So finally after months of training and preparation the thing I had been working towards had begun. The first of five major European events, the Princess Sofia regatta is the largest Laser regatta I have ever entered with 178 athletes racing in the standard rig. Rather than drag you through the entire regatta blow by blow I’ll just give you a quick re-cap on each day 🙂
Day 1: The wind gods weren’t kind to us on the first day of racing here in Palma. We launched at 10 am and I didn’t get back onto dry land until 6.30 pm that night. It was officially the longest day I have ever spent o the water. We only managed 1 race in the gusty and shifty land breeze that we had and it was a stressful one. With two minutes to go my vang pulley broke in half and I had to make do by tying the vang together with rope and pray it wouldn’t break. Luckily it didn’t and I managed to sail a very safe race to place 11th. Not the best start but it could have been a lot worse.
Day 2: With only 4 races making up the qualifying series and three of them scheduled today it was pressure on. With 178 sailors competing only the top 60 make the gold fleet cut off and no one wants to be the guy in 61st. I had a shaky start in the first race that put me behind but I had some great speed to come back through the fleet to finish 22nd. Our next two races were sailed in a nice 10-12 knots compared to the glass out of the first race. My speed made my day giving me two top tens and saw me sitting in 18th after the qualifying series. The day took its toll though as we didn’t return to shore until 7.30 pm at night. Another long day had the fleet exhausted.
Day 3: The first day of gold fleet always sorts the men from the boys and today was no different. It was freezing cold and grey with a completely different offshore breeze meeting us. I struggled with my starts and first beats so I was always playing catchup but luckily I didn’t have any major disasters either to give myself a 30th and a 24th. Many lessons were gained from the day and I promised to do better tomorrow.
Day 4: The wind was back to the normal direction blowing a steady 10 knots which made the sailing carnage. Everyone can sail well in medium winds so the fleet was nose to tail the whole race. I finally had a good start but wasted it sailing up the middle of the course and eventually got swallowed up by the sides. My worse race yet a 56th 🙁
Things wern’t looking much better for the second race with a terrible start but somehow I managed to pop through and find a lane. I had good speed and made some good decisions and placed 8th in the race. A good bounce back from the poor race before.
Day 5: The final day of a regatta is always stressful. Some people want to move up, others are trying to protect themselves but one thing is certain. Unless you are in the top ten the the results you get today will determine the place you finish this regatta in and no one wants to choke on the last day of a major regatta.
The wind was light and steady but I kept a cool head and had some very good starts to place safely over the line in the last two races. A 23rd and a 19th kept me in good stead and saw me finish the regatta 17th overall and 3rd Australian. I finished 28 places better than last year so a marked improvement and I’m pretty satisfied to have such a good start to the season. However, I made way too many mistakes this week and I know I didn’t sail anywhere near my potential so I’m excited to get to Hyeres and really see what I’m made of when I come up against the best 40 sailors in the world.
Now I turm my attention back to training and getting even better as always. Next week is Cycle camp where we ride through the famous mountains of Mallorca racing each other all the way. Hopefully my hard work on the bike pays of this year 😉