Campaign Update: Andrew McKenzie Olympic Laser Men's Class
"I’m really happy with the way I’m sailing at the moment and am hoping to carry my momentum forward into the Laser World Championships starting in 10 days time in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico."
Following my time at the European Championships in Gran Canaria I travelled to Palma de Mallorca to compete in one of my favorite events of the year, the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Regatta. This was a Eurosaf event and as usual drew a large, high quality fleet. I had a long build up in Palma, lasting two weeks. This was quite long, but there are worse places in the world to hang out!
The Laser fleet had over 150 entries, which meant 3 qualifying fleets and gold, silver and bronze fleets for the finals series. This always makes it hard to gage what a good race really is in Qualifying, but I started strong scoring my first top 5 race of the European season in the first race, and progressing into the finals series in a solid 22nd place. Unfortunately that’s where my good fortunes ended, and my Palma gold fleet curse from the year before returned with a vengeance. I sailed some of the worst races I have sailed in a long time and couldn’t even fluke a good race. I slipped down the leaderboard to 34th position, which in the scheme of things wasn’t too bad, but was still bitterly disappointing at the time and a blow to my confidence.
After the regatta I stayed on in Palma for week of cycling with some other competitors and thoroughly enjoyed exploring the mountains that make Mallorca such a popular cycling destination. As well as being a lot of fun it doubled as some tough fitness training, which has set me up with a good base for the remainder of my tour.
Next up it was a weeks training in Barcelona at the International Sailing Centre with fellow Kiwi Laser sailor Andy Maloney. It was a cruisy week with some great training conditions in moderate strength sea breezes. It was good to keep the legs active and my feeling of the boat in check as I drew closer to the important end of my season. It was nice to spend some time in tourist mode in a city, which I enjoyed.
I arrived in Hyeres, France 10 days prior to the start of the World Cup event which allowed for some great on the water training with the best guys in the world. It didn’t take long to get my mind back into race mode. With only 40 entries allowed in the World Cup events it makes for super tight and competitive racing, of which it’s easy to find yourself at the back of the pack after only one small error.
We had a great range of conditions throughout the regatta with 2 very windy days and 2 quite light days. I managed good races in both conditions but was missing the consistency to put me up in medal race contention. Unfortunately on day 1, on the last leg to the finish line my bottom mast section snapped which meant I couldn’t make it across the finish line. This made a good position become my worst race, which ultimately had a large impact on the overall result of the regatta. The last 2 days of the regatta I sailed my best races, scoring three in the top 10 which lifted me up to 20th position overall. It was nice to reach my target of a top 20 result despite the tough circumstances of the week. Had I not been so unlucky with the timing of my rig failure I would’ve been as far up as 13th place, which would’ve been my best result to date.
It was great to be part of the NZL team in Hyeres and see the other laser boys duking it out for Olympic selection. Both Sam and Andy sailed great events, finishing 2nd and 5th overall respectively. Congratulations to them!
I’m really happy with the way I’m sailing at the moment and am hoping to carry my momentum forward into the Laser World Championships starting in 10 days time in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. As I write this I am sitting in Nice airport waiting for my outbound flight, dreaming of the warm weather to come!
Just 3 more weeks of my epic tour to come, until it’s finally time to board a plane home to Auckland.
Stay tuned and thanks for reading!