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By Rooster Sailing
It was only a year and a half ago that I wrote a blog about moving into the Radial after the 4.7 Europeans. Sailing a Radial was a whole different game to the 4.7, not just fitness wise, but the competition was at a new level. Before I stopped sailing 4.7s I tried out the Radial at a few Qualifiers and did reasonably well considering my age – 14 at the time. The first few months in Radials went well for me making significant improvements in my results from the previous year’s Qualifiers. I didn’t have the support of being in a squad but I did manage to qualify for the European Laser Radial Youth Championships in Belgium last year. I did however wonder if I was at the right event – many of the competitors from other countries were huge – we do seem to sail the Radial ‘light’ in this country.
It was then onto the Qualifiers for the youth squad. Unfortunately for me, weighing in at just less than 80kgs at the time, it was a real struggle in the light winds. Consequently I didn’t make it into the youth squad. Soon after this I read Steve’s blog about “The myth of talent and the power of practice” and immediately “Bounce” by Matthew Syed went straight on my Christmas list. It is a fascinating book and I would recommend it to every sailor. The book is basically about the amount of hours you put into your chosen sport, not the talent you have and the magic number of hours is 10,000. This got me thinking. Now I’m not saying that the squad system is a waste of time, indeed I’ve had some really good training from it, but since not getting in the squad, I feel I have been more motivated to improve.
I have been doing some training at Lymington, which has given me valuable time on the water over the winter. The costs have been very reasonable and it’s local which does help when balancing the demands of exams. You may think that this wouldn’t provide me with much fleet racing so I decided to go down to Stokes Bay on Sundays, where there is plenty of competition in the Laser. Not just that, when you’re rigging and after sailing it’s a more relaxed atmosphere, you don’t have to worry about having to contend with the dreaded Sunday evening trek home. Anyway, back to the point of the blog. I have now decided to roll up my Radial sail and move into Standards. At 80kgs, there was no other way I could have gone. Due to my age (16 next week), I may do what I did last year, sail throughout the winter at Lymington and Stokes Bay, improving my skills and then maybe next year, think about the youth squad. I’ve got time on my side and at least I know I am going to be big enough to be a Standard sailor. At the end of the day it’s about time on the water - that is the only thing that will help reach the 10,000 hours goal.