Bronze At The Rio Paralympic Games

Bronze At The Rio Paralympic Games

I have many mixed emotions when I look back at the week of racing in Rio. I got off to a great start and managed to wear the first place yellow bib for five out of the six days of racing.  I found myself going into the last race still wearing it, although only one point ahead of Damien.  So to finish 3rd on the podium initially was a real disappointment.  To have my last memory of the Paralympic Games of that awful last race, having towed a plastic bag round the course, is one I am desperately trying to replace with the memory of feeling so proud standing on the podium with two amazing sailors.  Matt put in an outstanding performance and to win the last race after what I can imagine must have been an emotional & stressful evening and morning to take Silver shows true strength of character.  Damien showed amazing consistency all week in tricky conditions keeping clear of any trouble to come through and claim Gold in the last race.  A true Paralympic champion!

Waiting together to go up on the podium to receive our medals, my disappointment soon ebbed away, as we discussed the week, the tricky conditions and the pride and respect we had for each other.  The fact that this was our last Paralympic Games made the moment even more poignant.

With all the rush of media commitments and the medal ceremony I realised I had not seen or spoken to my coach Ian Barker since I had jumped out of the RIB in rather an emotional state!  Our reunion after the medal ceremony was far from unemotional, but over lunch the next day we reflected on what we had achieved together, Gold in London and Bronze in Rio.  Yes we would have loved another Gold medal and together with my husband Steve and the support team at the RYA, we had put in a lot of hard work, but so had my fellow competitors.  We should be proud of what we achieved!

So I would like to say thank you to Billy Barker “Super Coach”, for an amazing 6 years of Coaching, sail making and friendship.

Steve, my husband, for 20 years of continual love & support, advice, and his technical input

The support team at the RYA, past and present, in particular Ben Chell, Emilie Thienot, Linton Jenkins and Steve Mellors

My word Cloud Supporters, Volvo, North sails, Superspars and Harken.

Finally the 2.4mR fleet for amazing times, awesome racing and great friendship.  I am really going to miss the circuit.

 

Princess Sofia Regatta

Princess Sofia Regatta

I have spent most of the last month in Palma! No complaints its a beautiful city with some amazing cycling in the mountains and of course great sailing conditions!   The first couple of weeks I spent training with Bjornar from Norway and Will from GB.  Once again RCNP have been the perfect hosts and made us feel so welcome.  We had a really productive time on the water, with some great tuning sessions and finishing up with some racing.

Bjornar flew home for a week before the start of the regatta. However I decided to stay and Steve (my husband) flew out to have a holiday.   Every morning I would go for a bike ride in the mountains enjoying the stunning scenery and then we would go and explore Palma.

After a few days off I was ready to start focussing on the regatta. Ian my coach is in big demand and  I have to share his time with the Irish 49er team.  He always coaches them in Palma so the last two years Steve has stepped in to support me on the water and it was the same this year.

Steve and I have a good track record at this regatta, winning the last 2 he has supported me at so we were really keen to make it 3 in a row! However we had tougher competition this year with the top 7 in the world present!

I had great start and was leading after the first day. The second day also started well in 20knot breeze and big seas, I secured a 2nd in the first race. The second race was looking good until I fell off a massive wave and broke the jib Cunningham! That was the end of racing for the day for me! The third day was completely wacky and there was no racing, which left me lying second but equal points with Heiko in first going in to the last day.  Unfortunately I had a rather rubbish day and dropped to 3rd allowing Damien to beat me by one point!  I must admit I was rather disappointed by the result, but some good lessons to be learnt from regatta.

So I’m home for a week before going back to Palma for a week’s training and then driving on to Hyeres for the next World Cup regatta starting on the 25th April.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miami World Cup

Miami World Cup

Its been a good start to 2016 winning Miami World Cup. It was a smaller fleet than usual closed off to Paralympic sailors only, which was a shame as we often see over 20 boats competing. However the racing was great in a variety of conditions! However it was not the weather we have become accustomed to from the Sunshine state, felt more like being back at home! Torrential rain, 20 knots, it kept things entertaining. Anyway great to win 7 out of 10 races, could have been 8 if I hadn’t lost my forestay in the first race!
Its now back to a cold February in Weymouth before heading off to Palma in March. However its nice to be home at least I get to spend some time with my husband and catch up with the rest of the family, before things get really ramped up!

2015 UPDATE

So far 2015 has been a good year! Winning Princess Sophia regatta in April and sealing selection for Rio 2016 was an amazing feeling, especially as I was the first British Athlete to be selected for either the Paralympics or Olympics. The press release on the Cutty Sark after Hyeres World Cup was brilliant made even more special as it was my Birthday.
Since selection our focus has been on development with the aim of having all projects completed by November and it looks like we are on track!
The other focus has been time in Rio and getting familiar with the venue. We had a good training camp in September and are planning another in January.
So now my focus is firmly on the 2015 Para World Sailing Championships in Melbourne, starting on the 28th November. A great opportunity to test some of the new kit, but not all! We have to keep some of our powder dry!
Then its 2016, Olympic and Paralympic year and a busy programme. Staring off in January with another trip to Rio followed by the Miami World Cup, (good excuse to escape the weather back here). Then a full programme from March onwards with training in Palma followed by Princess Sophia, Hyeres World Cup, Garda, The World Championships in Medemblik, Weymouth World Cup, Kiel week and another trip to Rio in July! August will be spent watching the Olympics and supporting team GB and training in the Solent before heading out to Rio on the 28th August for the real thing! The Paralympic Games!

2.4mR World Championships 2015

It’s been a busy period with lots of different projects going on so it was great to go out to Finland for the 2.4mR Worlds and go racing! Unfortunately Ian my coach could not be with me as he was in Rio coaching at the test event, but it did mean that Steve my husband could come and support me both on and off the water

It was an amazing fleet of 104 boats, biggest fleet I think I have ever raced in, certainly with everyone all on the same start line!

I love the the 2.4mR Worlds as it’s when everyone comes together to race each other, able bodied, disabled, young and the more mature, female and male. It’s when the 2.4mR shows what a brilliant class of boat it is that we can all compete on an even playing field. This year saw an amazing fleet of 104 boats, biggest fleet I think I have ever raced in, certainly with everyone all on the same start line!

It was really tricky racing with some long days on the water. The race committee had a choice of two race courses, the better and bigger one being at least an hour sail or more from the club, so they opted for the smaller closer one, which made for some compact starts and first beats.

My results were rather mixed posting four 2nds and a 5th, but then having some rather poor results in the early twenties when I got caught up on the start line with other boats and struggled to pull through the fleet on such a small course. With such a big fleet and tight racing the start was everything as there were no clear lanes if you got it wrong.

Going into the last race I still had a chance to get onto the podium, only 4 points off Heiko in 3rd, but it was a whacky first beat with the wind dying and not helped by Heiko having a great last race and finishing 2nd.

So I ended up 5th overall, certainly not a bad result, but I always like to be be on the podium.
Stellan Berlin once again demonstrated his dominance in the class convincingly winning another World Championships, I have lost count how many he has now won!

The great thing was there were 6 Paralympic sailors in the top 10! With Bjørnar from Norway having an amazing consistent regatta to finish 2nd and Heiko from Germany 3rd. The next Paralympic sailor being myself in 5th.

So I have had a week at home sorting out dead pigeons and maggots in the loft and generally getting back on top of things and before heading out to Rio in September for training. Before I go though, I am taking part in part of the Deloitte ride with Selwyn Cooper from Volvo. It’s a ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats, we are doing the stage from Okehampton to Bath, just a mere 110 miles with 6,532 ft of climbing. Should keep me quite on the flight to Rio!

Best Wishes

Helena

Sent from my iPad

GOLD PRINCESS SOFIA EUROCUP

GOLD PRINCESS SOFIA EUROCUP

It’s always nice to be standing on the top step of the podium, and even more so after a tough tight regatta.

I went out early to Palma at the beginning of March to train with the Norwegian 2.4mR sailor Bjornar Erikstad. Will Street from GB also joined in and we had a productive two weeks of some great training. I came home for 5 days before heading back out with my Husband Steve for the regatta. Ian Barker my coach was coaching the Irish 49er team at this event, so Steve had kindly stepped in, to offer on the water support and help with any sail changes I needed to make. It was great having him there, especially in the evening’s when we could discuss the day over a glass of wine and dinner.

The regatta was run over 4 days, 8 races with one discard. There were only really 3 of us in the running for the podium spots, myself, Megan Pascoe GB and Bjornar. Will Street had a great regatta topped off with a race win, which he was delighted with.

Bjornar had a great start to the regatta posting two firsts on the score board, I had a solid start with 2nd and 3rd. The second day I had a frustrating first race, after taking the lead, I then had an issue getting the jib pole away at the bottom mark. I dropped to 3rd, but caught up for the same thing to happen again! As always it was fine after the race! It was Meg’s turn to post two firsts on the score board that day, but the points between the three of us were very tight.

The third day was my day and with the other two finishing out of the top 3 in a couple of races, I was tied for first place with Meg, with Bjornar only a point behind going in to the final day and the last two races. After a good tussle I came out on top to win the regatta. I was really pleased with how I sailed, never a result out of the top 3 and the consistency paid off.

It’s just a week at home before heading off to Hyeres for the second World cup of the season.