BRISTOW DIARIES – THE HIGHEST AN ALL-GIRL PAIRING HAS EVER ACHIEVED


The Nationals were Emily and I’s last event competing together in the 29er before we transition into the 49erFX. After taking six months apart sailing with different people in different classes, in order to improve ourselves as a team, we really wanted to put in a really good last performance. We were also the defending Ladies National Champions and, having forgotten to get our trophies engraved, needed to redefend the title so were feeling the pressure.

 

The forecast for the 3 day qualifying series was light winds which, traditionally for us as one of the heavier pairings in the fleet, have been more difficult and something we have struggled in. However, the practice and learning we have taken from other people, as well as some tough lessons learnt at the Worlds the previous week which were raced in mostly sub 10 knots, came through. We managed to get 2, 1, 8 by winning the starboard end with good speed. These results put us in 1st place in our flight and 4th overall, only 3 points behind the leaders. The second and final day of qualifying came about with similar conditions although this time we were racing outside of the harbour which added a slight chop to the racing meaning that the start and boat-speed were even more critical to get away from the fleet into clear air. We again managed to pull together a very consistent day in such fickle conditions, finishing with all top 10’s and a bullet in the last race which put us in 2nd going into the final series.

The third day was a lot breezier and from a different direction, coming over the harbour wall. Anyone who has raced at Weymouth before will know that this direction brings big gusts and big shifts, especially as you approach the top mark and get closer to the wall. We struggled with the starts for the first time at the beginning of the day but as the day progressed we managed to get to grips more with the difficult conditions, closing off the day with all top 10’s. The fourth day was breezier and we put in a great set of results but the real competition came about at the end of the day when the first ever, long awaited, crews race begun. The harnesses came off the crews and onto the helms and the helms tentatively handed over the rudders to their partners. Safe to say there were definitely more capsizes in this race than any other as everyone struggled with mastering their partner’s jobs.

The last day started with a lot of nerves. Emily was up at 6am refreshing the UCAS page to get her A-level results and to see which university she had got into, whilst I was refreshing the XC Weather page to see if the wind would drop below 30kts and enable us to go sailing. Luckily for both of us, Emily got her place at university and the wind did drop just about enough for us to get one race in, bringing in the second discard. We finished the race in 2nd after a tense battle with Max and Ross, who were one point behind us and needed to beat us in that race to overtake us on the podium. We finished our youth career at the top of the Ladies podium again, and finished 2nd overall – the highest an all-girl pairing has ever achieved. We have loved the last 4 years of the class and are now very excited to be moving onwards onto the next stage of our journey; the 49erFX.

8/31/2017

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