Aled and Ben - Feeling Festive

29er Class Inland Championships

UK Class Association and training

We’ve had a busy time as Christmas approaches…

We’ve been training a lot and it has gone really well for us. The UK class association has been really good with a great programme for all levels of sailors which we recommend highly. We’ve also been fortunate enough to train with Max Todd and Dave Evans who to us are legends in the 29er and 49er classes. We couldn’t ask for better input than they’ve given us. We’ve had to learn some things from scratch and change a few things and it has been really good to put it into practice.

29er UK Inland Championships

The 29er UK Inland Championships in November came after some really positive training so we hoped to perform well. It wasn’t easy with 40+ boats and it took a lot of work not to get drawn into our race results too much, but we stuck with our plan and focussed on the process and it started to click. We finished the final race with a 7th which gave us tons of confidence as our handling was much tighter, even under pressure, so we had lots to be pleased about. Our downwind work is beginning to come together now both tactically and from a boat-handling point of view and we wished for another day of racing!

29er Class Inland Championships

29er Harken Grand Prix 3

The 29er Harken Grand Prix 3 at Rutland in early December would show us whether the progress was solid… Another 40 boat fleet assembled and we had everything from 8 knots to 20+ knots. A solid result in race 1 was followed by a 4th and 6th in the next two leaving us 5th overall after three races! That was a great feeling as we’d simply focussed on executing the things we’d learnt and boom, Two top-10s on the bounce! We pulled back from deep to finish 25th in race 4, then on Sunday with a bit more breeze, we just tried to keep it simple and error free. It’s harder than it sounds but two more top-10s followed including a 4th in the final race of the series, giving us 13th overall for the event.

That marks a lot of progress for us. We’ve done 3 Grand Prix events plus the Inlands now, and while we know there’s still tons to learn, the hard work pays. We feel there’s still a jump to make if we are to consistently hit the top-10 all the time but we’re getting closer and have a clear route to get us there. Finishing top-10 in 50% of the races in GP3 seemed almost out of reach five months ago when we first started. Now it feels like anything is possible - and that’s our motivation.

29er Class Inland Championships

Time for thanks

Of course, we can't do all this without all the support we receive.

Our coaches are awesome and we’re really grateful for them investing time in us. (We’re doing our best to repay all the support and trust you show us.)

And we have the best kit to sail in thanks to NeilPryde sailing. We’ve said it before but the neoprene is just faultless, and the kit has never let us down. The Elite Hook buoyancy aid is lower profile than anything else we’ve seen too - all of which means mobility, comfort and high performance. It all gets hard use week in week out, and still performs like new. We can’t recommend it enough.

Aled Llewellyn-Jones and Ben Willet - NeilPryde Sailing Team Riders

We also feel we have the best boat preparation: Thanks to McLube Marine we’re able to prepare our boats the same way Olympic sailors prepare theirs and that gives us huge confidence. Whether it’s McLube OneDrop, Hullkote Speed Polish or Sailkote, we’re working with the best boat preparation there is.

BCC-IT also offer us huge help with their support meaning we’re racing with a new jib and spinnaker!

And finally a nod to our parents of course. (You know we’re grateful!)

So that’s our latest news. It’s hard to believe how much has changed in 2018 for us both. We’re training right through to Christmas in the 29er now and will be back in touch in 2019 when we’ll keep working hard to continue the progress. Our fellow sailors don’t make it any easier of course and we’re fortunate to be competing with some amazing friends and talented sailors.

We wish all of you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

See you all in 2019.

Aled & Ben


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