Mixing it up in 2016

Campaign Update: Andrew McKenzie

After a short break over Christmas and New Year to spend time with family and friends, I was back in the boat early January to prepare for the NZ National Championships.

Held in Wellington in mid-January, the event turned out to be a bit of a hike off with 4 days of strong Northerly winds. Unfortunately day one was blown out, so we had 10 races over 3 days with the first two days having four races each, all in around 20-25knots. At the end of day one I was questioning whether I had ever been so physically exhausted before. I managed to pull myself back together for the last two days, winning every race to take out my first Senior National Title! I’m very happy with this outcome and am looking forward to trying to defend my title next year.

Results can be found here:

http://www.nzlaser.org/content/2016-woodridge-homes-nz-national-laser-champs-results

Following the Nationals I had a weeks training back home in Auckland before heading up to the Bay of Islands for a few days sailing with Team Marwin, a GC32 team doing crew trials for the upcoming GC32 Tour. It was awesome to do a completely different type of sailing and to have my first experiences on a foiling cat! Reaching a top speed of 37.3 knots it was insanely fun and hopefully I get an opportunity to do more some time in the near future.

At the end of those few days it was straight back home and on the plane to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to build up for the European Laser Championships. My whirlwind week continued as it was straight off the plane and into a 3 day Europa Cup Regatta at the European Championships venue. I wanted to use this regatta to get some good starting and general racing practice as a precursor to my European season. The overall result of the regatta was quite good considering the circumstances, finishing in 14th position. Afterwards its safe to say that I will never do a regatta straight off the plane again, even though the result wasn’t important. It was extremely hard on the body and equally hard on the mind, I didn’t really enjoy it!

Results can be found here:

http://www.gcsiw.com/wp-content/uploads/bsk-pdf-manager/2016-03-02_1013.pdf

Two weeks of training later with my mind and body refreshed it was time to kick into the Senior European Laser Championships. A forecast of big wind and waves got many of us excited, but it ended up being an anti-climax as day 1 was blown out. Day 2 however brought what was promised and we had 3 good races in 3 metre swells and 20-25knots of breeze. We also got to experience the extremely long sail out and tow in, with the race course 10km’s from the yacht club, not very enjoyable! After day 2 I was sitting in 20th position after placing 20th, 9th and 10th.

I managed to stay around this position for the remainder of the event. Racing continued on day 3 with a lighter, trickier breeze, which became a staple for the rest of the regatta. This was the last day of qualifying so it was important to put my best foot forward heading into gold fleet the following day. Unfortunately I was scored BFD in race one, but ultimately it didn’t matter as one race had to be discarded from the Qualifying series and it was my worst finish anyway, having crossed the line in 22nd.

With day 4 came no racing due to a lack of breeze, so days 5 and 6 had three races apiece. The tricky breeze left the fleet in disarray with many people having high scores and struggling for consistency. I was one of the few who came out relatively unscathed, and after a strong final day I managed to jump up to 17th overall, a result that I am very happy with!

Results can be found here:

http://www.gcsiw.com/wp-content/uploads/bsk-pdf-manager/EU_TR_ST_1086.pdf

I was very happy to achieve my first top 20 result at a major European event and I hope to continue my form into the rest of the season. Up next is the annual Princesa Sofia regatta in Palma de Mallorca at the end of March, before the Sailing World Cup in Hyeres at the end of April and the Laser World Championships in Mexico, in May.

After a great week off following the Europeans, which involved staying in a Spanish hostel and doing some surfing in Gran Canaria with my brother Sam, I am now in Palma preparing for the upcoming regatta.

Thank you for reading and for the continued support!

Adios,

Andrew