I’ve had a busy year since becoming a NeilPryde Sailing Team Rider. Starting my last year in the Optimist Class was with mixed emotions; sad to leave the boat that I’ve learnt so much in but excited to move onto what was coming next.
I had a lot of success in my Optimist this year. I started the year strongly with a good performance at a very light wind event in Palamos. The IOCA Spring Championships in March in Lymington were a good test of how well I was sailing. After a tough weekend, with lots of tide and competition from the Irish I won the event.
GBR Team Selection Trials
After winning the Welsh Youth Championships in April I went into the GBR Team Selection Trials aiming to qualify for the Optimist World Championships. To do this you have to finish in the top 5; after four good races on the Friday I was winning; two frustrating days of no wind followed before Race One on the Monday. I very nearly blew it! A wind shift meant I went round the windward mark in about 70th place and with only five races there was no discard so I would be out of the Worlds Team. But I dug in deep and managed to make good gains across the rest of the course and finished in the top 30 which secured me 4th overall and a trip to the World Championships in Cyprus.
A good run up into the World Championships at the end of August included winning the IOCA Inland Championships in Grafham. Cyprus was my second World Championships in a row; I went to Thailand the previous year and only narrowly missed gold fleet. My goal for this year was gold fleet and a top 20 result, which I knew I was capable of. A couple of mistakes on the first day meant that I was forever chasing results and there was no way to catch up. I struggled in the shifty, short, sharp sloppy waters of the Med having very little experience of it and ended up finishing at the top of bronze fleet. Clearly I was disappointed not to have finished higher but the experience was brilliant and I learnt a lot.
Transitioning to 420
After arriving back from the World Championships on the Friday night I found a crew (Oscar) on the Thursday to sail with in a 420, which is the boat I’d decided I wanted to move into after my Optimist.
After a weekend training we took part in the Autumn Championships in Lymington. A weekend of rain and +20knts winds meant we well and truly felt like we’d been thrown into the deep end! But considering it was only our second time out in the boat we finished a respectable 18th out of a strong 26 boat fleet, learning a lot about working together in the boat and what we needed to work on (lots!).
We won the Welsh Zone Championships in Fishguard and then improved our position at the Inland Championships in Rutland finishing 12th out of 27 boat fleet, including a top 10 finish which was encouraging and showed us what we need to do to consistently get to the front of the fleet. At the End of Seasons in Rutland we tried some different tactics and it didn’t pay for us; too many mistakes cost us but we came away determined to work hard and improve.
We’ve got a lot of work to do to get to where we want to be in 2019 but we are determined to put the work in and get there.
I’m very proud to be a NeilPryde Sailing Young Gun and thank them for supporting me. I’m loving the new kit, it’s really comfortable and warm - especially my new 3D Curve Drysuit!