Team Jolly (Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie) update on the Olympic Womens 470 at Weymouth
A bit of an update of how the Pre Olympic Regatta went for us...
The overall result was not what we were looking for, obviously we went to Weymouth looking to win, and after some a) Weird boat things, and b) Rather poor decision making at times, we came away with a fourth, which was a little surprising, considering how badly we sailed at times, we were happy to just make the medal race!
We went into the regatta feeling good, but had an absolute shocker of a first race, just in the wrong place every leg, and just couldn't seem to catch back up. We followed that one up with a slightly better race number two (which we later found was a black flag - over the line early - so actually even worse), but still didn't feel quite on the pace.
When we got in, we did a full check of all the settings, and discovered that our rig was looser than we had thought (the rig tension is controlled by the front stay - forestay) and we had checked it the day before racing started, so we were a little confused, as we had not changed anything. So we decided to just come down early the next day and do a full check to make sure nothing was playing up again.
It was lucky that we did, as just after re-doing all the settings we discovered that one of the wires that makes up the forestay was snapped half through, so it was a rush job to change it out with a new one, and then once again re-do all the settings. We made good time, and got out to the race course with no change to our normal schedule, sailed a good first race, then had a bit of a shocker in the second race when the wind got up a bit and we felt extremely slow upwind, and just couldn't seem to get the boat going (our call for this is 'where's the bucket???' as it just feels like we are dragging a bucket around.. but we did check, and there was nothing there...).
So once again, when we got ashore it was time to recheck all the settings (I think we set a record for the number of rig checks..) only to find that this time our numbers were out, and the mast was raked further forward than we thought, so we had been in the wrong setting all day - hence the bucket call. More annoying was that we had checked all this before we went out, so either we didn't check well enough, or something was up with the rig (sadly looking back, most likely a 'didn't check well enough' problem.
So by day three we were just determined to actually have the boat set up right, and finally start sailing a little better. There was a good 18-25 knots of wind, and we were racing in Portland Harbour (which was a little limited in size - as we were doing four laps instead of the normal two) so the water was very flat. We sailed two good races, slowly chipping away at the boats ahead to finish the day with two thirds - a bit more what we were looking for!
Day four was the killer for us, we made a terrible decision on the first leg, to round the first mark in the last four boats, then followed that up with nothing better, to place 17th, which was pretty much the end of our chance of a medal. We did at least bounce back in the second race of the day, with a fourth, but from here on out it was all too little too late..
The last day of normal fleet racing was great fun, we were out in the ocean course, and there was a rather solid breeze - which built throughout the day, and some rather impressive waves. We owned the first race, sailing fast and smart, and were all ready to do it again in the second race, where we rounded the first top mark in third, then had a complete fail in boat handling, capsizing on the first downwind leg, to put us back to 17th. We tried to race back up the fleet, but eventually ran out of runway, and finished seventh, not quite the day we had wanted, but it was at least enough to get us in the medal race!
We finally got our act together for the medal race, and sailed a great race, in the top four for the first two laps, then taking the lead on the last upwind leg to sail away with the win, luckily for us the boats in front of us in the overall standings all had bad races, and we jumped up the leader board from seventh to fourth, about as good as we could have hoped for with the way we started off the event.
Once we had finished we were lucky enough to have time to watch a few of the other kiwis in their medal races - from our little NZ flagged area on the Nothe (a big grass area up on a hill, near an old castle, that overlooks the medal race course), and still get the boat and all our mountains of gear packed up in time, and put in a container bound for Perth.
Then it was time to head home, where we are all set for a bit of a break from sailing, and a return to the planning board, to make sure we learn from this regatta, and ensure that we won't be making the same mistakes in the future!
Thank you all for your support!
Jo & Polly
Team Jolly www.teamjollyracing.com Thank you to our supporters and suppliers:
SPARC and the New Zealand Academy of Sport, Yachting New Zealand, Donaghys, Kaenon Sunglasses, Harken, Lynn River, Mackay Boats and Quantum Sails.
And a special thank you to Nathan Handley, the third member of Team Jolly, and the one who made sure we kept chipping away even though we were having a shocker!!