Malta and Sweden training on another windy windy windy day in Hyeres.
Check out these two clips; one of us wiping out downwind and another of the Swedes wiping out. Which one looks more spectacular?
Epic nose-dive in Kiel, Germany. The weather’s worse than Malta in Winter.
Last weekend, we took part in the Palma test event, a training event acting as a precursor to the Trofeo Princess Sofia Regatta which starts on the 4th April. Here’s a clip of us taking part in the race when we finished 8th – not too bad in a fleet of thirty, especially as we had the 2008 Gold medallist behind us!
So, it’s goodbye winter training routine, hello European circuit. After an intensive winter season at home working on our fitness and boat handling techniques, we: Seb&Ben from Malta49er; have come to Palma de Majorca to get back onto the international Olympic circuit.
Even though it’s not quite hot enough to be summer, we are in summer mode. This means we’ll be following the ISAF tour around Europe, stopping off at each of its venues for weeks of training with international teams before leading up to each of the ISAF World Cup Events. Our first event will be the 42nd Trofeo Princess Sofia in Palma de Majorca, starting on the 4th of April which can be followed online: http://www.trofeoprincesasofia.org/noticias.php or www.malta49er.com
Ben and I have been in Palma since the 10th of March, for training with our coach and other international teams. Winter is all about working on boat handling and fitness, whilst summer is about fine tuning our techniques to squeeze every ounce of speed out of the boat. Last year there wasn’t much speed to squeeze out; we were like a dry lemon, you could squeeze and squeeze but nothing would come out. It had to be expected as back then, we were the newcomers and in sailing, every single bit of improvement takes a lot of time and hard work; that’s why the guys at the top have been in the 49er game for over 10 years. We have just completed our first.
Last year was excruciatingly painful. Neither Ben nor I are used to being slow, we are not used to being at the back of the fleet. It was hard to keep on pushing through and many times we just wanted to give up, to go crying back to mummy hoping that she would solve all our problems as she once did. But we kept on pushing, due to some intangible faith and so far it has paid off. This year we are much faster and can compete with the top guys, giving past medallists a run for their money. Last weekend, we took part in a test event, in which there were about 30 boats, most of which were crewed by the top guys. We placed in the top ten in 3 out of the 6 races. We were pretty happy with that! We didn’t get a score for the event because we missed the first day of racing, but we were totally happy with our performance.
However, we still have a long way to go and have a lot of things to work on but everything is moving forward at an astonishing pace and qualifying Malta for the 2012 Olympics looks like a very achievable task. In fact, if we do manage to qualify for the London Olympics, it will be the first time ever that a Maltese sailing team has qualified for the Games as opposed to having been invited on a ‘wild card’.Things are looking up
Over the past week we have settled into our flat, two minutes walk from the beach where all the boats are kept. We’re getting on with all the normal daily chores such as cooking, cleaning, shopping etc while making time for two sessions on the water. The morning session, is spent on undertaking lots of speed tests with the other teams that we have made friends with, notably the Americans, Canadians, Germans, Irish, Spanish and Italians. The afternoon session is spent doing practice race after practice race. It’s great to be here on the scene training hard, competing harder and getting results which are finally reflecting the work that we have been putting in. But it’s not one big holiday which some people believe it to be. Ben and I are together 24/7 on the water or back at the flat. The training/racing lifestyle gets a bit much sometime and we give ourselves one day off a week to go and let off some steam. Even then it’s hard not to fantasize about spending more time at home, eating and drinking with family and friends. Sometimes I yearn to have a fixed base, because this life on the move can get pretty tiresome and repetitive. Yet we know why we are here, we love the sport and we love the competition. This is what we were made for and this is what we are doing!