“This is how it ends,” I thought to myself as the boom pushed down hard on my buoyancy aid, pinning me to the centreboard casing as the boat, slowly, ever so slowly, capsized. The relationship with a new boat is always a difficult one. The 49er certainly taught me a few lessons, the hard way, which I will long remember, and this was perhaps the Solo’s way of teaching me that you need to let the kicker off before you tack!
And now for something completely different! After 3 regattas in a row (Princess Sofia, Hyeres, and the Europeans) it was time for a well-earned holiday, and what better than have my first ever attempt to foil, and where better than Murcia!
The beauty of Provela is there are several boats all designed to foil such as the F101, Whisper, Whazp, Moth, rather than retrofitting hulls which for example may well weigh 3 times as much as a Moth if not more. The F101 is a trimaran with code zero, meaning it can foil in the lightest of winds and when it comes off the foils it is super stable. Think of foiling with stabilisers. The Whazp and Moth are the other end of the scale, a tiny boat (think body of Waszp or Moth with wings) and just 1 sail. Finally, with the Whisper you can tick all the boxes: twin trapeze, jib, main and asymmetric spinnaker. With Simon Cooper, we got it to foil both up and downwind, admittedly on quite hot angles due to the wind.
Hyeres has always been one of Tuula’s favourite regattas, and Hyeres 2019, just like 2017, came down to the final race with Tuula guaranteed Silver but needing 4 boats between her and Mari Erdi to guarantee Gold. A good start and good positioning gave Tuula the points difference she need. You can see her celebrating her win here.
After racing in Miami, it was back to Europe for our next training block, this time in Spain. Having done 2 camps in Vilamoura, we moved to Cadiz for this one, and started training as soon as Tuula had finished her latest exam. The advantage was it also meant that we were able to do a regatta, Andalusia Olympic week, where Tuula finished 3rd behind her training partners for the week, Sarah Douglas and Emma Plasschaert.
Jon will once again be doing book signings at the 2019 Dinghy show.
Well I am writing this blog, like so many others, on a plane heading back home from a regatta. This time the regatta was the Miami World Cup, and shortly after landing I will be meeting Tim Hulse who looks after the GBR Youth training for the UKLA (check out his interview on the UKLA Facebook page).
Jet lag! Well I was truly suffering at the beginning of January, not because of the holiday season festivities which were quite some time ago but due to the severe jet lag caused by travelling from China to Miami (with stop offs in Helsinki, London and New York on route, so as to keep the cost down). I was so exhausted, not just with the physical tiredness, but mentally, and nothing to do with old age as several of my peers have recently admitted to putting a credit card in the fridge or finding themselves half way up the stairs and too tired to remember if they were on their way up or down! In an effort to kill the jet lag I finally went for a run after 3 days but even then, I managed to get lost in Miami, the place with the most local street names ever. Coming back after having been away for over twice as long as expected I found a very worried Tuula who had been googling how to contact people regards a missing person!
Summary of the year so far...
A summary of 2018
Well the year is gradually drawing to a close and I write this as I pack to head out for Vilamoura, Portugal, for our 2nd Camp there. With the temperature in the UK dropping sharply we are able to access much warmer training here, on the same time zone, with just a 2 hour flight. Tuula enjoyed a long break from sailing after Japan and now is on the way back up while Lucia is working hard in Argentina, where the weather is much better than Europe this time of year!
It was wonderful to see 4 of our training group make it to the top 10 in Japan and therefore qualify for the medal race, with Josefin Olsson with SWE coming top with silver overall (Hannah Snellgrove GBR 4th, Tuula Tenkanen FIN 5th, and Alison Young GBR 8th)… with less than 2 years to go to the Olympic Games themselves and most MNAs (Member National Authorities, for example the RYA) are starting their Olympic trials in the next 6 – 12 months it is going to be a very busy time. Although it is interesting to note that Marit Bouwmeester NED not only won the event but her MNA selection as well (qualifying for her 3rd games at Tokyo 2020).
As I write this the World Cup finale in Marseille seems a long time ago. Indeed next week I shall be jumping on a plane to Japan to start preparation for the 1st World Cup of the 2018/2019 season and it may be the last full World Cup series we do in this cycle because in the Olympic year the World Championship (in Victoria during February) and venue specific training in Enoshima take priority.
It seems as if I have been spending all my time in France recently, with Hyeres (World Cup), La Rochelle (Radial Europeans) and now Marseille (the World Cup final.) It makes me feel it would have been very helpful to have learned French better when I studied in school. Although I guess it is not just French, as in recent years I have been encouraged to learn Spanish, Finish, Chinese and even Hebrew!
It was with some sadness I travelled to Hyères in 2018 for the last Hyères World Cup. Hyères has been part of my life for well over twenty years and having probably spent an average of 3 weeks there every year during this time, I have effectively lived there for over a year of my life. A lot longer than I spent at some addresses in my younger life! From 2019 onwards, the European leg of the World Cup will take place in Genova.
I am writing my first blog of 2018 from Sunny Miami preparing for the 1st World Cup of 2018 where we have so far enjoyed hiking conditions every day, I am working with Tuula Tenkanen from Finland and Lucia Falasca from Argentina and we have enjoyed some super productive training days working with Alison Young and George Povall from the UK, along with their coach Penny Clark.
In 2017 Jon became Technical Director for Malaysia.
Well straight after I returned from Tokyo it was time to race again myself, this time at the Radial Inlands. A solid first day saw it all to play for but lack of focus and starting at the wrong end and overlaying the windward mark twice (once on starboard and once on port) on the second day pushed me down to third overall. It just felt as if I was out of phase all day! Having said that Ben Whaley was a deserved winner.
As expected, the level of competition at Enoshima Olympic week (although this seems a misnomer as it was only a 3-day event) was higher than at the Gamagori World Cup, with many teams keen to get as much practice as possible at the Olympic venue.
Straight after the Radial Europeans it was back to the UK although this was not quite so smooth as with 3 bags and 2 hands I managed to get 1 piece of luggage stuck the other side of the automatic exit doors at Gatwick to me and my bike bag plus hand luggage.
Immediately after the Masters Worlds in Split I flew to the Radial Europeans in Barcelona, where I was coaching Tuula Tenkanen from Finland rather than racing myself. Gatwick Airport was extremely busy as it was the day sadly Monarch Airlines went bust. I bumped into Shirley Robertson who I worked with for the 2000 Olympics with no less than 8 large luggage's (full of filming equipment as she now works in media for CNN). Luckily for me I was travelling light, bag number 2. was already in Tuula's van where it lives along with my road bike all year long and meets me at continental European events. The last time I coach Tuula was in Helsinki the previous month where we did a few days training with Line Flem Host from Norway before Tuula won the Nationals and we packed the RIB and boats for Barcelona. The ferry from Helsinki to Bilbao took a week, then it was one day's drive to Barcelona, so Tuula had a little break from sailing and I just had time to race the Masers Worlds.
Every year there is a key regatta (every 4 years it is the Olympics) and for me this year my key regatta was the Masters Worlds in Croatia. I arrived on September 19th, just in time to see the finish of the Senior Laser Standard Worlds Championships. It actually took our plane two attempts to land as with landing gear down and just a few metres off the tarmac, our Easyjet flight was temporary diverted to Italy due to bad weather. Fortunately, the bad weather delay meant there was no racing, so I didn’t miss anything
A while ago I said I would talk about grass roots sailing, well here we go. I started my sailing career in Toppers sailing with Crawley Mariners Yacht Club at Hedgecourt Lake before changing to the larger water of Weir Wood Sailing Club where I later progressed to sailing the Laser (there were no 4.7s or Radials when I started sailing).
I have just returned from the South East Asian games in Langkawi, Malaysia, where I was working as Technical Director for the host Malaysian Sailing who were delighted to come away as top sailing country with medals in every event with a total of 6 Gold, 4 Silver and 4 Bronze.