A New Year through Ben's eyes

11 January 2016

As 2016 is now well underway it seems a fun time to check in on what’s been happening and where we are heading….

2015 ended successfully for us – that’s my sailing partner Nicola Groves and me. In late September we won the Nacra 17 European Championships in Barcelona, Spain, which was followed by a training camp in Rio de Janeiro Brazil. Our trip to Rio finished off with the Copa de Brasil Regatta just before Christmas where we continued our good form to collect a Bronze Medal.

The Copa de Brasil was the last major event organised in the 2016 Olympic venue before the Olympics themselves – only seven months before the start of the Olympic Games 2016. Yeah – the Olympics are coming around again…four years have passed since London, even if it doesn’t feel like it!

Nic and I are currently fighting for selection for the Olympics for Team GB.  Only one team can go per country for each class of boat and our recent form has been a great show of strength by us, but more importantly it shows that we are moving in the right direction. Furthermore, we are not about to relax and take it easy now – we have to push on and solidify our position. The overall goal is Olympic Gold, not just selection to represent GBR. In the very simplest of terms we need to make sure those French and Australian teams that beat us in Rio in December 2015 do not beat us again in August 2016…..but there’ll be a lot of water flowing under our hulls between now and then!

So how will we make these gains over the next seven months? It’s basically quite simple… work hard, train hard, and focus on the little details. On 2nd January we flew out to Florida where we are currently training. Soon we have two regattas out here – at the end of January we have Miami World Cup Regatta, and then in mid February we have our World Championships in Clearwater. After that, it’ll be back for more training and events in Europe in the build-up to the Olympics.

Whilst all that’s going on, we’ve already started 2016 with a success! The results of the 2016 Yachts & Yachting awards (voted for by the public) have just been announced and my good friend Toby Lewis and I won the ‘Racing Performance of the Year’ award for our performance at the 2015 Endeavour Trophy. This event is a ‘champion of champions’ regatta for current UK dinghy national champions.  We were representing the Merlin Rocket class, as I had won the 2015 National Championships sailing with George Yeoman.  There were eight races on one weekend in October – and Toby and I won all eight of them! Nice!

I’ve been on the shortlist for this award once before but it’s my first win. The award runner-up was Ben Ainslie’s BAR America’s Cup Team which is an awesome feeling and a great honour – he is pretty much the biggest name in the sailing world!! Like many, I follow the developments of the Americas Cup teams with great interest and hope BAR have a great 2016.

Maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to be part of a team like that, but not this year – hopefully this year is all about Rio!

Thanks to all our sponsors and supporters for helping us so far – including UK Sport, Volvo UK, Harken, English Braids, Payne Hicks Beach, CKLG and Xero, plus the members of Royal Thames Yacht Club and Itchenor Sailing Club.

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