It has once again been another successful campaign to Europe. We left for Frankfurt just after Easter to meet up with our new training partners and coach. Our first stop was Hamburg where we picked up our new boat for the season, it was the boat that was sailed by the German 470 girls in London, and with the crews father being the boat builder we knew it would be a very special boat.
From there we drove down to Hyeres at the bottom of France to compete in our only European ISAF World Cup event for the year. We treated this as a warm up event with our main focus being on the Open Europeans and Worlds. Hyeres is normally a windy regatta however this year it turned out to be light a variable. We finished 43rd overall missing out on our main goal of making it into gold fleet.
After Hyeres we had a week off before our second regatta back in Lake Garda. We were fortunate enough to be able to spend a week at the Australian Institute of Sport European base in Varese Italy, which was a short detour from Hyeres to Lake Garda. We were accompanied there by a few other members of the Squad and the AST strength and conditioning coach Andrew Verden, here we focused on developing our recovery programs and preparing ourselves for the next regatta. It was a great place to spend a week as it felt like a home away from home, where you can very easily forget that you are in Europe.
Lake Garda was run under a new racing format called the Eurosaf cup. Their aim for this new system was to create a shorter event run over 5 days with the first 4 days been 3 races per day with last day being a medal race which only allows the top 6 boats to compete. Another twist to the format was that whoever won the medal race won the overall event, this resulted in a lot of contraversy in the sailing community. We had a very good first two days sitting in 3rd but with bad weather on day 3 we were unable to race making the race committee push out 4 races on the final day of final series. Unfortunately we did not sail our best on the last day dropping us to 8th overall. On a positive note 8th place was higher than we had expected and under the old scoring system this would have put us in the medal race with a chance of winning the regatta.
We then travelled up north to Medemblik in Holland, an event we have done for the past 3 years. This time it was for the second round of the Eurosaf Cup. We spent a few days training with Mat and Will along with Victor before the regatta started. We again had another solid regatta finishing in 8th place with a much tougher fleet than Garda. Conditions here were very unstable, meaning a lot of gear changing and having to apply more focus on having to change your style of sailing. However Medemblick did not disappoint bringing along some of its finest weather, with days getting to 4 degrees and the chance of snow and a wind chill of -2. Matt Belcher who had been on the 470 circuit for 12 years said it was the coldest event he has ever sailed.
From there we did a big 1800 km drive down to Formia which in on the west coast of Italy 200km south of Rome. Before training started we had a few days off to recover and recharge, giving us the opportunity to visit Rome for the day, to our amazement that night we saw the new Pope walking only metres from us during a large street parade with millions of people following down the street. After our adventures we got into preparation for our first peak regatta of the year, the Open Europeans. Again we had a week of preparation with the team to get us ready for racing in the 70 boat fleet. Formia is a great place to sail, sunny every day and 30 plus degrees and to top it off a perfect sea breeze that came in like clockwork everyday without fail. Off the water we had some drama’s with our car, as we got a flat tyre. The hire car didn’t have a spare and therefore it needed to be taken to a special service centre, just to do a tyre change it then spent the next 10 day waiting for the right tyre to fit the car. The first two days of the regatta was for qualifying to work out gold and silver fleets, the regatta started well having a strong first day with 3 solid races, another two solid races the next day resulted in us finishing qualifying in 25th which put us in the gold fleet. With the format used at this event we carried our qualifying position of 25 over as our new total points, which resulted in the racing being nice and close again allowing all the sailors to been in the running for the medal race. We were able to continue with our consistent results and make our way up the ladder to finish the regatta in 23rd place.
Once again we would like to thank RPAYC and the members for their continued support as we strive towards Rio 2016
Matthew and Robert Crawford
Photos by Victor Kovalenko