We arrived in Europe to receive our new Nacra 17 and head down to south France to compete in our first ISAF World Cup in Hyere.
After a few sessions of sailing to become familiar with the boat most of our pre-regatta preparation was spent on boat work. The boat itself was fantastic to sail and the curved centreboard made for a challenge in learning how to both control and benefit from them.
Being as prepared as we could be the regatta began in cold temperatures and a choppy race course. We had a world class fleet present and we knew we had put ourselves in the deep end.
The regatta started well we were lucky to have light winds in the first half of the regatta and was good to get a taste of what Olympic racing is all about.
As the week progress the breeze filled in and we struggled to both manage the boat and the fleet at the same time and slipped down the results. The biggest loses of the week were during what we call "foil outs" when the boat has to much lift and the boat jumps out of the water. Needless to say a 17 foot catamaran jumping in the air doesn't make for a pleasant landing and led to 2 capsizes.
After a week of racing we ended with a smile and were happy to finish in 14th which was the top half f the fleet.
We were disappointed not to make the medal race however we exceeded our expectations and headed off to the Australian Institute of Sport European base for some physical training and recovery.
Our second regatta was in lake Garda and after some well earned rest we felt fit and ready to take on another regatta and learning opportunity.
The fleet was a little smaller and not as good quality as Hyeres however we knew we were in for a tough fleet. We created the goal of making the medal race which is the top 6 which we thought was achievable.
Unlike lake Garda the wind was very unstable at the beginning of the regatta with light and extremely shifty conditions which made for some interesting tactical racing. We felt we picked the shifts well and we made big improvements on our start line techniques which we were thrilled with.
After the six races we found ourselves in 5th just inside the top 6 but still in a vulnerable position. However the next two days of racing bought wind and we found our form with two solid days of sailing and had three bullets on the last day of normal fleet racing.
We were super excited as we had qualified for the medal race and achieved our goal but also we were in 3rd heading into the medal race.
With ISAF implemented and trailing a new medal race format it allowed for more point changes.
The weather was fantastic and we had a perfect 12 knot lake breeze. The start was exciting with only 6 boats on the start line there was a lot of luffing duels.
We led up the first beat after a fantastic start off the pin end of the line. We were overtaken on the downwind however fought hard to regain the lead and eventually win the race.
We were thrilled to win the race, however, we couldn't get enough points between ourselves and the leaders of the regatta. We finished second which we were really happy with and also made us hungrier to get a regatta win.
After a good previous regatta we were ready to tackle a more competitive fleet in Medemblik however one major obstacle was going to challenge us.....the weather!
The conditions were miserable with rain, wind and 3 to 6 degrees every day forecast for the whole regatta.
Confidence was high as we started the regatta and had a good day with winds between 12-15 knots and finished the day in 3rd place overall.
Our goal again was to make the top 6 medal race and we knew we had to sail consistently to make sure we stayed ahead of the world class fleet.
The next few days saw consistent results however a lot of opportunities wasted when we rounded the top marks in mainly the top 3. Over the next days of racing we analyised our racing and found that our starts and boat speed were excellent however our tactics and strategy weren't up to scratch.
Although having an appalling last day with an OCS and our worst race of the series we still managed to qualify for the medal race in 5th position. We were very happy to go into the medal race 5th particularly with such a tough fleet.
Medal race day was a very choppy 18knot day and we knew we would have our hands full with he top six boats all fighting for a medal . Unfortunately we finished the medal race in 6th position and finished the regatta in 6th. It was a good regatta of both good racing and learning particularly in shifty conditions.
Our next regatta was in Weymouth, England where the Australians had great results less than a year ago. We plan on arriving there early to do some two boat training with our Australian team mates to perfect out skills.