After the Europeans I had a some time off from sailing. I had to take a break then because with the Worlds being in December, if I didn't, then my next opportunity for time off would be Christmas! So the week before the Laser Nationals I got back into my boat to try and remember how to tack and gybe. I did two days of tuning and racing with the Standard Rig Squad, which was great because I had to push myself so hard to be able to keep up with them, that I was back up to racing speed in no time!
The Radial Nationals had a massive entry of 145 boats which meant that we had to sail in split fleets for a qualifying series in order to determine the Gold and Silver fleets. The event was held in Weymouth (the 2012 Olympic venue) and this attracted a lot of very good foreign competitors over. It made the event even more useful for me to have done because the standard of the fleet was so high, that in order to do well I had to raise my game and make improvements.
Day one of racing was in shifty gusty conditions, there were plenty of Black Flag disqualifications handed out as the tide was pushing the fleet over the start line. I did well to avoid joining in with the game of "starting suicide" and scored 6, 1 in the days racing to lie 5th overall and 1st Brit.
Day two was almost identical to the pin ball machine type shifts of day one. It was crucial to keep your head out of the boat and looking around for the next bit of pressure or shift. I improved on my first days scores with a 3, 1 to leave me 2nd overall and 2nd Brit to Ross Harvey who had also had a great days racing with a 2, 1 to lie one point ahead of me!
Day three turned out to be a lay day as the wind didn't bother to turn up.
On day four the wind came back, this time from a different direction to the first two days which kept things challenging! Three races were sailed that day and I managed to get some incredible pin end starts (much to my surprise because I am usually rubbish at them!). I could possibly have had better scores than I did but unfortunately I just didn't really understand the shifts that day which was frustrating! I had 5, 5 in the first two races which I was fairly happy with. Race 3 deserves a special mention because it was a pretty "special" race. All was going to plan as I was going for my third pin end start of the day, however with about 20 seconds to go the wind shifted so far to the left that it was no longer possible to cross the line on starboard. I had to tack onto port immediately otherwise I was going to miss the start line altogether, then I had to do the five D's of dodgeball…dodge, dive, duck, dip and dodge some more. Once I had weaved my way clear of the fleet I was pretty much on my own on the right hand side of the course, so just decided to keep going and pray for a big right hand shift back! There was no big shift back and I rounded the top mark pretty deep but by the end of the race had managed to pull up to 11th, which wasn't too bad all things considering. So at the end of the qualifying series I was 5th overall and 2nd Brit again by a point but this time to Jon Emmett.
The schedule for the Gold fleet racing was for three races on day five and one race on day six. Day five was the windiest day of the week and with the fleet standard suddenly doubling this made for some tough racing. I scored 18, 4,15 which in Gold fleet isn't too bad especially as strong winds are definitely not my forte. I hung in there on the leader board in 6th, again only 1 point off being the top Brit!! The final race of the event on day six was sailed in Portland harbour. I had a chance to take the National title but in the end didn't. Jon and Ross both beat me in the race which meant that I finished 8th overall and 3rd Brit. I was disappointed to have been so close all week, only to lose out in the last race. I still felt like I had achieved loads and had given myself a little confidence boost in the process! To see the full results of the Nationals click here
Since the Nationals I have done a few very windy days training with the Brit Radial squad. The girls were all very fast in the breeze and this was a real eye opener for me and it highlighted the areas I need to improve on. Perth, the Worlds venue is almost certainly going to be a windy event because of the "Fremantle Doctor", a strong seabreeze which comes in every afternoon. To be competitive at the Worlds I know I need to be as heavy, strong and fit as I possibly can. So in an attempt to gain weight and strength I have been eating loads, downing protein shakes and weight training 3 times a week. A month in and I am definitely stronger and about a kilo heavier, which isn't a lot but at least I'm heading in the right direction! I still have 11 weeks until the Worlds so hopefully I will be a couple more kilos up by then. Between now and the Worlds I am also going to start ramping up my cardio training again to help maximise my performance.
As well as doing all the gym work, I will of course be going sailing lots too! I am flying to Italy at the end of September to do a week of training at Lake Garda with a great group of girls of all different Nationalities. Before that though there is the first of the Autumn Laser Qualifiers at Highcliffe on 24/25 September.