I’m really looking forward to spending the next week in Rio, my first ever visit to the 2016 Games host city!
The objective of the trip is to recce the place, check out the tides, winds, get familiar with areas, and make contact with people locally we hope are going to be able to help in the build up to the Games etc. My coach Ian Barker, has been over in Rio for about a week already working with a 49er team, and has made contact with the Brazilian 2.4mR sailors and their coach, so who knows i might even get a sail in!
It’s useful that Ian already has a good lie of the land, having coached John Gimpson in the Star out in Rio for their Worlds a few years ago too. Now I can’t wait to get over there for what will hopefully be the first of many visits to Rio over the next three years!
I spent a great day at WPNSA this week letting the 10-time Para-equestrian gold medalist, Lee Pearson, try 2.4mR sailing. I met Lee at Wimbledon this year and we’ve become good friends. Lee came sailing for the first time with us in Cowes Week this year and he enjoyed it so much he went to his local sailing club back at home.
He has been keen to have a go in my boat since Cowes. Being independent and sailing on his own was really appealing to him. As ever with Lee, we spent the day in fits of laughter, starting with me trying to get him into a dry suit. He insisted on trying mine first, despite me telling him it was definitely too small, and got stuck!
We then had to get him into the boat. With hindsight I should have pulled the sails up first, as once he was in there was no way he was getting out! It resulted in me going head first into the boat, trying to reach the halliards. Thank God Lee’s openly gay and I’m married because I can only imagine how it looked! We were laughing so hard I couldn’t get out and had to be pulled out by my legs.
The wind was perfect, about 6kts for his first sail, and he got the chance to get a real feel for the boat. It didn’t matter if anything went wrong as it was easy for the RIB to come alongside and for me to help him out. He absolutely loved it and definitely wants to do it again; I’ll just make sure the boat’s better set up for him next time. The only thing now is he is determined to get me on one of his horses! I’ve never been on a horse in my life and I’m really not sure. The fact he describes his horses as being like Grand Prix cars, and says they can be very temperamental, is not filling me with enthusiasm! I think I’ve got a really busy calendar coming up…….
We had a great couple of days and it was lovely to catch up. We even found time to check out the new plaque on my gold post box after dinner at the Heights. We had to get the car really close to be able to shine the headlights so we could read what it said. It was the first time I had seen it, the inscription was lovely with the added touch it had been written in braille underneath. I felt rather emotional
It’s been a busy family time too, my Gran turned 100 on the 4th December and we had a friends and family celebartion. Her name’s Joan Meredith and she is absolutely amazing. I just hope I’ve inherited her genes. A really proud moment watching her open her card from the queen.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of going to film ITV’s Surprise Surprise, with RYA Chief Executive, Sarah Treseder, to honour the deaf sailor, Gerry Hughes, who completed a solo circumnavigation of the world this year. I can’t comprehend what he achieved and it was lovely to have been invited to share the moment he was presented with the first RYA Sailability Personal Endeavour Award on the show.
The show was broadcast on Sunday (1 December) and Sarah and her partner had invited us over for dinner to watch it and cringe together on the sofa. Luckily it was short and sweet so not too painful.
After the Rio trip, it will just be a case of keeping things ticking over before heading out to Miami for some serious training and the first event of the season. I’m really ready to fully focus on the 2.4mR again now. It’s exciting times.