Racing any Olympic class boat is a unique physical challenge
Racing any Olympic class boat is a unique physical challenge
Last week I spent sometime sailing the Finn in Lymington, it was hard work and the body suffered a bit, however it has enabled me to get enough training in to be able to confirm I'll be competing at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy 9-14 August 2010.
I've not raced a Finn since Beijing 2008 so it's will be almost 2 years to the day, but doing this year's Sail for Gold was on the cards as long as it fitted in with the rest of our TEAMORIGIN schedule. I think Sail for Gold is a really important regatta for me to attend to not only check in with where the rest of the Finn fleet are, and what developments have taken place since I've been away, but also to familiarise myself with the venue and conditions as I've actually not raced an Olympic Class boat at Weymouth and Portland for about five or six years.
I have to accept I'm not going to be 100 percent race ready, 100 percent Finn fit and a t my ideal racing weight, and I'm sure it will be frustrating for me at times not being able to do things I'd normally take for granted, but the benefits of competing far outweigh any frustrations I may experience as long as I'm realistic, and possibly more importantly, other people are realistic about what I can achieve on such limited preparation.
The prospect of racing the Finn again is really exciting to me and that counts for a lot. An Olympic cycle is a long, long road, which can get quite tedious, and many of the Finn guys will also have one eye on the Worlds, which take place in San Francisco just after Sail for Gold. I'll enjoy getting to grips with the boat in racing conditions again and the lack of preparation time means I'll have to concentrate on getting the basics, like starts and tactics, right as I'll be lacking boat speed in other areas and probably won't take as many chances as I would if I had the speed elsewhere.
My experience is going to be really important and I know I'm going to find it difficult at times but as you get older you generally get a bit more philosophical about things; I don't have to prove myself in the Finn class and there are too many positives to doing the event to worry about 'What if I don't win?' Any result inside the top 10 would be a good result.
Racing any Olympic class boat is a unique physical challenge, you use muscles which are so hard to replicate in a gym. You have to get your body used to racing again and all the aches and pains that go with it. Apart from the lymington training days, I had a week with the Skandia Team GBR Finn squad this winter, did a few days training in Valencia during the spring and I've got 3 days with the British Finn guys at WPNSA the week before Sail for Gold. All Finn sailing I do between now and the regatta will be about re-familiarising my body with that feeling and boat handling. I've left all the boat development work to my coach David 'Sid' Howlett and that's been going well although I haven't had the chance to use the boat in anger yet. We'll make the decision on whether we use the new boat at Sail for Gold in the next couple of weeks as there may be some things we want to keep under wraps.
TEAMORIGIN has kept me very busy over the past three months and we've had a mix of results in our TP52 Audi Med Cup events in Cascais and Marseilles and the latest Louis Vuitton Trophy Regatta in Sardinia.
However I took a day out from the Marseilles event to compete in this year's J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, where I raced on the Ker 46 Fair Dos II, renamed J.P. Morgan Asset Management Prince's Trust for the race, the crew was made up of young people from the Prince's Trust charity for which I'm an ambassador.
There wasn't much sleep had over those 24 hours as I had to get the last flight out of Marseille at 10.30pm on Friday, which was delayed, and then my taxi didn't arrive t o pick me up from the airport. Fortunately the sailing journalist James Boyd had an old Triumph sports car in the long stay car park and after a pitch black RIB ride we eventually made it to Cowes at about 3.30am for the 4.50am warning signal! It was certainly an interesting day but very worth it as seeing the young people enjoy themselves on the boat, and get a chance to do some of the sailing themselves, was just brilliant. I don't get a chance to do too much for the charity so it was great to be able to do this while also saying thank you to J.P Morgan Asset Management for all the support they continue to give me in my Olympic campaign.
There have been a few changes in the TEAMORIGIN camp over the past couple of months with Grant Simmer coming in as our new CEO while we've also received the proposed protocol document for the next America's Cup. Grant has so much America's Cup experience, this will be his eighth, and he held the roles of Design Co-ordinator, and lat er MD, of Alinghi winners of the Cup in 2003 and 2007. Team meetings with Grant feel a bit like you're at the University of the America's Cup! He's had an immediate impact in terms of our decision making processes and he makes sure as many people as possible are involved in decision making so that even if you don't agree with a decision you've had an input and can understand better why a decision has been made.
Grant's experience comes into its own when deciding on our responses to the AC34 Proposed Protocol Document. I'm pleased the process is moving along but after three years of investing so much time, effort, energy and finance into TEAMORIGIN we have to make sure we'll get a fair crack at the Cup. There would be no point doing the event if it was unwinnable and there are a few clauses in the document, which at the moment, need some further clarification to make sure we're all competing on a level playing field.
So far the lines of communication between th e Defenders, BMW Oracle, and the rest of the teams have been good and hopefully these will stay open so we can all have an input into the final format. The document also proposes some wide-ranging changes about how future events are run, the boats, race management etc , which is positive, but we have make sure it remains about the sailing and doesn't become unbalanced and end up only about the media, commercial opportunities and sponsorship.
We had more positive news a couple of weeks ago when Myself, Iain Percy, Christian Kamp, Magnus Augustson and Matt Cornwell had a great result for the team by winning the Stena Match Cup in Sweden which is part of the World Match Racing Tour. This was really positive progress as it was highly competitive, hopefully we can compete in at least two more WMRT events this year.
Finally TEAMORIGIN will be going head-to-head with BMW Oracle in the new 1851 Cup at Cowes Week, a really exciting one-off regatta which is a great oppo rtunity for our team to take on one of, if not the, top team in the World, on home waters but also raise the profile of the TEAMORIGIN brand on the Cowes Week stage.