From the 3rd to the 8th June I was in Helsinki, Finland competing in the Radial Women's European Championships. Finland was surprisingly hot, with temperatures reaching up to 28/29 degrees C while I was there. Maybe the reason it was so hot was due to the fact that the sun never goes down, well apparently it does at about midnight but only for a couple of hours and even then its not completely pitch black. It was a very laid back atmosphere in Helsinki, in the evenings, the parks would be full of people sitting on the grass, chilling out and eating ice-cream. Interestingly, the ice-cream stalls all had signs saying "Watch out for the seagulls". I didn't know that seagulls liked mint choc chip ice-cream, until I was mugged by a flock of them! Staying in a hotel we had to eat out for dinner which could have been really expensive had we not discovered the "Wrong Noodle Bar". This became the British girls favourite place to eat, the food was really tasty and it was one of the only places we had found that you could get dinner for less than 10 Euros.
It was a week of fairly light winds, I think the maximum gust we had was about 10 knots and the minimum was quite possibly zero (there was one reach where I was sitting on the leeward deck to make the boat heel over enough so that the sails would at least look like they were filling)! Although I generally prefer lighter winds, I find the racing a lot more stressful than in strong winds. Its so much harder to be consistent in a light wind event as it can be (as an old coach of mine would say) "like a game of snakes and ladders!" My priorities in light winds are to go for the most pressure, over lifted tack if necessary. Get a front row start in space and not necessarily at the bias end if the pressure is at the other. Always sail into a line of pressure before tacking rather then tacking before it and waiting for it to travel down because it usually doesn't! Light wind racing is all about keeping your head out of the boat and looking around for the next patch of pressure.
My week started off well, some of my starts were amazing (even if I do say so myself) and I felt fast and smart around the course. There was a race which didn't go quite to plan…I was on the wrong side of a 70 degree wind shift on the first beat and was practically last but on the second beat decided to bang the opposite corner to the majority of the fleet and pray. Luckily that worked and I managed to turn what could have been a disastrous race into a half decent one! At the end of the qualifying series I was lying 8th overall. The first day of gold fleet was extremely tough as the wind was even more patchy and unpredictable than the previous days. After two races in gold fleet I was 13th overall, 10 points outside the top 10. We had 2 more gold fleet races scheduled however the next days racing was cancelled due to a lack of wind. This meant that I had lost the chance to try and get back into the top 10 and would have to sail one more gold fleet race (minus the top 10, who would be medal racing) to finish the event. Unfortunately I was a bit too keen to do well in this race and was black flagged which meant that I dropped to 17th overall (14th European). Even though I was gutted to have dropped down the results I was still pleased with how I had sailed and feel so much more positive about everything than I did after Sail 4 Gold. Click here to see the full results
My next big event will be the UK Nationals at the end of August which are being held in Weymouth. I'm keen to do this event as it is yet another opportunity to race on the waters where the Olympics are to be held and also because I would love to be National Champion!