Lucy Macgregor is looking ahead to the challenges that await on the road to Rio 2016.
Lucy MacGregor, Annie Lush and Kate MacGregor (GBR) competing in the Women’s Match Racing (Elliott 6M) event in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.
I always knew I wanted to carry on for 2016 but because match racing is out for the Rio Games this has involved a change in class to the catamaran.
Since October I’ve been sailing with Tom Phipps and it’s been awesome fun. I’ve never done any cat sailing before so this is a big new challenge for me. It’s a very different type of sailing from what I’ve been doing for the past seven years in the Yngling and then match racing.
There were other classes I could have looked at moving into but I just felt the style of sailing in the cat might suit me a bit better and I’m really pleased with the choice I’ve made.
Tom and I have known of each other for a while but didn’t know each other but he has done a huge amount of multihull sailing before, which has helped my learning massively. Having gone from campaigning with all women crews over the past seven years it’s inevitably different sailing with a boy but Tom is very easy going and making it enjoyable.
Although we aren’t expecting the first of the new Olympic class Nacra 17 boats to arrive until January, the RYA have been running a cat training squad on four teams coached by Steve Lovegrove.
For me everything has just been about getting to grips with sailing a catamaran. The speed aspect is huge in cat sailing and very different to what I’ve been used to in the Elliott 6m match racing. In the Elliott you were often just talking about 0.something of a knot in speed difference by tweaking bits and bobs, but with the cat the range in speed is huge if you get things just right.
There’s been lots of capsizing too and the breeze hasn’t really helped, I think we’ve only had two days where it’s dipped below 15 knots! But that’s made for some exciting sailing and it’s been a really good laugh.
Volvo Match Racing Girls. Palma, Spain Annie Lush, Lucy and Kate Macgregor
I’ve enjoyed training as part of a squad again too. There’s a mix of people who have done a lot of cat sailing and those of us who are pretty new to it. This is a nice balance because the less experienced cat sailors amongst us can learn loads from those who have done a lot, while maybe we bring some fresh new ideas to things from our experiences in other classes.
I also feel I can bring some really valuable experience of Olympic campaigning to mine and Tom’s partnership now. The planning side of things is probably the biggest thing I took from our match racing campaign; when to work on what, what events to put the big efforts into, when to take a step back, review where you are at and be objective and critical.
At the moment, things aren’t too full on and it’s just nice to be sailing with a purpose again while still having a bit of a ‘normal’ life outside sailing.
I thought it was going to take a lot longer than it actually did to bounce back physically and mentally after the Olympics. Annie, Kate and I didn’t achieve what we wanted to at the Games but when we look back there were so many amazing memories from those two weeks that any time we do feel disappointed something is there to pick you up a bit, whether the support we had from the public or being part of those incredible home Games.
Having the new challenge of the cat has also definitely helped too. If the Elliott was in the Games again for 2016 I probably wouldn’t have got into the boat until after Christmas. But learning to sail a cat has actually felt like a break and I wouldn’t change the past couple of months for anything. I had to get back out on the water quickly because I was changing classes so it’s given me something really fun and exciting to focus on.
Myself, Annie and Kate did go out to Korea last month to take part in the Busan Cup International Women’s Match Race. That was really nice as the last time we sailed together was the last race of the Olympics. We had all missed sailing with each other, while, with five sailors per boat, we were joined by the British sailing team’s performance analyst, Emily, and meteorologist, Libby. It was good to be able to say thanks to them for all their help too.
I’m now really looking forward to getting going properly after Christmas; going abroad and training again and setting our campaign up with getting sponsors on board and all that sort of thing. I’ve not really been in a gym in the past few months either but all that will change after Christmas! I’m beginning to see what the next four years might look like now and that’s filled Tom and I with a lot of confidence about what may be possible. It’s very exciting.