Friday, 12 December 2008

Back to the other blog

Hi folks, if you're after finding out what we're up to please look on our website and click on the Go Live link.
Thanks for your intrest.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Off the ropes

The Olympics sucks. I think I can safely say that now, having had a month to recover from the kick in the guts that is getting to within touching distance of your dream and then making a mess of the last step to grab hold of it. It has felt almost childish at times to take so long to get over what are in theory the games, but when you work so hard seeing it as a game becomes harder. However since being back from China we have been round several welcome home parties and had to stand in the back of many pictures. (at which, we are now very good at smiling with a distant look in our eyes!) Finally we seem to be at the other end and begin to look forward rather than back which is of course the only thing that we can do now.

In the middle of September we took part in the ‘Skandia Sail for Gold’ regatta in Weymouth (which apparently where the racing will be in 2012, this was only mentioned a few times though!), I think it would be fair to say that sailing was the last thing we wanted to do however when needs must and all. We said before that we wanted to make the event fun and enjoy our sailing. This has always been our strength really the 2 guys with the biggest smiles that seem to just be loving it. However this year the fun has gone a little a we lost a bit of control of doing things our way, one of the many things we shouldn’t have done in ‘hindsight!” (I hate that word with a passion!). Portland harbour produced a great week always hard down on the trapeze and the boat really ripping, which is what I so love about 49’er sailing. We sailed I would have said, the most naturally we have sailed since the worlds in Australia last winter and really did have a good time. (Always is more fun when you win they say) This was honestly due to the fact that we relaxed and didn’t think about the results.

I think the best thing to come from the whole experience is the knowledge that even in the most testing of situations ‘we’ stayed ‘we’! Our biggest strength is our team and the way we enjoy the journey. This year we thought it might be better to try other ways of getting there which may have been better. In truth our route however unconventional (even with the mountain passes!)(private joke) generally gets us where we want to be when we need to be there and we now have more faith in this than ever.
The facts of the here and now are we didn’t sail too well for a 5 day event in the August 2008 and we are going to let nothing get in our way of sailing the best we can in Weymouth (apparently the venue for the next Olympics?!) in 2012. It’s a lot of work for 5 days sailing but the journey to get there is truly one of the best experiences you can ever hope to have.

I would like to thank everybody who has been sending us their thanks and good wishes. Apologise for not being very good at receiving them but your support is very well received. I hope we will keep the website up to date as much as possible though we are having a bit of time away from the boat at the moment.

When we are back the 49er will look very different, bigger mast, main and jib. (did the designer see the medal race?) Wow going to be fun learning to sail that puppy. Oh yeah and Ben’s now the proud dad of a dog called ‘Baxter’ so all say ahhhhh!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

All over

As those of you who've been following our progress will have seen the event is over and finished in serious controversy.
The medal race was run in extreme conditions. Breeze up to 22kts and a large sea running along with a reduced fleet weight made for an exciting race. The medals swapped hands a number of times on every lap! Every boat on the course capsized at least once with most twice or more! For us with no pressure it was great fun and we very nearly won, pitch poling within 100 yrds of the finish (There's some great pics on the Internet). The Danish who were leading going into the race snapped a mast pre-race but managed to borrow a boat off the Croatians and get back to start 3 mins 56 behind the fleet! They sailed round without the spinnaker and finished 7th winning the Gold by a couple of points from Medal race winners the Spanish. As you can imagine the jury room was a busy place when we got in with numerous protests as to the suitability of the conditions and whether the Danes result should stand given the fact they used a different boat. The protests carried on late into the night and resumed in the morning. We came back down to find out the final result. And it finished as it stood with the Danes in Gold the Spanish 2nd and the Germans 3rd. I'm sure there will be a lot of talk as to whether the decision was right but I personally feel it was a good decision for the sport. The fact that the Danes did everything possible and the act of sportsmanship by the Croatians is something the class should be proud of.

For us the chance of a medal slipped away the day before. Its hard to put into words how it feels to have worked for so long and have it slip from our grasp. I'm finding it hard to know how to feel. Just so frustrated and down. I guess you put on a smiley face and say its just motivated us more for 2012. I've certainly learnt more about myself these last few days then in a long time.
Looking back its easy to see where we've made mistakes in the build up this last year and it seems the only way to have realised the problems is by having experienced this. People say its a great thing to have experienced an Olympic Games but to tell you the truth its been one of the worst weeks of my life and bar the adrenalin of the Medal race its felt horrible, mentally trying to stay on top all week. All I really want to do is go home but we're out here for another few days packing up before heading to Beijing for the Closing Ceremony.

We've been on the seawall cheering on the remaining classes in the medal races. The team has done phenomenally well. And a lot of credit has to go the the support staff that go through the same stress as us without the action. Its been great seeing most of the team realise their deserved goals.
Massive sympathy for Nick, I can only imagine what it feels like to have come so close, and of all the people who you'd hope it'd never happen to it would be Nick.

Thanks to everyone who has supported us this last year and special thanks to my parents, brother and girlfriend who travelled out here. I sorry we couldn't make it a more enjoyable experience.

Friday, 15 August 2008

After a rest day keeping out of the sun we started race 7 confident that we were on top of the issues of the other day. Unfortunately we misjudged the start line on account that we felt the pin end of the line was drifting. We protested on return to shore, requesting redress but it was denied due to lack of proof. So another terrible result to add to the score sheet. Pretty gutted!

Anyway we managed to follow it up with our best two results of the event a 3rd, then a 2nd. This leaves us 8th overall. A lot further back than we'd have hoped but on the positive side around the same position as we were in last year and we managed to turn it around then.

Yesterday, although scheduled 3 races we never left the shore due to the wind never blowing more than 2kts. Which leaves us today with another 3 and the probability we'll lose the rest day tomorrow to do the missing 3. At the moment we are waiting for the wind to settle enough to lay a course in as its offshore.
Just crossing fingers we can complete the series.

And we promise we haven't given up and we are still enjoying the Olympic experience!!!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Second day

After our great first day, the second days racing was the kind of day we'd been hoping wouldn't happen. The breeze was good and there was a large sea running from just about every direction. We had good starts but during the first race the mainsheet got caught around the camera tripod on the back of the boat and snapped one of the bridles. We were able to keep racing but its hard to know how much it cost us especially as it was a boat speed type of course. The race officer was turning the races over so fast that by the time we'd fixed the mainsheet the next race's sequence had begun. We got another good start but seemed to lack the pace to take advantage of some of the opportunites that came our way. On reaching the finish we lifted the centerboard to find in covered in tar! Not very helpful. By the third race we still had no definate answers to what was going wrong thanks to the mainsheet and the tar and so maybe lacked the confidence in our decision making that is usually so good. Anyway we had another poor result.
A pretty depressing day. Its dropped us to 9th overall but on the plus side there's still potentially 10 races left so plenty of time to catch up. Just got to cross fingers we have a better run of things and that the wind keeps blowing!

Monday, 11 August 2008

Opening Ceremony, problems and first days racing

For most of the sailing team with ourselves included, didn't have the time to fly to Beijing and back for the Opening Ceremony. It required leaving on the morning of the 8th and not returning till midday on the 9th. With our racing starting on 10th there just wasn't enough time.
Instead the team put on a dinner with a live BBC feed so we could watch. The whole team dressed up in team uniform and there was a great atmosphere with everyone cheering every time a Brit came into shot!

The 9th we'd planned to have as a rest day but with a few jobs left to do on the boat we went down early to sort them. Unfortunately whilst doing this we discovered a slight void in the bow where the gel coat had sunk and so needed repairing. Fortunately we have a boat builder out here to help but after filling and sanding it back he discovered more holes. In the end we spent the whole day down at the boat park. Not quite what we'd had in mind for a day off.
After spending so much time in the sun and with racing starting the next day we gave the local opening ceremony a miss and chilled out in the hotel watching it on TV.

First day of racing for us yesterday. Both pretty nervous. We had three races with the first two run in around 6 kts but the last a bit touch and go when the wind dropped to 2kts on the first beat. We managed to stay on top of the nerves and finished the day with a 3,4,5 scoreline. One we'd have been very happy with if you'd offered us that at the start of the day. This puts us leading the regatta!! A pretty nice position to be in but more importantly no bad races picked up.
I spoke to friends back in the UK and they said they'd been up at 6 to watch the racing live! Pretty cool knowing we've got all this support.
Today we move course to racing area B a bit further east and away from the marina for another 3 races. If we get all the races in we have a rest day tomorrow.

Thursday, 7 August 2008


At the Games the measurement procedure is a pretty long process, each boat taking around 2 hrs to check. Most of these checks are the standard things that always get checked at any large event but with the Olympics there are so many branding regulations even sail manufacturer logos have to be the right size! The other different thing is the stickers. According to our coach the last few Games there have been professionals to apply the stickers (National flags / Letters / Names / Event logo) to the sails and the hull. Unfortunately for us this year there aren't, so we've had to apply them ourselves. This was taking some teams up to 4hrs to sticker a main sail! We managed to do it in around 1hr but have just been informed that the stickers themselves might be too poor a quality and might fall off and that a new batch has been ordered! Pretty annoying if that's the case, at least we only wasted an hour not four.