2011 has been another really enjoyably year for The Match Race Girls and three of us are delighted to have finished it another successful one having just touched down in Heathrow with Silver medals won at the ISAF World Championships in Perth, Australia.
The Worlds this year was probably one of the hardest events we have ever competed in. Match Racing, with its short races, often feels like a bit of a sprint, this event however definitely felt more like a marathon! We competed for 14 days in the end, and did 43 races.
To begin with we were racing one day on, one day off while the other group raced but unfortunately after the first round we had to fight our way through the repecharge so the last 7 days we raced solidly to make it through to the quarters, semis and finally the finals on the 16th.
The main problem with this of course is there was very little time left to do the tourist bits! Overall we are very pleased with our result, we sailed the best we have ever sailed together and despite how the 0-4 score line looks from the finals, we gave the American team a very hard battle, especially as we had had to race 20 more races than them over the two week event! Next year is the one that counts!
It has been one of the more eventful years of our campaign! It did not start quite as well as we would hope when, whilst training for our first event of the year in Miami in January, Annie gave us a bit of a scare with an accident falling off the Elliott 6m on land which resulted in a bad cut on her head, dislocated wrist, broken nose and not being able to sail at all for the next month.
Mary Rook kindly flew in from Australia to fill in for Annie for the Miami Olympic Classes regatta and in the circumstances a 4th was a great finish. We’re pleased to say Annie is now fully recovered and the year started to become eventful for somewhat better reasons…
In February The Match Race Girls let a male member into the team. Maurice Paardenkooper who had previously been working with the Dutch team became our full time coach and since Day 1 we have not looked back. Maurice has been great to work with over the last 10 months and we are really looking forward to the next 8 with him.
We were also lucky to team up with some great sponsors over the spring. Becoming part of Team Volvo for Life was a big step for us, not only are the trips to and from Weymouth a much comfier ride for us now, but we have also been able to bring in some great training partners to support us in our campaign and it has been brilliant to be part of the success that is Team Volvo for Life.
This coincided with Sperry Topsider and Oakley joining our team and providing fantastic equipment for us to sail in. Huge thanks go to all our sponsors and supporters, without whom we would not be able to push the boundaries in our training to get to where we need to be to win Gold next year.
After training in Palma over the February and March (again big thanks to all our training partners and Mary for filling in for Annie during some of this time) April saw the start of the European events which began in Palma. Unfortunately we came away from Mallorca with a bit of an indifferent result and a mixed performance.
Two weeks later however we were in Hyeres for the third World Cup event of the year and a week later we returned with Gold; A great finals saw us seal the win over Sally Barkow’s USA team 3-0 in light tricky winds.
Weymouth is a huge focus of ours and, similar to our plans this year, we were back training there as soon as possible in the spring trying to get used to the various courses we could be sailed on at the Games.
We ended up spending a lot of time there racing as well as Skandia Sail for Gold and the Pre-Olympic Test Event were held there. It was great to have some sponsors and supporters come down on ‘Premier Flair’ and watch us win Silver at Sail for Gold, shame we couldn’t pull the same result out at the Test Event!
With September approaching it was time to freshen up and get away from Weymouth for a bit.
First stop was Sheboygan for some awesome training against Barkow’s team before a trip down to race in Chicago; this time Maurice was sailing with us in Tom 28 boats against some men teams.
We were pleased to put the boys in their place and win the event however unfortunately we couldn’t manage quite the same in Sheboygan the following week for the Nations Cup Grand Final where we sailed in the Open fleet after a last minute invite.
Although tactically we were even or better, we were 70kg lighter than the other teams and it showed big time in the semi and petite finals. Racing against the guys is always a bit of fun though and the whole trip was a good wake up having sailed the same boats against the same people for the last year.
Next big event of the year, selection, we made it! At the end of September we were officially selected to represent team GB at the Olympics and we can’t wait!
It is definitely a little scary that we are so close to the start of the Olympic Games in July next year.
We still have a huge amount we want to learn and improve on before then but it is also so exciting that after so many years of trying to be the best at what we do, we will have the opportunity to put it to the test and represent Great Britain on home waters just down the road from Poole Harbour where we all live and were brought up on the water.
Finally we like to thank everyone who has supported us this year however big or small. We have great support from everyone within Skandia Team GBR and feel very luckily to have great personal team sponsors some of which have been supporting us since the 2012 Olympics seemed a very far away!
The support we have had during events like the Worlds just gone we find simply amazing and rest assured we’ll do everything we can in the next seven months to try and win an Olympic Gold for you!
Merry Christmas and a happy and successful New Year, Lucy, Annie and Kate xxx