Europe 2015: Here We Go Again!!

IMG_7301Been a little while since we did any sort of updating, so thought it was well due!

As seen above, we are currently in Palma, back in our ‘Cookie Monster’ – Thanx to Nigel for the photo too!

So where to begin… after our Miami trip in January, we had a good month and a half at home, getting in IMG_6918lots of off the water training (or in Jo’s case – also some on the water paddle-board training), lots of meetings and planning, making sure we are on track and organised – this is a rather big year for us with over two hundred days overseas.  We even managed to fit in a little sailing – at the NZ 470 Nationals and Sail Auckland, where we had some rather fun battles with the NZ boys, Paul & Dan, it was a case of match racing from 3 min to go every single start – awesome fun!!

The NZ Nats came down to a who beats who in the final race, which we thought we had nailed down with a big lead halfway down the first run, but with the wind dieing out, the boys staged a mammoth come back and pipped us in the last 100m.. Painful… Hmm, its all on next year!!  Sail Auckland was a regatta of two halves, with Polly at a family wedding for the middle two days, so Jo took out Abby Goodwin (who sailed a 420 at the last ISAF Youth Worlds), which was a steep learning curve, but she sailed awesomely!  We didn’t quite manage to beat the boys in any races but we led around the track a few times and had them a little worried… it was good enough!

After Sail Auckland there was a bit of a change of plans with Jo leaving NZ nearly two weeks early to go to Israel to be with her dad’s side of the family, after her sister Shefa passed away quite unexpectedly.  Shefa had Cystic Fibrosis, and was in and out of hospital a lot of the time, but was always excessively full of life and enthusiasm!  So much so that the thought of her passing away so early (she was 14 years old) just never seemed a possibility.  As a little side note: Jo’s cousins Ari & Rachel, ran the Motutapu Off-Road Marathon last weekend to raise money on behalf of Shefa for Cystic Fibrosis NZ, a bit of an epic run off no training!

After all of this, Jo had a few days holiday in Palma before IMG_7300the rest of the team arrived last Tuesday, then we got the boat rigged and sails stickered (we did remember how – even though Nath and Pol were rather jetlagged…) and we have been out on the water for a few days trying to get ready for the Princess Sofia Regatta, which starts tomorrow. So not quite an ideal build-up we have to admit, but we are happy to be here, really looking forward to the racing, keen to get this European season started!!

 

 

 

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That’s One Way to Start the New Year…

Its been a busy start to 2015, by the end of January we have already been to Miami and back, competed in and subsequently won the first World Cup event of this year.. Not quite the cruisy NZ summer approach we have taken before, but its been great fun!

So, where to start.. Well, we left NZ on the 11th of Jan – off to Miami, which seemed further away than we remembered, it looks so close on the map, but still took 24 hours to get there.. We arrived at our hotel around midnight, Jo jumped online to check her email, and lo and behold, the first email she read was ‘we are sorry to inform you that the container with your boat on it has missed the ship to Miami and is currently stuck in Panama… Ship arrival estimate 23rd of Jan, possibly clearing customs 26th/27th/28th (the regatta started on the 26th).  Not exactly what we wanted to hear at that time…

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Cue days of thinking, planning, ideas – even toying with the idea of trying to fly our other boat over from Barcelona!  But that proved to be a rather prohibitively expensive exercise.. Then we got lucky.. One of the young British girls team’s crew had gotten an injury a week before, and they had a boat in Miami but were not allowed to sail it for another week, so we chartered it and competed in the North American Champs, where we had a bit of a shocker, never actually saw the final results, but we were deep!  But it was good to at least get out on the water and race, the plan at that stage was to head back to NZ after that, at least having done some racing before we went home…

It was a very up and down week, one day shipping schedules sounded promising, the next, not so much… We were pretty much all ready to come home, Nathan had just sent off a message confirming his flights back to NZ, when we got an email saying that rather amazingly our container ship had somehow arrived three days early into Miami (rather unheard of!), so we quickly made Nathan abort his flight plans, and went back into a hopeful frame of mind!

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After some great work by shipping agents in NZ and Miami, our boat cleared customs and was delivered to us on the 23rd (the Friday before the regatta started on Monday..), so after a full day of boat work we were able to get out in our new Cookie Monster boat for two days of training before we started racing! It was all coming together!!

The actual World Cup regatta was great fun, we were just happy to actually be there racing, which a week before had seemed impossible!  We also got lucky weather wise, Miami being an often windless place, came through with a rather cold front (not what we were expecting – we all froze!) and we had great wind all week.  We started out well, with two 2nd placings on the first day, it was exciting racing, with a massive rain & wind squall coming through in the first race, flattening most of our fleet.. We were downwind with the kite up when it hit, but there was no way we were going to capsize our nice new boat, so we held it together!

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From there on, we were very consistent, with a 1,7, on day two, followed by a 1,1, on day three, and a 1,3, to finish off day four – we didn’t race day five as there was no wind.. So by the time it came to the medal race we were 19 points clear, and all we had to do was finish the race to win the regatta…  We sailed the medal race a little like we sailed the rest of the races, good start, a mistake or two early on, and then a solid comeback!  We rounded the first mark in 9th out of 10, then quickly made up ground to finish the medal race in 2nd, and take the overall regatta title by 27 points… A nice way to start our 2015 year!

After all the logistical dramas in getting to the start line, we had to laugh when we checked the status of our flight out of Miami to LA via Chicago the morning of leaving, to find it was cancelled… Some quick internet booking got us on another flight to LA via Orlando, which we discovered when we got to the gate was rather over-booked… Luckily I think they felt sorry for us, and we managed to get on the plane… Only to have a ‘mechanical delay’ and sit on the tarmac for 45min, which got us a little worried about not making the next connection!  But it all worked out, we made it to LA in plenty of time to get our connection home to NZ – and our luggage even made it too!

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It was just awesome to get out there and race all the girls again, nice to test out our new boat (rather happy with it!), and now excited to be back home and get some NZ IMG_6854summer under our belts!  Hmm although the day we arrived home was the first rain there had been in Auckland for five weeks… Oh well, can’t win them all…

Next up is the NZ 470 Nationals, where we expect a good battle with Paul & Dan (biggest event of the year some would say…), then on to Sail Auckland at the end of the month..

Then we are getting ready to head away again, with a regatta in Palma before our next World Cup event in France in April! Can’t wait!!

And in other news, we can also confirm that we are once again ranked World No.1.. bring on 2015!

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World Champs Wrap Up… 2010 all over again?

Hopefully you have seen a little of how our World Champs in Santander went, we tried to keep the old Facebook updates coming through.. As annoying a website as it is, its rather handy for quick and easy updates and photo shares! [If you havn’t seen the updates, they are on the top right on the website!]

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If you didn’t see anything, then spoiler alert….

We finished 2nd… Funnily enough, under rather similar circumstances to the 470 Worlds we competed in back in 2010 in Holland four years ago.  What can we say, I guess if we were 2nd at those worlds and followed it up with London, we can safely say we are still on track for Rio, and at the end of the day, its better to hit a few speed bumps now, learn a few lessons, make a few mistakes, and be even more ready for Rio in two years time.

Anyway… Onto the actual regatta!   We had a great build-up, we came over extra early to Santander to compete in two practice regattas, where we had beautiful onshore wind and some great racing (sadly it seemed we used up all of the nice consistent wind pre-regatta), we were in good form, winning both practice events and really happy with our preparations leading in.

By the time the actual World’s came around, the wind had softened rather a lot, and it was a slow start to the regatta with two light wind races on the first day, where we felt a little out of practice in that kind of breeze, although we were consistent, we did made a few mistakes that cost us a few points – This would continue to be an annoying underline for the rest of the event!

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The second day consisted of us floating around on the water in no wind for 5.5 hours, where I-Spy was played to the point where we were laughing hysterically at random words like ‘potato’.  I think the brain goes a little nuts after being confined to a small sailboat for that long…  This was backed up by a few long postponements onshore where we both were good little students, and got our Uni textbooks out at any opportunity, getting some strange looks at times… Apparently we should have been intently preparing for the days racing instead of reading about international business…

Over the next few days the regatta really got going, the wind picked back up, but from an off-shore direction we had never seen before (The typical ‘its not usually like this’ weather call).  We continued our consistent but not quite excelling form, over the entire regatta our worst race placing was a 7th, which was the very first race of the regatta, easily the most consistent boat in the fleet.  The only problem was that our 3rds, 4ths and 5ths, could have been 1sts, 2nds or 3rds.. Just a few little mistakes and a few speed issues at times held us back.  We did however manage our first event in a long time where we omitted our ‘stuff-up’ race, we were consistent all the way through…

Which brought us to the medal race… We went into the medal race one point behind the Austrians, with the British thirteen points behind us, so it was all set for an exciting race! 1597274_886140678077935_576876432929503446_oWe were happy with how we executed the start, with the Austrians being unable to hold their lane off the line, and splitting right.  This was the moment we made our mistake, we let them go… Left it to chance (you may remember a certain medal race two years ago where a similar thing happened, but that time we were on the right side of the shift).  At the first top mark, the Austrians were leading, we were in 9th, in danger of being overtaken by the Brits and dropping to 3rd overall.  From there we knew our only option was ensuring the silver medal, so we clawed back to 6th in the race and took back second overall.

It was a long and tough event, winds of every direction and strength, a strong fleet and a lot of determined teams endeavouring to qualify their nations for the Olympic Games in 2016.  The top 10 countries earned their spots, so we are happy to say that we have ticked off that box, with the next step qualifying ourselves to take up that place.

10321569_883227788369224_508862510686962875_oWe can’t say we are satisfied in any way with the final result, but we know where we made our mistakes, we know the areas we need to work on, we have a great team behind us, and we are looking forward to lifting our performance again in the coming years.

But for now, its time for a bit of a break… We have been all go since early January, and with our next World Champs in March next year, the season is going to ramp up even earlier than usual, so we will take some time while we can!

Thank you ever so much to everyone who has helped us out this year, for all the messages of support and the unwavering belief you guys appear to have in us, its when it doesn’t quite go to plan that it means even more!  An extra special mention to our coach Nathan Handley, who somehow supports and encourages us 100% of the time whether we get it right or not (although yes, you are always welcome to get annoyed at us.. we do too) the original super-coach…

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World Champs Time…

So, we are currently in Santander, Spain, taking part in the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships… The regatta website is rather good, there should be lots of updates and hopefully even some trackers for the latter part of the regatta.  We will try and keep a few updates trickling in via our Facebook feed on the right, but may be a little hit and miss as we have a job to do, so social media comes second!!

For all the official news head to this website:

http://www.santander2014.com/

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Thanx to everyone for all the support, time now for us to go hard and see what happens!

 

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