I am writing this in a bit of a daze, so unfortunately for you guys this blog might be even more mistake ridden than usual. If it does in fact become completely illegible as I ramble on, feel free to give up and return to watching funny videos on youtube or what ever it was you were doing previously.
I best start with why I am in a daze, or at least a more dazed daze than usual. Well it is a combination of things really. Turns out the concoction of - a weeks phantom sailing, an alarming amount of pizza, a mildly stressful airport transfer, a 4 hr delayed flight landing at 0230 in the morning, an enjoyable but strange midnight uber ride from Gatwick airport around to Heathrow, followed by an unsociably short nights sleep, waking up and fighting my through Heathrow airport to board an oxygen deprived plane to Rio- will do that to you.
Ok so rewinding to before the dazed compression sock wearing Tom began. Last week on Tuesday, I met up with the rest of the DMS sailing team gang and flew out to the what can only be described as Sailing Heaven – Lake Garda Italy. For those of you who enjoy water sports and have never been to the Italian Lake, pack you bags and go now, it is the most truly beautiful and overwhelming place for sailing on the planet… only to Falmouth of course. Honestly though, its mostly predictable winds and perfect climate make it a stunning place to be blown around on what ever water craft you own. That combined with its flat water make it the perfect place for foiling, So it makes sense for the annual foiling week to based there.
Since the light wind regatta of Geneva this was first time Jon and I were back on the water. On a fairly nostalgic note, the last time I had been to Garda was also with Jon, only we were about 11years old and racing the beast of a 12 foot Hobie Dragoon. A fair few years on but not a lot wiser we were back to Compete in the Flying Phantom series. We had a bit of disappointment in Geneva with breakages, so this time round we had the bit between our teeth and were keen to show our true form. After a day of rigging and a quick training sail we were into racing. Nothing could have prepared us for the first day of ripping around a race course with a fleet of other boats in a good breeze, it was wild!!! I think the whole fleet would agree there was a lot of learning on the hoof! That said Jon and I became more and more comfortable over the day and the results came quite naturally. 3 races 3 wins, very happy sailors!
Day 2 and the fleet were also finding their feet now, that made mistakes a lot costlier but we continued to show good consistent form, and sealed another good day in the office. Ourselves and Walsh were really flying and it was so much fun battling with the guys around the course. Downwind was fast a furious, Jon and I clocked what I believe was the fasted speed of the week at 29.3kts, most probably just before and almighty wipe-out. It was some of the best sailing I have ever had, learning huge amounts and having the most adrenaline filled rush while doing it. I was concentrating so hard think I forgot to breathe for an entire run at one point. Everyone retuned the the beach that day buzzing.
One of the brilliant parts to the week was the fact we were sharing it with the GC32 series, it was awesome to watch 11 GCs fully foiling off the line together. Only trouble is, it has also wetted my appetite to get involved, sounds like I need to start playing the lottery, unless anyone has a space GC they are keen to lend me. I will look after it, I promise! On the third day of racing, the organisers had planned a 25mile long distance race. Due to a strong gradient wind, the classic Garda breeze didn’t fully establish. So after a brilliant start we sailed upwind into….. THE DULDRUMS. There was actually enough wind to race, and Walsh/Rick did a great job at picking their way up the course. We chased them down as much as we could but as they re-entered the pressure at the bottom of the lake they we gone. Very sadly for them, when back in sight of the finish they had a mast failure and lost their rig. Jon and I took the win, but really the other boys deserved it. After returning ashore, we borrowed a rib and went out to help the boys sort the mess out. It was a bit of a sombre end to tricky but fun day.
On the final day, and with sailors needing to get away that evening, the race committee took the sensible decision to more racing forward to the morning Northerly breeze. This was good, but did mean we were on an 8am start and thus in the boat park before 7! When we made it out on to the water I was happy but I have to say, at 5.50 when our alarm went off, I wasn’t quite as enthused. The final day wasn’t quite what Jon and I had planned, after a few bad lay lines in the first race and some gear failure which we fixed on the go in the second race, it wasn’t quite how we wanted the end the week. Though fortunately we had done enough on the previous days to seal the regatta win. We got back to the shore just as the wind died completely and the organisers canned racing for the rest of the day.
That was it Jon and I were foiling week champs. After some wild racing, some mega wipe outs and some scary speeds we were on the top step of the podium. I can remember the last time I stood next to Jon up there but it felt good!
We quickly de rigged the boats in the searing Italian heat and it was at this stage, the Dazed and confused Tom began, which is where I started this blog. So yes, I am currently on a very long flight back out to Rio to hook up with my other favourite sailing partner in crime Nikki. We have one last camp work with Ben and Nicola before they are ready and set for the Games. I have been doing rather a lot of sailing recently but I still can’t wait to go charging around Rio harbour again.
For now, me and my compression socks are going to try and catch up on some sleep.