Red Bull 49erFX- Looking back on nine weeks in Europe

Red Bull 49erFX team just after a tack - 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup, Hyeres, France
Thom Thow Photography
Red Bull 49erFX team of Molly Meech and Alex Maloney report after a long tour in Europe

After nine weeks on tour we made it back to New Zealand, and that in itself felt like a great success. Last year we were coached through the logistics of getting in and out of Europe, but for the end of this last trip we were flying solo. We have heard a few nightmare stories, so were fully alert and determined to get home in one piece.

Driving to Barcelona from Garda led us down to the southern coast of Italy, France and then Spain. It was a scenic drive, starting with fields of wildflowers, then leading to the windy cliff roads that look straight down to cute seaside towns. Passing places like Monaco, it was hard not to stop and go explore - unfortunately the big trailer we tow doesn’t lend itself to cobblestoned street adventuring. Besides, we were two girls with a tight time frame... We were not going to miss that flight home!

After driving through three countries in one day, there was often a confusion between 'grazie', 'merci' or 'gracias', when thanking people. Quite often this resulted in a word-flurry of them all, until we clicked which 'thank you' was appropriate to the new country. Thankfully, the people we met were able to have a chuckle with us too. We made it to Barcelona with a whole heap of toll tickets, keen to stretch out, and more than ready to get onto the flight home.

Molly Meech (left) and Alex Maloney
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We proceeded with caution on these final stages, and the friendliness of everyone that saw us coming was awesome, and at times comical. From the senior factory workers directing and then convoyed us to our new storage facility in a Barcelona Industrial area, to the airport assistance who greeted with us with a huge smile when he saw us coming with all our gear, rigs and sail tubes. Compared to the normal look of dread they give us, this had to be the friendliest airport employee ever! His enthusiasm was rivaled only by the Euro lease worker who drove down the block chasing us, after seeing us pass the car drop off place twice. Humanity can be surprisingly kind, and it was also amazing how much a little patience and a smile can help out two tired travellers!

With the flights and stop-overs all merging into one, to make a combined travel time of 35 hours, this trip home seemed like one of the longest yet - but its so nice to be home. We are currently taking two weeks off sailing, so Molly has gone home to the Mount, while Alex is enjoying Auckland.

After spending our first weekend at home relaxing, the buzz-word for the next week was 'fitness'. Our friends at High Performance Sport are trying some new things with our workouts that will give us gains on the water. It is all good fun, although as the week goes on, the tiredness accumulates. Alex was in the world of soreness by the end of the week, and it did make her question whether this was how all the crews felt like after the windy event. She can’t remember ever appreciating Sunday rest-day so much!

2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup, Hyeres,France 06 1530
Thom Thow Photography

Alex then went to watch fellow Red Bull athlete, MadMike compete in a car drifting event over the weekend. A completely different sport to ours, she didn’t know what to expect, but was soon on the edge of her seat. It was so impressive to see him in his element, and it was obvious straight away how skilled these athletes are. It’s a Crazy sport!

Molly has been down in Mount Maunganui. As always, it’s great to be back at home to spend time with her parents, but, unfortunately, it is also the time to catch up on some university work. Amongst ticking off multiple uni papers, her frequently needed breaks include long bike rides, gym, and a bit of surfing – all of which help to keep life a bit more balanced. As the beach is only a block away, temptations are always high in the sunny Bay of Plenty, despite winter approaching.

These few weeks at home also have the usual logistics and debriefings that follow a long trip. Most importantly, it is great to be able to disconnect from sailing, and enjoy friends and family. Even after seeing some amazing sights in Europe, it always surprises us how beautiful New Zealand is. It is safe to say; there is no better place than home.

We start sailing again in a week’s time, and by then we will be looking forward to hitting the water, to try to turn a few of our weaknesses into strengths. Until then, we will be enjoying the break and putting our feet up when we can!

For previous blogs from Alex and Molly click here

2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup, Hyeres, France
Thom Thow Photography