In this month’s British Sailing Team column Alison Young reflects on her history-making win at the Laser Radial World Championship in Vallarta.
It has not been long since I won the Laser Radial World Championships in Mexico, and I must admit it is still a bit weird to hear ‘World Champion’ and my name in the same breath.
I am still me, I am still going to mess up in racing from time to time like everyone does, but it was just great to win the Worlds and it is a big confidence boost into the rest of the season, with the Rio Olympic Games around three months away now.
My progress prior to the Worlds had been going well, but I was conscious that I had had a string of fourths and fifths heading in to the event, and that does start to grind on you after a while. While there is plenty still to work on between now and the Games, it is great to know that the programme we have put together is heading in the right direction, and it can deliver, but also that we can still make some adjustments over the next few months to improve on that.
FIRST AT VALLARTA
I had never been out to Vallarta before so was not sure what to expect, but conditions-wise we had mid-range stuff of around 8-14 knots with a little bit of chop and not a lot of room on the race course.
As ever with the Radials it was pretty tight racing, but I really enjoy that about the Laser. You can work really hard to find a little speed edge and you know that it is not down to having better equipment or a technological advantage.
It is pure racing, and it comes down to technique and the decisions you make on the race course. Fitness is also really key – I am fairly tall and have got good leverage so being able to get the most out of that when the breeze does come in is a big advantage.
In the end the Worlds win came down to just a single point over USA’s Paige Railey, and I won the last race of the series to secure my World Championship gold, which was a great way to finish.
I had not won a World Championship medal before, let alone a gold one, and to become the first British woman to win a Worlds in a single-handed Olympic dinghy is obviously a huge achievement. It was cool to get the so many messages of support, and from such a variety of people who you would not expect necessarily to be following sailing. That has been really nice.
But of course the Olympics is the big goal for this year and there is still work to do to be successful there. We have got some areas that we are working on in decision-making which we are keen to keep evolving and pushing forwards, and then there are some Rio-specific work on aspects of technique as well as getting a better handle on the venue conditions.
I am also excited that we have a home World Cup in Weymouth & Portland coming up (6-12 June), which will be our final major event before the Games, and a great opportunity for spectators to come and see what elite Olympic classes racing is all about, and get behind the team as we head to Rio.
It is going to be a busy few months and some hard work ahead but I am really motivated for that final push.
Free-of-charge tickets for the Sailing World Cup Weymouth and Portland, to be held at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, are available at https://2016sailingworldcupgb.eventbrite.co.uk
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