420 Team Taylor- Alton - Kiel and Flanders report

With exams over and us heading out to Portugal for the Europeans on the 17th July, we decided to get some practice in at Kiel Week, Germany and Nieuwpoort Week (Flanders), Belgium. With Kiel week being at the end of June we arrived wanting to focus on getting back into the boat after having been out for nearly 2 months. With 11 races scheduled we were hoping to get a range of conditions although we ended up mostly with light and a very shifty offshore wind.

On the first day we posted 2 decent results and were relatively happy that we hadnít forgotten what to do though we could tell we hadnít been in the boat for a while. The second day provided a building breeze and as it picked up for the second race to nearer our type of wind we posted a third but followed with a BFD as we went for the starboard end to head out right in the last race.

The next day we were back to light shifty winds, that even the coach Rob Wilson said he was glad not to be sailing in. We got off to a decent start but with us now being in the Gold fleet small mistakes were heavily punished and with us struggling in the top third of the beats our results were not up to our normal standard.

The final day was light winds again and in the one race we got a 20th which wasnít bad considering that everyone was all over the place in the results.

Although our finishing position in the event wasnít where we would normally hope we left happy that we were on the right track for peaking at the Europeans and knew what we wanted to work on in Flanders.

After 4 nights back at home and having done some work on the boat we left for Flanders looking forwards to 5 days racing in a very tidal and knowingly difficult place to sail.

The first day of racing seemed to follow on from Kiel with light and shifty winds and we got off to a slow start but the second race of the day we got a 7th which we were pleased with in very light winds. The second day started badly with a discarded result but we followed with a mid teens and a top ten to help us be placed just outside the top ten overall yet knowing we still had a good chance as it was already showing that it would be a high scoring regatta. The third day of the event was another 2 races and yet again we had a bad first race but followed it with a 5th. Although consistency wasnít showing to be our strong point for this event luckily it was no one elseís either so we stayed in the same position overnight.

For the fourth day of racing we raced in extremely light winds for the first race and we rounded the windward mark about tenth and chose to go low on the reach for the tide. It looked very good until the wind went 30 degrees left meaning we couldnít make the mark and half the fleet rolled over the top of us. The rest of the race was plagued with 30-40 degree shifts meaning positions were changing all the time but with some crafty maneuvering at the leeward mark we manage to get a result in the low 20ís. In the final two races we got a mid teens and a 21st which we werenít happy with as we knew we should be much higher up.

With me and Pete having had a chat at the end of day 4 we were up early and were several hundred meters down the river before the next boat hit the water on the slipway, we were back into our normal routine that we had failed to do in both kiel and for the majority of Flanders. We got out to the race area before anyone else, including the committee boat, and were greeted with a building breeze allowing for some very wet and fast sailing. The first race started and with a big bunch at the starboard end we started in the middle also wanting to cover the possibility of convergence from the shore on the left and with a great start, courtesy of a great line call by Pete, we sailed away from the majority of the fleet off the start. Near the top of the first beat we were looking to be leading but had to cover the majority of the fleet on the right allowing a few boats in, that went left and got the convergence. This left us about 5th and unfortunately we lost a couple down the first run and ended up finishing 7th, but the breeze was still building. For the final race of the event we had a bad start due to another boat ignoring the fact that they were windward boat but headed out right towards a huge black cloud. As we got there the wind increased and shifted right meaning we rounded the windward 6th. With the wind building, the wind shifted right, the run was a very fast broad reach with several boats capsizing behind us. We rounded the leeward mark 6th but then the wind increased even more and started raining incredibly hard meaning the waves were blown almost completely flat and you couldnít see anything with the rain. We managed to overtake the Australian girls and held it to the finish to finish 5th on the water. We later discovered that 2 of the boats in front had been BFD meaning we got a third.

We finished the event happy that we had ironed out the problems with the main one being we need to stick to our normal routine.

A big thanks to our sponsors Allen and our coaches Johnny and Neil.

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