Not a lot to say here. I’m super stoked to have a national champion title under my belt, especially after a relatively poor performance at the World Championships only a couple of months ago. I really tried working on my mental game at this event and it was something that probably made the difference in Hayling Island.
When I was younger and less experienced me and my dad used to have this back-and-forth about whether I ‘had the feeling’. Some days if he was out on a rib supporting me or being safety cover I would come up to him before the racing and say: ‘yep, we’re on, I’ve got the feeling’. Those days I would tend to do pretty well in the racing but it’s hard to describe what it really felt like. Almost like a relaxed concentration, fully-focused and aware but also very confident in my own abilities and in the ‘flow state’ as some psychologists have called it. I’m sure everyone has experienced this at some point in their life when you are fully present and ‘in the moment'. It’s not a bad place to be and I hope to replicate it in the future, but figuring out why and how to get into this state of mind is the challenge going forwards.
I didn’t always have ‘the feeling’ throughout this nationals though. When I did it was great, I felt whatever position I was in I could catch back up, whatever situation I found myself in I backed myself to make the best of it. I always felt I could push forwards and gain. It was like an opportunity to test my skills constantly. Even when I was leading I would want to be leading by more - never in a defensive mode. Day 3 was great, we had four races scheduled to catch up on a lost days racing in 15 - 18 knots. I managed to get the first three race wins on this day and after each race it didn’t phase me. I was just fully focused on the next leg of the next race. Process focused! Didn’t quite get a clean sweep on the day as I scored a 6 in the final race of that day but I left myself too much to do after a poor start and first beat. I caught up really well and even though that race was a 6. I’d say I was still in ‘the feeling’ and was sailing freely.
On Day 4, I felt the pressure was on. I’d been leading the event from the get-go but my closest competitor was only just behind and we were nearing the pointy end of the competition. I didn’t have the feeling this day. I was starting to get consumed by the numbers and what I needed to do - when I got ahead I was very conscious of where Finley Dickinson was and I was trying to control his racing to keep him behind me.
This didn’t work as I closed up the gap I had with him and then he managed to split from me and get ahead. Race 2 was similar, slightly behind from the first major shift up the beat and playing catch up. I managed to catch up quite a lot but I could feel myself getting tunnel vision and yes, I managed to get back into 4th which was a great comeback but it didn’t feel like a good race. I was pivoting from process to outcome.
The final day brought thunderstorms and some decent breeze which was dying the whole time we raced. Due to a low discard, I managed to wrap everything up in the penultimate race. This was such a relief and just allowed me to sail nice and free for the final race - back to the feeling. This race was the best race I sailed all week, controlling from start to finish and winning with a considerable gap to second. Funny that, when it was all said and done and didn’t even matter what I got in the last race, I went and sailed my best.
So happy to come away with the win and a reminder that all the hard work is worth it. Back down to Weymouth now for a summer of training. Thanks to all my backers!
Link to the results here