Ian Walker's Olympic Diary - 7th September

Things still aren't going according to plan for the British Olympic Star team - Ian Walker writes about his experiences in Sydney
After getting blown away by gale force winds in the first day of racing organised by our coach, Bill Edgerton, to give us some much needed race practice, the second day proved no better. The forecast was for a light westerly, then possibly a north-easterly sea breeze later. In order to test it out we put up our light weather mainsail that we hope to use at the Games. Well, in the first race we were on the wrong side of a 40 degree windshift half-way up the first beat that left us and two other boats (including the current Gold Medallist, Torben Grael) right out of contention. With little chance of catching the leaders we fought it out for last place in that one. Then, after an hours delay due to no wind, the breeze freshened from the north-west. It built so much as the race started (over 20 knots), that we decided to drop our new mainsail, rather than race and wear it out. We then had to put up with the sight of everyone else practicing in a race organised by us - that we couldn’t now be part of. That was the last race of the day and we returned to base in a foul mood. Our only race practice had been ruined by the weather and we have made no progress towards proving our speed or honing our race skills. At times like this your self-belief and mental strength are tested to the full. We are about to sail in arguably the most important regatta of our lives, which we have worked so hard towards and yet we feel so under-prepared. It is not through lack of effort or even a structured approach, just the lack of suitable conditions to achieve what we had hoped to achieve. We