Following two days of practice, it was time for the real competition to start at Auckland's Waitemata Harbour.
In near perfect conditions, the 32 sailors competing in the Red Bull Foiling Generation World Series set out on the first of the round-robin elimination races with the goal a place in the final and a chance to race against the National winners from the other venues around the World.
After a solid start with skipper George Angus we managed to work our way into the lead in Race One and were leading eventual series winners McHardie/McKenzie before a small error at the bottom mark resulted in a capsize and a disappointing 3rd. The wind was fresh and gusty at times, which meant the Flying Phantom boats were often pushed right to the limit leading to some spectacular mishaps and capsizes.
Day Two saw much lighter conditions with a fluky, unstable wind making conditions a bit of a lottery out on the course. It was no longer about strength, fitness and boat handling; crews now depended on getting to the wind first, keeping a good eye out for any sign of extra pressure and a big dose of luck. Our second race once again resulted in a solid start and with a conservative strategy of minimising risks we were able to secure a much-needed win moving us on to the elimination race. It was a tense time as it was our last chance to make the finals. But taking chances is exactly what you need to do in the repechage rounds - if you can’t sail your way to a first or second, you’re out for the tournament.
Disappointingly, Race Three was to prove our worst. Sailing can be incredibly frustrating at times: adrenaline-fuelled highs, when you are able to execute a high speed manoeuvre through the eye of a needle to the devastating lows when it doesn't seem to matter how hard you try, all your decisions seem destined to fail and the wind gods are against you. That’s what Foiling Generation is all about, though, foiling experience and steep learning curves.
So what do I take out of the event? A burning desire to return in two years fitter, stronger and wiser in how to sail these incredible machines. Many of my competitors have raced in this event more than once and have benefited from the experience gained between Championships so rather than be disappointed in our final result, I prefer to look at this experience as another learning opportunity from which I can only get better.
I apologise to you all for the delay in posting this report. Life has certainly been hectic for the past few weeks: arriving in New Zealand, preparing for Red Bull, moving into my new home and starting work at my new job. I will try and do better in the future. Thank you all so much for the many good wishes from home. I couldn't do it without you!
The Volvo Ocean 65's are in town and our team have been asked to help out down at the docks. Another great chance to rub shoulders with the World's best. I look forward to updating you all next week.