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Off to China...
Well I spent most of the UK Radial Nationals trying to get a Chinese Visa and there were some very early mornings writing letters, booking flights and other administration duties, but it was worth it when it was finally done. In fact I was more pleased when I checked my Blackberry that my Business Visa had been sorted (allowing me to come and go freely over the next twelve months) than the fact that I had won the Nationals for the fifth time!
I remember very well leaving launching as late as possible. With no wind at 9:00am and a cut off time of 3:00pm it is always tempting to wish for no racing especially when you are winning the Nationals and therefore the only way you can go is down! It also happened that on the last day my Visa was due to be processed by 12:00 (I literally got a Visa as fast as possible). However at 12:00 there was no news and the wind was filling in, and no news at 12:15, 12:30, 12:45. Eventually I had to launch or risk missing the race. In fact the Silver fleet which were held back were queuing to launch as I (the very last person to launch in Gold) finally made it to the water.
Luck was with me and despite a very slow sail to the start (no towing allowed) I made it out just in time for the start of the Standard rigs. I dumped my stuff off at the Committee boat (I must say a quick thanks to Duncan Hepplewhite who looked after my stuff the rest of the week) and we were off. A poor start near the pin end made it hard for me to get from the left to the favoured right side of the course but I managed to round in the first half dozen which is where I stayed all the race. With the rest of the top Brits fairing even worse than me off the line I was pretty safe for the Championships.
There was however a very strong international contingent and going down the final run I was just behind my closest rival (for third overall). I opted for the left hand side, which had paid on the previous run but lived to regret it as it peeled off slightly to the right. With a huge group of boats behind I could not get back across without going through a huge amount of dirty wind, so I opted to stay where I was, rather than risk dropping out of the top ten. As it was I stayed leading boat on the left but lost a couple of boats on the right with my closet rival winning the race to take third by a point (I would have won on tie-breaker).
However sometimes it is good to be disappointed as it only makes you drive harder. I had had a very busy week with many things on my mind, so it was a fair result considering a few minor hiccups that happened like a broken rudder, a non-ratcheting ratchet block which I replaced by a non-turning ratchet block, not to mention a few sleepless nights as I worked out how I was going to get everything done before I went to China (previously I was booked pretty much every day in the UK up until the World championships in Perth) but it is all done and dusted and I can now look forward to a new challenge. Time to get practising with those chop sticks!!!