Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth
ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY
Well it was definitely quite an eventful start to the year with Miami OCR starting it off with a bit too much drama.
Firstly, before the event we had an accommodation nightmare. For every location we race and train at we have to organize transport for our boats and ourselves, as well as somewhere to stay. Normally it all goes swimmingly with the odd little problem to resolve as we go.
However, this year we felt like we starred in an American movie. To start with we got scammed, the accommodation we had booked and paid for didn’t actually exist, slightly annoying but we could deal with that. We stayed somewhere temporary until we sorted somewhere permanent for our three week stay. On the first night of staying in what we thought was our permanent accommodation we were rudely awakened at 6am by 6 undercover police officers surrounding the house, banging on and shining lights through the windows. In our sleepy state we manage to convince 49er sailor Alain Sign to go to the door. Whilst this was going on we called the local police to ask if they had sent them, and they said there were no cops in the area… queue mild panic from us all.
Turns out they were looking for a drug trafficker that was there the day before. Only in Miami vice is this supposed to happen. Once they had checked the house for hidden people and checked our passports we were given the all clear. They were suspicious of our healthspan tablets though, until we explained they were vitamins not drugs. Charlotte asked the police officer 'do we need to move', he responded 'no, you just need to lock up and check your surroundings when you leave the house.' Charlotte 'will we get shot?', police officer 'people get shot here everyday... It is hot for crime.' Turns out the area we were in had the highest homicide rate in Miami. It’s safe to say we won’t be returning there.
As for the sailing, we like eighty percent of the fleet didn’t make it around the course in the first race! It was a condition we had never sailed in before and we couldn’t get through the chop without capsizing downwind, we both injured ourselves, which made the rest of the event even more exciting than it already was. It was annoying as we spent a lot of the winter doing windy boat handling, but you can’t be too frustrated if you haven’t ever had those conditions before. Our results were more turbulent than we would have liked, we had a pretty dreadful last day, which saw us lose the blue jersey and plummet to 10th overall with sadly not a lot of potential for the medal race. We were very disappointed but we knew where we slipped up and we were firing to get it sorted in the next training block.
We spent February and March in Cagliari, Italy. Your immediate thought is probably much like ours, lucky them going to Sardinia where it is bound to be warm and sunny. Oh how wrong we all were, our warm weather training felt much like our Autumn/winter training in Weymouth in December. In fact it actually rained less in Weymouth, we were hit with muri d’acqua (walls of rain) in Italy. We were training with our fellow competitors the ITA 49erFX team Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapich. It was great training, we really pushed each other and we got truly pushed by the elements; sailing in the biggest waves and windiest conditions we’ve managed to keep sailing and upright in. This was a big step for us. We only had one catastrophe, which was the exit of a gybe, that went wrong very, very, very slowly, it ended up with Charlotte landing on Sophie’s head that was mid hitting the wing of the boat. To clarify, that is a very hard part of the boat covered in grip to be as lethal as possible. One trip to a&e, three eyebrow stitches, one ambulance ride, and one fractured nose later everything was fine.
After our training block we packed up our boat and sent it on it’s way to Palma, Mallorca for the Princesca Sofia Regatta, where we met it a few days later. We competed in this regatta without a coach. It added another dimension to the event for us, doing this regatta completely on our own. We finished 7th overall but we much like many of our other events, we were not far off medalling. It’s good to know we can get that far on our own and for us to have used the regatta to warm up for the racing season. We know exactly what we need to do to medal at the next World Cup event in Hyeres. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is our gold medal winning campaign but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be just as brilliant!
Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth