My preparation for the Radial Worlds in Largs was all held in light winds. In fact the last major event I did was the Dutch Europa cup where we managed to complete only three races in four days, and the wind was so light on the final day that you could not sail upwind and instead I opted to sail to the nearest beach where I got rescued by a RIB.

I took every opportunity to go out in the last few weeks before the Worlds but the wind always seemed to be very light and of course Sailing in Portland Harbour the water was also very flat. However I got out every day that I could even if it was only for an hour.

The last regatta I did was the Laser Performance World Open which was also all held in under 5 knots. I thought it was a great event with a good social in the evening (even if I did hurt my hand as well as my pride falling off the bucking bronco, and taking all the skin off my elbow on the bouncy castle – fun and games can be dangerous). What I particularly enjoyed was having the whole Laser family there (all the boats manufactured by Laser Performance), even if the timing was not ideal, the day after my good University friend Iain Reynolds’ wedding to Zoe at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

My trip up to Largs was pretty eventful but sensibly I had allowed a whole day to do this which was just as well… Every 50 miles I went north the temperature dropped one degree and the spots of rain started. By the time I got half way my van decided it did not like it and I lost all power. Usually after I had just overtaken a large lorry… So I had to pull over to the hard shoulder and restart my engine only to over take the same lorry and then lose all power again!

The third time this happened I decided I was in trouble. Just then I saw an AA van who I persuaded to pull over but he explained that unfortunately I needed to make an official call. So I pulled up at the next service station and made the call. I was told to expect a two hour wait due to high call volumes so I gave the B&B a call to say I had no idea what time I was going to get there/if I was going to get there… After an hour I had a call from a recovery garage saying can I drive over. They were in the same service station as me but about 300 metres away (I could not see them because they were the other side of a BP garage).

Anyway they stuck a computer into my van and revved the engine like hell for half an hour and said the issue was with a fuel pump and that it was not something they could fix there and then, so I took the chance and continued up to Largs. (I was offered a tow home but this was not really what I wanted to do)… Fortunately I made it (although it was getting late) and my B&B, Broomlodge was walking distance from the Sailing Club so if I broke down I could still make it to my boat. I was actually in the same B&B as Mark Howard an ex Laser Sailor/Coach whom I have been mates with for many years but unfortunately he did not have a car at all, so I ended up giving him lifts!

The first few days of training were windy and I found it hard to get up to speed in the short chop and strong winds, so I was glad to be up early although the thought crossed my mind that if it was going to be like this all week perhaps some rest would be more useful. I had a pre-event massage and measured in without problem, so we were all ready to go.

Day one was strong breeze and a long sail to the starting area but it was well worth the long sail to have steadier breeze. We had four days of round robin (racing in 2 groups of mixed ability) before being split into Gold/Silver (top 50% and bottom 50%) for the final two days.

The first race I tacked off the port end with the eventual race winner but unfortunately as I was playing the sheet the whole of the outhaul handle got drawn into the ratchet block along with the mainsheet… I can honestly say I have been racing Lasers for nearly twenty years and this has never happened before. It certainly made sheeting in and out nearly impossible!

I managed to get to the top mark well inside the top ten but I could not play the mainsheet on the reach, so I just pointed at the next mark and hiked like hell. Down the run I had to sail dead downwind as I could not adjust the mainsheet, whilst I tried to remove the outhaul, much to the amusement of all the boats overtaking me. First I managed to pull it all the way through (now giving me a bar tight outhaul) before finally managing to free it just before the bottom mark. Unfortunately up the next beat the wind shifted about 90 degrees, turning the beat (and the next run) into a reach making overtaking impossible, so I had to settle for a 12th. Not great but still OK. The second fleet, which started later than us had their race abandoned.

The second race was pretty much a carbon copy with a large shift to the right up the final beat. Unfortunately for me this meant that the half dozen or so boats who had got onto starboard early were lifted up to the top mark, which I had now overstood, giving me another 12th and putting me just outside the top twenty overall. No disaster but hardly the consistent start I had wanted.

However day two and a lighter breeze which was shifty but no major shifts saw a 5th and a 4th, putting me just outside the top ten and back in the game as it were.

Day three and the weather took a real turn for the worst with over 30 knots in the morning. We were postponed onshore for several hours before launching in a rapidly dying breeze. A top five result turned into a 13th when the breeze died down the final run. It filled in from the right of the run, but if I sailed over there I would be right in the pack, so I decided the sensible thing was to stay in the middle of the run so when the fleet got level with me downwind I would have a shorter distance to the mark. However the breeze stayed on the right and the whole bunch sailed around me, leaving me a 13th, my worst race of the regatta.

However I was able to make up for this in the next race working my way right, rounding the top mark in second and pulling away from the fleet down the run. Up the next beat the wind continued to die and about 100 metres from the windward mark the race was abandoned and we were all towed in. What a day 30, knots to 3 knots.

Day four and we once again had strong breeze. In the first race I finished sixth but the wind started to die resulting in several recalls as everyone tried to start by the committee boat. Finally we got away and I was maybe sixth boat down, and one of the first to tack. With the wind shifting further right I managed to get into third up the first beat but once again the race committee decided to abandon. This was the second race which was abandoned whilst I was in the top three.

So going into the finals I was in ninth place, just four points off fifth place and a consistent opening series. The finals is where all the major place changes occur, as now the fleet is twice as hard!

I was raring to go on day five which was once again very light winds and keen to get more races in (currently we had only had six). We took to the water early but at no point was the wind settled enough to race. Finally the abandoned flag was hoisted and we all started to be towed in at four o’clock, only for the wind to fill in from the opposite direction five minutes later. C’est la vie.

Day six and it was back to strong winds… 30 knots plus. So once again no racing and my ninth place stands. A disappointing end but it was the same for everyone and things could have been very different if they had had one final race (which everyone would have had to count) and some people were black flagged, which happened to some sailors in the Women’s World Championships which was being raced at the same time on a race course closer to the club (they got one very light race in on the penultimate day). It retrospect, a top ten position in a World Championship is very respectable, it was just not what I had hoped for.