Lijia Xu has just returned from her second World Cup victory in Miami in the Laser Radial class (to add to her win at the first event in Melbourne) to make it two out of two in the series. Xu who is coached by Jon Emmett from Weir Wood Sailing Club had a difficult World Championship in Perth last year being caught over the line twice and also disqualified for a rule infringement on the first day when she tacked in too late at the windward mark. However she still did enough to qualify herself for a spot at this year’s Olympics in the Women’s single handed class.
Therefore to come straight back with a regatta win shows true strength of character, something of which Olympic Champions are surely made. Miami was actually the first grade one international regatta of 2012 with the previous event in the series being held last year in Melbourne.
Even the start of Miami was less than ideal, with the planned flights to Chicago cancelled making for an exhausting journey which took far longer than it should have done. Xu had one of the worst first days of the top sailors, just scraping a top five finish in the first race after a poor start, before picking up a large discard in the second race of the series. However this did not stop her, and showing a maturity beyond her age, she put together a consistent regatta by avoiding high risk strategies and playing to her strength. Indeed she improved tremendously as the regatta moved on.
The final day of the regatta always ends in a medal race. A result which you have to count in your series and one which is worth double points. Just like in Melbourne only two people could take the Gold medal and one of them was Xu.
She played a good game and eventually sailed her nearest rival to second to last place. She also had to sail her nearest rival down the fleet in Melbourne, so these regattas really are great practice for the Olympics which could well be decided in such a fashion.
She now has the opportunity to have a little break from sailing and there follows a period of general training before heading to Europe in the Spring, and it now feels like the countdown to the Olympics is sounding ever closer and ever louder.