Lijia Xu returns

Well after a few days rest at home (which included a trip to Brighton hospital for a guided Cortisone injection in my left shoulder) it was back out to Holland to meet Lily (Lijia Xu) and her team mate Eko (Dongshuang Zhang). Our flights (mine from Gatwick and theirs from Shanghai) arrived at exactly the same time. So I met them at the conveyor belt at the airport! We then took the shuttle bus to collect my van, which was pretty easy to spot with the boat on the roof. Unfortunately I was not quite quick enough paying for car parking and had to pay an extra day by a couple of minutes. Next time I will run!

We spent the first night in a very nice hotel, as the bungalow accommodation we had was not available until the next day. Unfortunately due to a boiler problem we ended up changing bungalows, so during the event we ended up having three separate accommodations which was far from ideal. We were unable to find a convenient place to do physical training but on the up side Lily did arrive a few days before the regatta - so this time we were much better prepared - which showed in the results. Making the medal race was really good and straight after we packed the container and all piled into my van to drive home (to Weymouth). We really wasted no time and were able to start training the very next day.

So for Sail for Gold we were finally properly prepared and this showed in the results, with Lily and Eko taking 1st and 2nd place in the first five races and securing Gold and Silver overall with a day to spare. More than that, we have been able to find clear goals for the next months training, focusing on weaknesses, as well as stepping up the physical training. I spent the month living in the same house as my sailors and the relaxed atmosphere really helped the quality of the training.

Of course Lily is still busy and missed prize giving at Sail for Gold as she had a public appearance to make with the King of Greece, competing in a classic yacht regatta, but there is no rush to do the debrief and a break really can be a good thing, as long as it is at the right time. Our focus now is to make the most of every day that we have left in the UK.

One thing which has always really impressed me about Lily is her work ethic: she always works really hard even when she does not feel like it, so I feel my job as coach is to make sure that her training is both as efficient (not wasting any time) and as effective (getting the best possible end results) as possible. Overall she has been the easiest sailor to work with I have ever had.