470 British Sailing Team Update – Matt Mee
The summer has proved to be a turbulent time for my Olympic Sailing Campaign. Within Skandia Team GBR there have been countless crew changes in the Men’s and Women’s Squads. A number of old partnerships have broken down, new ones have formed, people have left the programme and new faces have joined. I know within the men’s Development Squad, this has been due to the fierce competition to meet criteria set by the RYA to select which teams are to continue or join the programme.
The Criteria was based on results achieved at the 470 World Championships in Rungsted, Denmark and the final leg of the ISAF World Cup, Sail For Gold in Weymouth UK (the venue for the 2012 Olympic Games).
A mid fleet (49th) at the World Championships was a disappointing result for myself and Chris Grube. I teamed up with Chris 3 weeks before the event amidst a lot of swapping and changing within the squad, so not ideal preparation for one of, if not the toughest sailing events in the world! The only saving grace was we finished 2nd out of the 5 UK boats in contention for the 3-squad places.
So next was Sail for Gold, only 2 weeks after the Worlds. This was the first real opportunity for Weymouth to showcase itself to the world of Olympic Sailing as the venue for 2012. The 470 fleet attended in force, most coming over straight from the Worlds to prepare. I in the meantime had yet again become crewless! Chris had jumped at the chance to sail with a promising youngster looking to step into the 470, current 420 youth worlds gold medallist, Phil Sparks.
With such a small time frame between the two events I was beginning to despair! This was until, an old rival, current and double GP world champion helmsman Ian Dobson agreed to crew for me at Sail for Gold. The first half of the week is a qualification series to split the 60 boats into Gold and Silver. Regardless of only having 1 day to prepare, we hit it off immediately and qualified for the Gold fleet in 12th position, with all results inside the top 10. Once in the Gold fleet our lack of preparation and ‘time in the boat’ together did show and our results dipped. We ended up 21st out of a world class fleet and again 2nd out of the 5 Brits in contention for development squad places.
So, in conclusion it has been a tricky summer of criteria, events and crew changes! The biggest positive is the new partnership formed with Ian and our re-qualification as one of 3 Development Squad boats as part of Skandia Team GBR. We plan to push into a full winter training programme with the World cup series set to begin in the New Year.
Thanks to Allen Brothers for their support over this year as we look forward to the 2nd year in this Olympic cycle!