Ben Ainslie: Busy couple of months in Australia
Ben Ainslie: Busy couple of months in Australia
By the time I leave Australia in January it will have effectively been my home for two months. Being down here allows me to spend a lot of time out on the water in the big breezes and really work on getting my sailing fitness back up to where it needs to be for the 2011 season and the 2012 selection process. By the sounds of the weather at home, Oz definitely seems like the best place to be at the moment!
Perth International Regatta
Whilst out in Australia I have competed in two Finn events. First up was the Perth International Regatta last month, which acted as the Test Event for the 2011 ISAF Worlds. There is always a bit of fear when you step back into a class after a spell out that things have moved on while you have been away or that you are so far off the pace that to catch up with the rest of the guys is an impossibility. But I felt good about how I was sailing, my results were strong and I was pleased to be mixi ng it at the top end of the fleet. We basically lost the last three days of the regatta due to the lack of breeze, which is unusual for the that part of the world, but to finish fifth, considering how far off my best I still feel, was really encouraging. The week before the regatta we got some really good training in, in great breezes. I had my coach David Howlett with me and it was fantastic to be getting my body used to sailing in those sorts of conditions again.
It is amazing how the body adapts and the only way you can get anywhere near getting back to full sailing fitness is by getting out there and putting yourself through all things your body is not familiar with doing anymore. It takes time to get your body used to hiking out and all the other strains your body feels sailing a Finn again but I was definitely feeling less aches and pains at the end of racing than I was when we started training.
ISAF Match Racing World Champions
Although I have made some good gains both in terms of weight and strength in the past few months I had to temper it a bit so that I could still be the right weight for match racing with TEAMORIGIN. After the Perth Regatta I left Australia for a week to take part in the final World Match Racing Tour event of the season with TEAMORIGIN, the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia. We went into the event third overall but knowing we had a good chance of winning the title. We needed to be at the top of our game and for a few things to fall into place to do it but fortunately all those things came together and we won the event and the World Championship. We knew our chance of winning the title had improved considerably when defending champion Adam Miniprio did not qualify for the top eight in Malaysia. When we beat Mathieu Richard in the quarter-finals it really came down to us from there on in. Beating Bjorn Hansen in the semis made it job done in terms of the World title and it was fantastic to celebrate this by also winning the event, beating Torvar Mirsky in a very, very tight final. Being match racing World champions just feels like a really fitting way for this TEAMORIGIN campaign to end and I'm delighted for all the boys who sailed on the Tour during the season.
I then headed back to Australia as next up was Sail Melbourne which is an ISAF World Cup Event; it was an interesting event as we had different conditions each day. It was again really good to have more time in the Finn and the event ended up being a very close contest between myself, Giles Scott and Ed Wright. One day that stood out was the second day of racing when I finished first in all three races, it was a light wind day and everything just seemed to click into place and these results set me up for the rest of the week and it was a real positive to sail well and come away with the event victory. However, I'm still some way off the fitness levels I need and my boat speed is not where it should be so I know there is still a lot of hard work ahead. But, I'm now back on my full weight gain diet and will be doing a lot of weight training so that I can be back to full sailing fitness by next April; realistically that's how long I think it's going to take.
I'm now in Sydney spending time with some friends. I won't be in Britain for Christmas but I think spending as much time in Australia as I can when I have got the opportunity is the most sensible thing looking ahead to next year. I still plan to do the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta at the end of January and then really start looking more at where we are with the boat. David has kept this side of things nicely ticking over while I have been involved with TEAMORGIN activity but when we are out in Palma next spring we will be able to get a real handle on what work we need to do to get the boat in perfect shape.
Whilst I'm out in Aus it would be great to celebrate a bit more English succe ss in the Ashes! You always take a bit of stick being a 'Pommy' in Oz, especially when there is cricket on, but it all good natured and it would be a fantastic achievement if the England boys could reclaim the Ashes down here. I'm hoping I might even be able to catch one of the Tests while I'm in Sydney. That would be a great way to start what I am hoping will be a really good 2011.
Enjoy a happy and safe Christmas and New Year.