by Helena Lucas
British Paralymic medallist Helena Lucas is just off her silver medal victory in Hyeres and is preparing for the next event, the Delta Lloyd Regatta. Lucas brings us up to date on her accomplishments and the road ahead.
Helena Lucas, 2.4mR - 2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres
I was really pleased to win a silver medal at Hyeres - the fourth event in the ISAF World Cup Series and my first 2.4mR event since the Paralympics.
I hadn’t stepped into a 2.4mR at all since the Games so I went to Hyeres with no expectations as to how it was going to go - my goal was just to enjoy it, get racing again, see where I was at and what I need to work on.
Everything actually came back quite quickly, which was reassuring. I did three days of training with my coach, Ian Barker, before the event started and on the last day we chatted through a few things about the racing, which just meant everything was fresh in my mind.
Being out of the boat for a while actually makes it easier to step back, look at the big picture and really think about what your priorities are in each race. I knew I had to keep it simple, and I set myself three priorities in each race to focus on and do well.
I knew my starting was going to be a bit rusty, but I was never worried about that as I know how to work on that. But even from the practice race on Sunday I felt I was actually racing really well and I was making sensible decisions. I was also really relaxed while I was racing, which I think helped me recognise and seize opportunities as they arose in a race.
Although I went into the event relaxed and looking to enjoy it I pretty quickly learned my competitors were taking it very seriously! This wasn’t just my first event since the Paralympics but also Heiko Kroger (GER) and Damien Seguin’s (FRA) too. I think being Paralympic champion did make me more of a target and there was certainly some pretty intense racing out there. I even ended up in the protest room one night, which was definitely not on the agenda beforehand! But all good experience for the future.
It was also really nice to see so many people I hadn’t seen since the Games, and to be part of the whole British Sailing Team again, which I haven’t been since Sail for Gold Regatta last June. The Games seem such an unbelievably long time ago now that to still have people congratulating me was really lovely, but sometimes I’d forget and be thinking ‘For what??’
The British team were scattered around staying in different accommodation in Hyeres. However the team chef was out there, so every evening the team would eat together, catch up and chat about everyone’s days.
I was back in Hyeres this weekend for an SB20 Grand Prix event I did with Team Volvo's Lucy Macgregor and Ali Young and Richard Mason. The first race we did was the first time we had ever sailed together and the first time I’d helmed an SB20. I needed some advice on rigging the boat!
But it was great, we finished fifth overall and first female helm. There are some fantastic sailors in the class, and for most this is their hobby not their job, so there’s a slightly different attitude and approach to it. It’s less intense and really sociable. The four of us in our boat all have different experiences so it was interesting to get other people’s take on things and learn from each other. I love Hyeres too, so it was good.
There was a nice surprise when I got back from Hyeres last weekend. Just when you think all the post Games furore is starting to quieten down, tickets for the Royal Box at Wimbledon arrived! I’ve never been to Wimbledon before but always wanted to go. It was my birthday on Monday and this was such an awesome birthday present! I’m due to go on the middle Saturday so who knows who will be the same day as me? I’m really excited about it!
But before that I have my next 2.4mR event at the Delta Lloyd Regatta in Holland later this month, so another couple of weeks and I’ll be off again. But, it is great to be back!