Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth. The Year of the Monkey
We made it; the Year of the Rat is over! For those of you that follow the Chinese lunisolar Calendar you’ll know that at the beginning of February we had excuse to eat spring rolls and celebrate the year of the Monkey. It was around that time last year we have a few hurdles thrown at us that we had to overcome, but we’ve made it through it all together and now we have reached the incredibly exciting time of the Olympic cycle. It’s Games year!
We’ve just finished our World Championships in Clearwater, Florida. Your immediate thought of Florida is warm sunshine, but no, this was absolutely not the case. It was mostly grey and cold at 12 degrees Celsius – it was not the Florida we had envisaged. It’s a tricky venue because it’s so shallow - the sea state quickly becomes too hard for our boat to handle, add in the seaweed hiding beneath the surface and you get very challenging racing. We almost capsized upwind in the first race of qualifying because we hit hidden seaweed and stopped so suddenly - I still had enough momentum to fly forwards to the front of the boat, something extremely rare in 49er sailing (but it could be something we experience in Rio!).
Throughout the week we had a mixture of conditions, big waves and wind, along with smaller chop and lighter conditions, the whole range, which made for some exciting racing. We finished the week in tenth, despite lying in second with only a day and a half to go. To sum up how we feel: recently a follower told us we had a lot of work to do if we wanted to achieve Gold in Rio. In simple terms, yes we do, but as always it’s a bit more complicated and it's a useful skill to be able to take a step back and assess where we are at.
We finished top ten in an Olympic class Worlds, where we know we didn’t sail our best. We know we made mistakes but we also had moments of brilliance: Charlotte managed to gybe in 18 knots (windy) and wavy conditions with a forest of weed attached to the rudder – believe me this takes skill if you don’t want to go swimming. It wasn’t until the last race of finals that our mistakes accumulated and dropped us out of medal contention, this time last year we didn’t feel as close to being on that podium as we do now. It’s probably why we feel so bitterly disappointed now after our trip to Florida, but I genuinely believe this will make us stronger. Three months ago we finished four points off a medal – nobody can be more frustrated by that than us. We’ve got six months to seize this opportunity, ultimately it is up to us as a team to firstly get selected for the games and secondly perform at the games. We are here to fight for what we truly believe can be ours.
We would like to thank all our sponsors, friends, families and followers for all their support along our journey. Draper tools, Allen, Payne Hicks Beach, Volvo sailing, we appreciate every one of you and look forward to showing you what we can do.