Sponsored 470 sailor - Matt Mee - Spring report
Spring ’10 has been a very busy period for us and the rest of the British Sailing Team. Following our success in back in December out in Palamos, we knew we would have to knuckle down in the early stages of this year to keep the momentum going. As it turned out, January wasn’t meant for sailing! The snow meant that it was almost impossible and fairly pointless to trudge down to Weymouth for the first Team GBR training camp of the year… so we didn’t! We trained throughout February and early March and drove the boats out to Palma mid March for some warmer weather training and in preparation for the first ISAF world cup event, The Princess Sofia Trophy, Palma.
Palma is renowned to be a difficult start to the season, especially for the British Teams. It is the first European event of the year and so everybody’s racing skills are a little rusty. It is also difficult for the Brits to adapt to the typical light wind Mediterranean conditions after training for 3 months during the typically windy British Winter. This aside at the mid stage of the event we were in 38th position from 100 competitors. This meant that we qualified for the Gold division and so for the last 2 days the top 50 boats race together and 51st to 100th will race as ‘silver’ division. This is the first step in any international sailing competition and is a huge relief when we reach the Gold division as it means you can not finish worse than 50th overall! And it means you can still win the competition. For you golfers out there equivalent to making the cut.
Now, Gold Fleet 470 sailing is widely regarded as the most competitive sailing on the face of the planet. The slightest mistake in the early part of the race can easily put any one of the 50 boats in last place. Equally, a slight speed advantage, a good start or getting the race tactics right can catapult you forward. A good example of the level of competition is the current world and european champions, the Croatian pairing of Sime Fantela & Igor Marenic scored a 2nd, 40th and 41st. Showing that anyone of the teams can be at the front if they get things right, and at the back if not.
The final two days saw us progress to finish 36th overall. Which on the whole was a positive result, given that the aim for the year is to break into the top 20 in the world.
There was no rest for the British sailors as the following weekend saw us all back in Weymouth for the first of the RYA National Ranking Events. We sailed a solid weekend and finished second in the Men’s 470 class from the eight teams that competed.
Next week see’s us begin preparation for their next ISAF World Cup Event in Hyeres, Southern France, which is held 24th – 30th April. Keep up to date with our progress at: www.twitter.com/470sailors