New Year, New Zealand
New Zealand was an awesome place to go to get away from cold, rainy England and give a real boost to the start of my Olympic Year. I went out there to compete in the 2008 RS:X World Championships and concentrate on my fitness training.
I had some really productive training two weeks prior to the event, sailing off Takapuna Beach on the North Shore of Auckland with my new training partner the RS:X European Champion from Spain; Marina Albeau. This set me up with some good speed and venue knowledge. Once the racing started we could see that we were in for a regatta of mixed conditions. The first two days started with an 8-10 knot onshore breeze, which then swung offshore for the next few days with gusts of up to 14 knots. The penultimate day gave us a very light and fickle easterly cross-shore breeze, which built overnight to 14 knots for the medal race. I finished 8th woman out of 76, which was a disappointing result, as I felt I was sailing well enough to be inside the top five. I was going consistently well in the lighter winds, especially my upwind speed, but some high scores let me down when I caught weed in a few races. The final killer was in the medal race, where a good race could have put me into 6th overall but I wiped out into a mark and after recovering only two places I finished 8th, so a damaging 16 points were added to my score. This was even more embarrassing for me as my parents and my boyfriend Greg, who had flown out to New Zealand for a holiday, were watching from the beach!
The day after the Worlds was the start of my two-week holiday. The wind was howling so Greg and I headed about an hour north with a crowd of windsurfers and went wave sailing for the afternoon on our new North and Fanatic kit that Greg had flown out with. That evening we drove three hours south to Hamilton in our hired campervan, where we stopped overnight on our five-hour journey down to Lake Taupo. Some of the other Brits came down with us and first on the list of activities was a 47m bungee-jump into a river, the next day it was onto white-water rafting, both of which were awesome. But our main destination was Taranaki, a round peninsular on the west coast with a mountain on it, so the wind accelerates round it and in any direction there is always a wicked beach to go wave sailing. Not only that but the surfing is amazing too due to the many rivers that come down from the mountain. The best thing though is that it is uncrowded; often it was just us and our mates on the beach. Trying to negotiate between rocks or launch off boulders with breaking waves pounding you and your kit was pretty sketchy, but I have never experienced better waves. I seriously recommend going there to any fanatical wave sailor or surfer; we didn’t want to leave.
The holiday had to come to an end, however, and we headed back up to Auckland to get back into training. We stopped via Raglan on the way home, a well-known surf beach, but the swell was pretty small and the waves were crowded. Greg stayed a few days in Auckland for his birthday and then flew home to leave me to continue training. So back into two hour bike rides in the morning with my training partner Elliot Carney, then RS:X sailing in the afternoon with him and Marina (who finished 3rd at the worlds). Often other girls would join in with our practice races, including Barbara Kendall who is from New Zealand (she finished 2nd at the worlds). All this training has set me up nicely for the coming Olympic year, and to finish on a high with a fitness test showing that I am not far off elite athlete standard was a great confidence boost, and something to build on over the five months left before China.
Five Months Left
Back into the UK I had a well earned five days rest, but then I soon headed out to Palma, Majorca for some more cycling and windsurfing. I met up with Development Squad windsurfer, Richard Hamilton and did some good rides before my coach, Dom Tidey turned up having driven two days from the UK towing a coach boat and all our kit! All this preparation is now building up to the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma.
The quality of the fleet in Palma will be very high and I am aiming to get a good result, as opposed to just using it for training. There is quite a big difference in approach to these target events; ensuring I have a good physical build up, focusing on strengths and the positives from the day rather than picking up the weaknesses, a fully professional approach to equipment preparation, as well as good nutrition, hydration and recovery. Dom will also have much more of a supporting role; double checking my kit is all well prepared, helping me pack away so that recovery can begin as soon as possible, and generally keeping me in a happy mood.
Well, wish me good luck and I will let you know how I get on in next month’s column.
Well we will tell you here, as the regatta finished a few days ago, that Bryony finished a well-placed fourth.
Bryony’s new sponsor is SKANDIA. She is also sponsored by UK Sport, Fat Face, Kaenon Sunglasses, North Sails, Fanatic boards & Ion Wetsuits