Silver Cup - BFA Juniors reflect
Hector Simpson (GBR96) reports on his first Silver Cup.
After moving up into the Finn 9 months ago, this was my first solely Junior event. It was a different experience to the Junior Europeans a couple of months ago when racing was combined with the seniors. This time the fleet was slightly smaller, but by no means low quality with a high number of juniors being full-time and putting in top results at the the senior events. This years silver cup was the first independent Junior worlds to be run on the sea and with Valencia being chosen to host the event, secured the biggest( I think) and probably most competitive entry ever. Valencia is the home of the dinghy academy where most of the foreign sailors spend their time training and as such secured entries from multiple continents.
Before the event, the class ran a rule 42(pumping) clinic for a couple of days where sailors got the chance to get one on one coaching from international jurors so that everyone can understand this subjective rule better. Unfortunately as the details this clinic was released so late, I was unable to rearrange my travel arrangements to get there early enough to take part. Nonetheless there was a summary produced, which I believe the class will be posting online soon. However, the clinic didn’t seem to stop yellow flags being given out left, right and centre as everyone was striving for that extra inch. Perhaps this was due to relative abundance of jurors compared to the size of the fleet. Whilst I, nor the rest of the fleet appreciated the extra attention, it did give us all a chance to have our techniques scrutinised more. The class managed to secure a top quality race officer who was PRO for the Lasers at the London Games, who always ensured fair racing. Food and refreshments were given out every evening after sailing, which provided a nice setting in which to discuss the days racing.
After multiple breakages and personally feeling that I had sailed badly, I finished 11th overall. I was quite disappointed with this given that I had finished 5th at the Junior Europeans and 32nd in the open championship. Thankfully I still have 2 more years competing as a junior where I hope to win the gold medal. However despite my performance not being as good as I’d hoped, it is impossible not to enjoy such high quality racing in lovely Mediterranean conditions. I would highly encourage any other juniors whatever ability to come, as they are sure to have a good time.
Cameron Tweedle (GBR 98) shares his experiences of the Silver Cup:
Finn Silver Cup 2015
To be honest, the idea of going to the Silver Cup in Valencia only came about after the Finn Class write-up of the Hayling Island Ranker event last October, and thanks to the support of my sponsor Maylarch Environmental, we could just about afford to do it.
My parents decided that the best. We opted to camp in the VW, with a single night in the car park of the Real Club Nautico de Valencia before finding a lovely campsite 4km south of the City, coincidentally at the beach exactly where the race area was.
First impressions at the Base de Regatta were that all the other competitors seemed so much older than me and that the majority were full time sailors. At this point my parents went into "expectation management mode" as we realised that in all likelihood I'd be plum last, but I was determined to make the most of this fantastic opportunity to learn as much as could from my first International Regatta.
The first learning point I'd make to anyone thinking of doing this kind of event is prior preparation, regarding measurement. Both Dad and I were really nervous about the process but in hindsight there's no big secrets, and other than the technical weighing and spinning, pretty well everything is explained sufficiently in the Class Rules to allow you to make sure all is well with the boat in advance of the event.
On the morning of the first race day I was seriously apprehensive but filled with excitement for what was to come. Dad helped me launch and with only 30 boats in the fleet it was a fairly relaxed process. It certainly helped being part of a GB Team and the bonding and support that Hector, Jack and I had, made things far more mentally manageable than they could have been.
Race 1 saw me finish the first lap in 13th before dropping to 26th by the finish. I was so disappointed by this, especially as I felt I'd sailed better in this than Race 2, where I scored 22nd! The big lesson from Day 1 for me was to not hold on too tight to the inevitable disappointments; thankfully I switched on quickly to this and Dad and I developed a system where he'd help me debrief myself whilst we put the boat to bed, before leaving the sailing compound and going to the pool to meet up with Mum and my girlfriend Becca to relax and unwind.
Most of the races were sailed in the 11-14kt wind range, and it was obvious from early on that I was having to work really hard to keep the boat going at 10/10ths. I certainly felt the lack of physical training I'd done in the last few months whilst doing my GCSEs, and it was only in the last 2 days of the event that I felt I did myself justice with my results, despite being happy with the way I sailed throughout. As the wind became just a tiny bit lighter, I posted a confidence boosting 11th place, and followed this the next day with a 7th!
As we went in to the final race I knew that I'd made up 14 points of a 15 point gap to Oisin McClelland who was in 23rd place overall, so had to beat him in the last race to take the place....At the end of the first lap I was in 3rd and Oisin in 6th, but it was "big decision time" for me as he headed to the right hand side of the beat, whereas I thought the left was favoured. I opted to go with him and this paid off all the way round to the final mark with me just ahead until another competitor came in fast claiming an overlap (dubious in my mind, but aren't they all?) - the resulting manoeuvres allowed Oisin to slip past and end up taking 18th and 22nd Overall, and me the 19th, 2 points behind in 24th.
It was a bit of a shame to finish the Regatta like that, but it's all part of the learning process. I've now raced against some of the very best in the world and indeed some that will be at the Olympics next year, and know that I've shown flashes of potential, being up at the pointed end of the fleet at times. Valencia, both as a sailing venue and a City is magnificent, and provided ample opportunity for the Tweedle family "support crew" to enjoy their time there also; Dad even managed to go sailing a D-Zero with coach Luca Devoti for a few hours!
So what next? Well we're going straight in to the UK Nationals, followed immediately by the French Nats, so I guess this is giving me a quick snapshot of what life would be like as a pro-sailor... and I'm loving it! If I can continue to gain experience and put those lessons into practice then perhaps I can replicate my better results more consistently. There's certainly no rush as I've got another 6 years of being eligible for this event, and the physical side of my racing will come naturally in time, hopefully avoiding the injuries that can come with over-training at my age.
Aside from the racing, I loved the team spirit that we developed in the GB camp, and the respect and camaraderie shown between all the contenders.
Would I recommend the Silver Cup event to other young Finn sailors? Absolutely, but take it for what it is - one of the toughest competitions in world sailing, but an opportunity to learn so, so much.
With thanks to sponsors Maylarch Environmental, without whom I'd never have had this experience.
2015 Calendar update
The RYA has changed the dates of the Autumn Ranker Series - see the updated Calendar here: