Once the regatta in Italy was over there was no time for a rest. I was straight back on the bike and in the gym rebuilding my fitness and losing some weight in the lead up to the final regatta of my journey, the Open European Championships. After a good week of training the team made the road trip down to Croatia, some catching the ferry from Italy into Split, while Mitch, Jeremy and I made the trip through Slovenia. The journey was our last together but probably the smoothest as we had become very efficient at travelling together.
Once on site in Split we found our apartment and settled into a routine of sailing and cycling as we got used to the different conditions that the Adriatic coast brought us. After a week of settling in a small training regatta was organized consisting of some of the best Laser sailors in the world and over 5 days we raced as practice for the European Championships. We lost two of the days to no wind and the racing that we had was tricky but I took a lot away from the regatta and it gave me some expectations for what the main event would be like. On the final night of the event the top 9 sailors raced off in a night race in the mariner with the winner walking away with 500 euro. It was great racing and heaps of fun to watch with some of my friends competing in the racing.
After the fun it was now down to business. We had a couple more days of training and fine tuning before the championship begun and we did our best to make the most of it. Although with a sport where you are weather dependent there are a few factors you can’t control and one of those is the wind. When racing begun we got some very tricky and fickle qualifying races in but each day seemed to be getting longer and longer as the committee tried to get the racing away. Unfortunately I just didn’t have the speed I needed to hang in with the top guys and my performance suffered. For the first time this season I placed in the silver fleet. That was a hard pill to swallow but in the end it seems I didn’t really miss out on anything. The wind gods saw fit to make the water glassy for the final three days of the regatta with only the gold fleet getting one race away. A bit of an anticlimax to the trip but considering how good we had had it for the majority of the journey I wasn’t going to complain.
I stayed in Split for one more day before catching the ferry out of Split, heading towards Italy with fellow Western Australian Matt Wearn. We had been given the mission to drive the team car and trailer up to Germany while Mark Spearman and Ben Walkemeyer took my van and boats off to Kiel for their regattas. Matt and I got to Germany two days later before I caught the train to Amsterdam and came home.
In all the 100 days I spent in Europe changed my view on sailing and gave me some very good friends that I’m sure I’ll know for the rest of my life. Now I’m preparing for my next journey so there’s no time to stop. A camp in Sydney soon followed by two weeks in Japan coaching the Australian 4.7 Worlds team, and finally returning to Europe for the ISAF Sailing World Championships. I just want to say a massive thank you to Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club for their ongoing support of my Olympic campaign, without it my dream would be impossible.