Once again time has flown by and here we are already 72 days into 2019. Since the last post I’ve been very busy chipping away as per normal, and have been lucky enough to visit some pretty cool places along the way. Have a read on to find out what I have been up to over the past month and a half.
Going back all the way to the end of January, I took this photo back home in Swanage just before leaving to get on my flight to Miami. I love exploring and seeing sunrises/sunsets so this did put me in quite a good mood heading to Heathrow.
I love flights and this was my first long haul for quite a few years so I was feeling good heading over across the pond.
Arriving in Miami this was our accommodation for the week. Quite a nice pad with a good bunch of friends meant it was good fun.
The regatta park at Coconut Grove.
Some nice views on the walk home.
With some cool buildings!
After a couple of days pre-event training we had a rest day the day beforehand and went to the local mall, which is quite a big experience in America! There there were some HUGE shops and even a Tesla store. Personally I love the Model 3 so it was pretty cool seeing one in person.
Okay so definitely slightly off-topic now….
Back to sailing and back at the boat park this photo perfectly captures the moment my UK Sport stickers wouldn’t stick to the hull properly… Doh.
So rest day was over and racing got underway the following day.
Unfortunately racing did not exactly go to plan and I had a mixed week in some tough conditions. Read more about it in my blog post here.
Soon enough I was back on the plane and flying back to the UK having thoroughly enjoyed my time in the US but with lots of thoughts on how to move forward.
Back in the UK
First thing that hit me was just how cold it really was back in Dorset. Yikes!
But getting straight back into ‘work’, I was off to Weymouth the next day to film the next Head to Wind challenge with British Sailing Team mate Jack Cookson. This time we were sailing oppies against each other. For people who don’t know, oppies are tiny little boats designed to be sailed from ages 5-15 with a maximum weight of 55kg. So with us both sitting around the 83kg mark it was sure to be fun.
We hit the water in 18-25 knots and quickly set about racing, capsizing or in my case, sinking.
Despite only sailing an Oppie once before (back in August when I already was 30kg overweight!) I had a great time and enjoyed razzing around Weymouth Harbour at roughly 2 knots.
After a few practice runs we got straight into racing. Check out the video above to see who wins!
Back Out To Portugal
Having had a good few days back in the UK recharging I was ready to head back out to Vilamoura for the final winter training camp.
It’s a lovely place and a world away from the UK in the winter so it really allows us to get about 4 times as much sailing volume in as we could back home, making the trip very much worth it while. Plus there are some great bargains on flights, with Ryanair doing promotions over the winter of only £9 each way.
After a few days training with our coach we got straight into a small regatta with some big names, including Robert Scheidt, who is making a return to the Laser for 2020. It was pretty cool sailing against him.
A few days of high winds and big waves meant there was always going to be some carnage, with this guy accidentally getting crashed into and subsequently sinking. Never seen some abandon ship so quickly!
Chilling with the squad on the final day, waiting for the wind and waves whilst simultaneously looking like a boy band from the 90s.
With the event wrapping up I finished a respectable 12th overall. A good mark but by no means my best.
That was it for my time in Portugal and what a fantastic few months it had been. By easily quadrupling the amount of time on the water compared to the UK I really feel like I had emerged out of winter a good 10 steps forward and ready to start the season.
Flying back to Bournemouth I flew past the Jurassic Coast and saw Weymouth & Portland from a new and cool angle.
Back in the UK & Off Again
Arriving back in the UK I had a single night at home before I went on a family holiday for a week. It’s funny but this time of year is the only time any of us are free so we all clubbed together and went off for a nice relaxing holiday in an alpine environment (definitely was not skiing!).
Back in the UK (for good)
After a great week chilling out I was reset, focused and ready to hit the ground running. Flying back to London I went straight to Alexandra Palace for the RYA Dinghy Show, possibly one of my favourite events of a year. There always seems to be an incredible buzz around the place and so many friendly people to talk to.
It was an awesome couple of days and I spent a lot of time on the Sailing Chandlery stand, helping people out and giving advice for suitable bits for them and their boat.
All questions here please. Hahaha.
Whilst at the show I received fantastic news that I have won the British Sailing Team P3 Marlow Ropes Award! Read more about this here.
After the fantastic dinghy show I headed back home and slowly returned back to normality and general training. A few days hard at the gym was enough to set me up well for the first spring Noble Marine Laser World & European qualifier, held at Weymouth last weekend (9th/10th March).
Despite no racing on Sunday (due to winds of up to 50mph!) I had a good Saturday and was happy to have consistent speed with some solid decision making to finish 6th overall. Bit painful to be just outside the main bunch as I left 5 points easily out on the race course which would of set me up much more nicely but that’s racing and I’m happy to be moving in the right direction.
On the Monday after the qualifier I saw conditions in the afternoon were a solid 15-20 knots WNW. With this in mind it got me thinking about doing another Weymouth - Swanage downwind run. Having done a few of these in 2018 the thought of doing another was pretty exciting.
It’s hard to explain the feeling but there is a massive sense of satisfaction/progress/adrenaline/fear when going for 4 hours downwind in some of the toughest conditions found on the south coast.
So with conditions still perfect on Monday morning Micky Beckett and I set off from Weymouth for the run back home.
And we made it! Took a bit longer than usual, mainly because the tide was against us the entire way. Not usually too much of a problem until we got to St Albans Head, where there was huge breaking white water waves everywhere and it really became quite sketchy.
We also had our by-now-normal meeting with the Ministry of Defence, who were as usual thrilled to see us and advised us to change course unless we wanted to be shot by a tank shell. Happily we obliged and sailed further out to sea (hence the banana half way through the picture above!). All in all a fantastic day and some real progress forward, particularly in decision making.
So what now? Well tomorrow I head to Stokes Bay in Southampton for the second instalment of the Noble Marine Laser World & European qualifiers. After that I have another in Plymouth the following weekend before heading out to Princess Sofia regatta in Mallorca, where the Olympic trials officially start! Exciting times.
As always follow my progress on here or my social media:
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Thanks for all your support in these exciting times!