Palma-training-sunset_750

Eilidh McIntyre and Sophie Weguelin

3/4/2014

Eilidh-with-Harken-box_200February through March has been a tricky period for Team 3,2,1. We have had to face challenges that we hadn't considered appearing on the radar. Arriving back from Miami in early February we knew we had a hill to climb to ensure that our boat was ready for training in Palma the following week. The team at Harken were extremely helpful when it came to fitting the boat out, and it gives us great confidence to know that we are using efficient and reliable hardware on the boat. Thanks Team!

The boat arrived in Palma on 8th February, and we flew in to meet it and get rigged up for Training Camp number 1. We love going back to Palma, Mallorca it's a fantastic training venue where we can get anything from a light fickle sea breeze with the sea as flat as a pancake, to a 25 knot south westerly with waves almost mast height, or anything in-between. We base ourselves out of the Club Nautic Arenal in S'Arenal, which is about 15 minutes from the airport with a supermarket, gym and plenty of reasonably priced accommodation close by.

Having been back for so many years, it really feels like a second home there! We had 3 training camps through February and March, each lasting between 5 and 10 days, which allows us enough time to settle in, get into a routine and make the camp as productive as possible. After the camp we would return to the UK for a few days again allowing us to get into a routine and stay on top of our planning, organisation (collecting new sails for the regatta), fitness training and home lives - checking in with the family, friends and dentist appointments. We then planned to return to Palma for the Princess Sofia Regatta, the second World Cup event of 2014 that is taking place 30th March - 5th April.

Camp 1 was the official launch of the new boat and she was great! The first sail felt fantastic, it was a light wind day of 4-8 knots and the sun was glistening on the choppy water - inevitably when we came ashore we had a few control lines and fittings which needed shortening and changing around, but all in all we were very happy with the new vessel!

On day 3 the wind had come in, and it was our first chance to test her in a breeze. She held up well, she was fast through the water and it was actually us that were a little rusty in the giant swell! On the final downwind of the day our nose submerged and we did quite a spectacular pitch pole into the water!! Unfortunately for us, whilst the boat was turtled (completely upside down) and we were trying to right her, she was being thrown around in the swell - it felt like we were in the washing machine on an aggressive spin, and unfortunately the mast snapped. It was quite a long procedure to secure the boat and the kit before we could get it ashore, but luckily damage was minimal - a snapped mast, a ripped spinnaker and some training sails relegated to spare training sails. A shock but not the end of the world, we were both fine - after a hot shower - and rigged up a new mast for sailing the following day.

Camp 2 took place between 25th February and 2nd April. After 2 great days of training, day 3 doomed on us again! It was another big day - breeze was 18-20 knots and she sea state was on the large side - not another broken mast I hear you say... No. Let me set the scene a little better, the breeze was set to increase so we have met and launched earlier in the morning to ensure that we can get a session in the fresh but not frightening breeze and the mega waves. Port tack gave us a side swell, meaning a lot of centreboard up, Cunningham on and sheets eased. Starboard tack saw us sailing head on into the waves, up the face of them into a gust at their peak, and then slamming down the back. This requires a fair amount of steering to hold up on the wind, alongside this Eilidh takes a big step forward at the peak of the wave to push the bow down, keep the grip on the centreboard and help keep the bow in the water.

This time on an upwind tuning leg on Starboard tack Eilidh's legs were knocked off the side of the boat as we were going up the face of a wave. From here we are not 100% sure what happened, but she ended up on the side of the boat sat next to me. The legend found her feet again, and was straight back out on the wire. Clearly in a little bit of discomfort she came rushing back in from the wire with her finger in the air. She had landed on the tip of her index finger and it was in a bad way. The sails were dropped and she was taken ashore in the rib, and straight to hospital. After a small operation, and a large amount of pain she was patched back together and returned to the UK for some TLC and to see a hand specialist. It was confirmed a few days later that she had broken the tip of her finger. She had an operation to help it heal in place, and is unable to sail for 4-6 weeks. We owe a huge thank you to the coaches, sailors and support staff that made sure that she received the care she needed as quickly as possible. A premature end to the training camp left me with an opportunity to sail with Stu Bithell for a day in the big breeze, having the extra weight on the wire gave the boat a completely different feel, and a day riding in the mountains of Palma with the Finn boys before catching the evening flight back to the UK… or the early morning flight! The Sunday evening 21.15 flight from Palma was delayed 6 hours resulting in a 03.15 boarding time and a drive home in Monday morning rush hour traffic and jet lag from a flight in Europe!

With Eilidh now in the caring hands of the sailing team support staff she was booked in to see a hand specialist in the UK who the concluded that inserting a wire in her finger to help it heal was the best option. She is now referred to as Eilidh hook finger, and will be extremely useful when we are replacing the halyards in our new mast! Since the boat was already in Palma and the flights and accommodation booked I was presented with a fantastic opportunity to sail Training Camp 3 and the Arenal Training regatta with Joe Glanfied - a newly retired sailor and newly appointed coach! The 3-day regatta was tough; all mistakes were punished as the fleet was so tight and compact. It was a huge eye opener that has highlighted plenty of areas that we can make gains in the women's fleet.

Returning to the UK to a recovering Eilidh and a Miami container to unload we have plenty to keep us busy - planning the remainder of the season, organising the fundraising dinner and making progress in our storage container ensuring we have the correct spares, tools and consumables for the season.  Eilidh has taken receipt of her new Volvo, a black V60. We owe a huge THANK YOU to Volvo who keep us safe on the roads around the UK and Europe. We have also presented with a fantastic opportunity to put in a solid 4-week fitness training block to ensure that we are in tip top shape when we are back on the water with the help and support of the Team S&C coach and physiotherapist to assist us and keep us on track. We have also received a snazzy new over cover for our new boat thanks to Chris Gould at Creation Covers. This is going to keep our boat dry, clean looking good in the boat park, thanks Chris!

Although our set back will see us miss the next World Cup event in Palma it is not a disaster. It will be very different and probably very difficult to see the results of the Princess Sofia Regatta come in knowing that we are not there to test ourselves against the fleet, but it will give us a different perspective and has allowed us to build on our fitness for the upcoming season. Eilidh will have the wire removed from her finger on the 17th of April. We have put all of our plans in place to compete at the final World Cup event in Hyeres at the end of April, however we will review it closer to the event depending upon Eilidh's recovery. Our priority is to keep Team 3,2,1 fit and healthy, 2014 is a long season and we are hungry for it! We are keeping the end in mind, the Road to Rio is a long one and this is just a small bump in the road along the way.

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