In the words of House stark, one of the Great Houses of Westeros - Winter is coming.
Apologies in advance, I have been catching up on 'Game of thrones' recently, and so you may find that this exciting installment of my blog contains a few more late medieval terms than normal. 

Right, when I last left you I had just returned from holland and was about to settle into another training block in good old weymouth. Things have been surprisingly good actually. October/November can be a particularly tricky time of year, with wild, unstable weather systems, but lucky for us on the whole we have got off rather lightly.

Regardless of what happens in the 2020 cycle, these boats are still flipping cool.

A video posted by tomphippsracing (@tomphippsracing) on

It has given us a great opportunity to get some solid hours in. A particular highlight over the last few weeks was the chance to race as part of the national ranking series. While only a small 6 boat fleet it was a perfect way to break up the uncoached training, which despite being on a nacra can become a little monotonous. The series was over 2 weekends, and in true weymouth style the weather gods turned the wind up and the temperature down for those specific days. The first weekend was a little warmer and Nikki and I were on form, we sailed really well and walked away with 6 wins from 7 races. During the next weekend the temperature dropped considerably again, and i think it fair to say the cold had a big effect on us. You have to laugh when it gets to the stage where you arent sure if you are holding the sheet or not because your hands dont seem to exist any more. Probably a good way to describe our 2nd race weekend would be..... clumsy! That said we muddled through and won a good chunk of races. 

We learned a lot over the 2 race weekends, but one of the biggest lessons which we seem to learn every year is that its time to head south to find warmer and more stable weather. At this level it is important to be able to get the hours in on the water, and unfortunately in the UK the inability to feel ones hands after 40 mins of the water is a little limiting. Based on that Nik and I are off to spain at the start of December for a training camp before christmas. The entire British sailing team will then join us in the new year where we have a number of full squad camps in the calendar. I think it's fair to say both Nikki and I are very much looking forward to some warmer climbs. 

In other big news, and this is the part of the blog where I become all serious, ISAF, or World Sailing had an important conference recently. It looks like the the class is being pushed in the foiling direction for this cycle. While I agree with foiling in principle, the way it has been rushed and forced upon us as sailors seems particularly unjust. I think all nacra sailors feel a little hard done by, and we have all been left in a fairly tricky position financially and logistically. 

The boat is changing significantly, to a stage where old boats are 'unraceable' and worthless. Both Nacra (Manufacture) and ISAF (World federation) are hiding behind the line it is an update to the original design, but it is clear now that older boats will not be eligible to compete on the circuit once the new design is introduced. While I agree the boat did need some modifications to improve strength and longevity of its competitiveness, the changes that have been forced upon us are huge and have taken place in a matter of months. As you may realise this has left us with boats that are now completely obsolete and essentially worth very little as they are ‘unraceable’.

There is no doubt that the new design is a better boat, but because of the hugeness and the time scale of the changes, it is a very big problem for those looking to continue smoothly from the 2016 cycle to the 2020 one. 

Despite many arguments from a lot of sailors including myself, this is happening and there is no way back. Nikki and I have worked so hard over the last year to put ourselves in such a strong position leading into this new Olympic cycle, and now we have a bit of a new hurdle. In order to continue competing in the class, we need to purchase a new boat that will conform to the new class rules. As you might understand these boats are particularly sort after currently, and Nacra are taking deposits to secure build slots for sailors wishing to acquire their boats soon. Being ahead of the game is so important in any sport, but even more so at an olympic level and particularly with the introduction of a new class.

Nikki and I have raised a deposit, and we are currently working on securing enough support to finance the whole boat, so that we can get hold of it as soon as possible. It is a fairly large amount of money, so I would stress this is a work in progress. Without crying out for support, I wanted to put all you guys in the picture, so you understand what we are up against before we even hit the race track. If any of you have any ideas on how you might be able to help, please get in touch, this is a critical time in the next 4 years.

The next step is for me to start selling myself on the streets of mylor, and no one want that!

Cheers guys