ILCA 7 Under 21 Worlds 2021 - To Poland and back again...
Published 00:00 on 31 Aug 2021
Well - I made there and back again - It's a dangerous business going out your door!
It's been a massive learning event and not just the sailing! I was held at customs on arrival in Poland; as a 17 year old I'm not double jabbed and I had to negotiate with security for my release as all my paperwork is in English from the RYA and Polish sailing authorities! - Hurdle one overcome!
I rejoined the guys I was traveling with and made it to Gdynia a few days prior to the event to pick up our charter boats - We needed to take with us our sail, battens, all strings and ropes, blocks, toe strap and tiller / tiller extension so we spent the 1st day in the sun refitting the boats- it was blowing 30knts - so no sailing. When we did get out the day after the practice was great - training alongside other nationalities in big waves and breeze - My boat speed seemed on point though slowed during the day - return to shore revealed why as I emptied half the Baltic Sea back into the marina! - Daniel the Charter Man was on hand with screwdrivers, epoxy and silicone to help me re-fit the grab rails - Hurdle two behind me and we were all set for the racing that started Sunday 22nd.
The racing was a mixed bag for me - I've learnt a huge amount from only my second international event, 1st international in an ILCA 7 and 1st with no shore support! The BIG sailing learn is patience! BIG fleets of 70 boats (140 boats in total split into two flights) is very different to the UK circuit! Race 1 was all good - Top 20 with last beat and down hill to go when I missed a single shift depositing me to the rear of the fleet - It was tough racing! The patience aspect I needed to learn faster was not to panic or go straight to high risk tactics - My Black Flag on day two is testament to the point that I didn't learn that quickly! By the end of qualification it was clear I was in Silver Fleet with work to do to claw up to the top end - Last of the Team GBR was hurting too! A little more patience on the track with faith in my boatspeed and keep pushing the starts saw better results in return, pulling me in to 11th in Silver with top 5 not out of the question on the last day - Unfortunately biblical rainfall resulting in zero visibility and 3 hours bobbing around in the Baltic getting soaked meant no racing on the last day leaving me 11th in Silver and 1st GBR in Silver - Team GBR in Gold fleet put in a huge performance too, also held out of the top ten with the last day cancelled as they were all on a charge!
My flight home was straight after we came off the water - BIG push to strip the boats, get to the the flat - pack - head to the airport - que for check in - produce documents.... This is when the realisation of no passport hit home! Next hurdle - A few frantic phone calls home, to the Embassy and to my flatmate who was back in Gdynia as Nick was flying out the next day meant we had Just One more race on our hands! Could Nick find my passport and get an Uber from Gdynia to Gdansk before the flight left! - Game On!
With minutes to spare he made it! Now it got really complicated as Security asked for my COVID test results to let me on the plane. I didn't have them! More phone calls to the test provider, home and a lot of watch checking as the last minutes ticked by before the result landed on my phone and I made the flight as they were about to lock the doors! Last Hurdle completed!
So Lessons? - Be patient on the race track - Hold your lane, have faith in boat speed and sail the fleet - don't instantly go High Risk strategy at the 1st set back AND Be more organised!!!!
I had a fantastic couple of weeks meeting new people and making new friends from the international circuit, really pleased with my sailing and how much I've learnt and a new appreciation of how much support I've had previously on the shore (Thanks you Mum and Dad!) None of this would have been possible with their support and the support from the Blake Trust - Thank You!