IT was nice to end the season on a high with a win at the Radial Inlands at Rutland where 104 sailors competed in the light winds.

I was pushed hard by Cameron Douglas and Tom Britz, both names to look out for in the future. Perhaps one or both could be a future Youth World Champion?

Friday the thirteenth is said to be unlucky and unfortunately it was for me as I was involved in a pile up on the M1 where I got hit from behind whilst stationary into the car in front of me, on my way to see my University friend Paul Hyde and his wife Tab and their baby girl. I was extremely lucky I was not towing a boat as it surely would have been a write off.

That weekend I was coaching at the Midlands Regional training at Grafham Water, and actually I felt far worse from the whiplash (stiff neck plus pins and needles/pain/numbness in my face, shoulders, arms, hands and upper back) on the Saturday night than I did on the Friday. It was also a difficult day in the office with a forecast of 47 knots winds coming. We just did a very quick morning session before all hell broke loose, and spent the rest of the day indoors.

Fortunately the weather on the second day was far better and we managed to get around five hours on the water. Then I was straight off to Heathrow airport to catch a flight to Nice for my next coaching job in Italy. Coincidently Shirley Robertson was also on the flight and was even later arriving than I was.

I actually arrived at Imperia around 3am Monday morning due to flight delays, feeling extremely stiff, and so 8am to collect the Bytes seemed like quite an early start. The Byte is a great little boat with a hull much smaller and lighter than a Laser, and a two part carbon mast and fully battened sail which looks much like a 29er mainsail – perhaps unsurprisingly as it was developed by Bethwaite.

The Youth Olympics is to be sailed in the Byte, and my latest job was working with four Norwegian sailors (two boys and two girls) in preparation for the Europeans next month. This is the qualification event for the Youth Olympics next year with the top seven European Nations getting a place.

Unfortunately when I took the sailors for some interval training (sprint then rest) I managed to get a grade 2 tear of my hamstring. Just as I accelerated to full speed I felt an almighty twang which was accompanied by a terrific pain, and I immediately lost the ability to walk (let alone run)… I now know how the 100 metre runner feels when he/she collapses writhing in agony after the first 10 metres.

Fortunately I knew what to do and got hold of pain killers and applied ice as soon as possible, and I even managed to see a physio whilst I was in Italy. Despite this and having to do huge amounts of stretching for my neck I think the training went well with the Norwegian sailors dominating the racing I did with the other teams at the end of the week.

I am now safely back in Weymouth waiting for my van, neck and leg to be repaired (lots of rest, physio, gentle pilates and the odd call to the garage!)…