With a cracked hull but determined spirits, the all-girl South African Olympic Qualifiers in the Yngling Sailing Class Team Isigungu finish off their European Women’s Yngling Championships in Germany. Here’s skipper Dominique Provoyeur:
After the races on Tuesday, none of us felt really good about our day, we sailed poorly and there was nothing much else to say. The debrief was short…. "I’ll see you in the gym, I need time".
Well, time heals, and we all cheered up in time to enjoy the championship dinner and celebrate Kim’s Birthday. We had a wonderful evening as Wednesday was a rest day and no racing.
We had a Champagne breakfast, and spent the day on email and in the gym, and had a quiet little glass of red with the Canadians, before heading home for dinner.
Thursdays racing was our last chance to get back into the top 10 for the medal race and after race one we were on course. The breeze was up to about 18knots, the most we have had the whole regatta, we sailed well to finish sixth.
Dayne ran out of time between races, and couldn’t give us the points difference between us and the other challenges, not that this should have made any difference, but might have just put the thought back in the forefront of our minds.
I for one never really thought of the boats we needed to beat – I just wanted a good result, if we had that, I thought it would all work out.
Just as it happens, we had one round to go and we were looking just fine for the result we wanted.
On the last bottom mark, we lost the spinnaker sheet over the bow and while trying to fix it we all lost focus on the race and with a lot of shouting and frustration we eventually only managed to get it right going downwind after the top mark, loosing 5 boats and the medal race.
Big lesson learnt:
Stay between your competitors and the top mark, and never loose track of your goal.
Leave the sheet in the boat until downwind, if conditions don’t allow a quick fix (or around the forestay where it belongs).
Another reason we may have been a little tense/preoccupied, is that at the start, we managed to find ourselves right in the middle of the German Match Race again, and while the one crew was watching the other boat, she didn’t see us on our approach to the line on Starboard and just sailed right into us, hitting our boat about 1 meter from the front.
We couldn’t see any hole through the hull, so we continued with the race. Luckily it didn’t take on any water, but it was cracked on the join between the deck and hull, but mostly cosmetic.
We were supposed to catch a ferry to Denmark today and drive up to Sweden to put the boat on a ship headed for Miami, but now with this damage we need to have it repaired first, and as today is Friday the builder needed the boat immediately to repair it in time. So no sailing for us today.
This is a bit of a disappointing way to end our season in Europe, but by no way puts a damper on what we have achieved and learnt over the last 9 months.
We have all grown in ourselves through tough days, pushed ourselves harder that we ever imagined. A special friend of ours wrote in an email not so long ago that she couldn’t wait to see us again, as she believed that we wouldn’t be the same 3 that left all those months ago, with all the experiences that we have had.
I have no doubt that she is right, and even though we all have our moments, we have lived through this experience and are left with only good memories, funny stories and life experiences that will compare to nothing else we do for the rest of our lives.
Even though we are by no means finished, this year was a turning point in our ultimate goal of a medal at the Olympics. A really tough challenge and sometimes I think too tough, but If you don’t dream….
From here, we will leave on Saturday for Sweden to drop the boat off in Gothenburg before heading back to Calais for the last time this year. We will miss our family here, but they will all be in SA to visit us in December!
Kim and Penny will arrive home on the 6th October and JJ and I will be home on the 10th, after going to Spain for a week to watch JJ sail his laser in the Grand Masters World Championships!
We will try to keep in touch as often as possible, but the next month will be rather busy as we will be arranging our annual golf day (28 October at Devonvale) as well as catching up with sponsors, South African Sailing and our Olympic Committee.
On the 29th October we will head off to Miami for 2 weeks training with the Norwegian Team and then dart off to the Rolex Woman’s Keelboat Champs in Texas on J22’s. Our 4th will be Lara Dugas, who now lives in Chicago, USA. We will be home for the J22 Worlds in December, before we begin training on the Yngling again in January 2008.
Thank you to all of you for your continued support, your belief and trust in our abilities have been a huge motivation to all of us.
Signing out for the final time from Europe for 2007.