At the start of season, I felt that I wasn’t in as good form as I had been at the end of the previous season due to insufficient sailing during the winter. However I managed to apply what I had learnt from the National Squads into my racing, which got me to a 7th place overall. The winds were very light and shifty and light, almost too hard to race in.
The Nationals was the next regatta, located in Cardiff, Wales. It was once again shifty with light winds. However my practise and training in the meanwhile helped me improve my form and lead to a run of consistently good races, which enabled me to climb two places on the national rankings.
NeilPryde Sailing sponsorship
The next important development that happened to me in my career was being spotted training and then sponsored by Neil Pryde Sailing. I was really pleased as Neil Pryde Sailing’s gear is my favourite. The slogan at Neil Pryde Sailing is “winning is everything” and the kit they provided me really helped me perform at my best.
And so followed a series of wins at regional events. These wins were the South Coast regatta at Mudeford, and the Eastern traveller regattas at Bough Beech and Rutland.
One of the best things about the Neil Pryde kit is the flexibility to adjust depending on the weather conditions. At Mudeford, the weather was cold and the winds strong, so I wore a neoprene top as well as long johns, with under-armour and spray top as well. At Bough beach the weather was hot and winds light, so I wore only the neoprene long johns, with a rash vest on one day, and even sun-tanned a bit on the second day.
UK Inland Nationals
I felt that I was now in top form when I went to the UK Inland Nationals at the end of June. The competition was really strong, with 9 of the top 10 national ranked sailors present, including the reigning UK national champion. However the winds were stronger (about 15 – 20 knots) and with lots of sun, and these are the conditions that I thrive in the most. I chose to wear my Neil Pryde Elite long johns with the slightly thinner raceline top. I took the lead from the start and with 2 bullets, 3 silvers and with the possibility of two discards, I was soon to be crowned the UK Inland National Champion! Neil Pryde are right – winning is everything.
A month later was the World Championships in Weymouth, which was the first ever Tera Worlds to be fleeted in history. The winds were nice and fresh and I chose to wear my Neil Pryde Elite Long Johns with the raceline top once again. I won the first race and with another bullet in the third, I was overnight leader on the first day. This was the best sailing experience I have ever had in my career. The second day was not as good, dropping me to 4th place in the qualifying series, but only two points behind the leader. The third day was the first day of the individual fleeting between Gold and Silver; I was in Gold. The winds were even stronger so I replaced the raceline top with the Elite top. I had a really good day, and shot back up to 2nd in the Gold fleet, once again, 1 point behind the leader.
The fourth day was somewhat lighter winds, but extremely shifty, and four races were abandoned and restarted. I was in the front in three of them! Unfortunately, I misread the shift in one of the races that did count, and a mistake in another caused me to drop back to 4th overall. The fifth and final day brought really strong winds, and the race officer decided to cancel racing for the day, so I wasn’t able to fight back for my podium position. It was probably the most fun regatta I have ever been in, and fourth in the world is a really pleasing result.
Sweden - 2018 Summer's final regatta
The final major regatta was in Sweden, where it was extremely strong winds. By now my hands were getting quite rough, so I decided to try the Neil Pryde raceline gloves, which turned out to be a great decision. On the 1st day, I came 1st in every race except one, ahead of the two time incumbent Swedish national champion. With a bullet and two silvers on the second day it was enough for me to win the Eurocup and Swedish Nationals 2018.
2018 - it's been a great summer!
An overall summary of my 2018 season is how I kept on improving my racing, until eventually, I begin to win major regattas. It is also important to wear the right gear and be comfortable on the water. The key highlights were:
- Being sponsored by Neil Pryde
- Winner – UK Inland National Champion
- Winner – Swedish National Championships and EuroCup
- 4th at the World Championships
I enjoyed this season more than any other so far and can’t wait to the next.