Aspiring New Zealand Olympic Sailor Andrew McKenzie continues his progress in the Men's Laser Class as he builds towards Tokyo 2020.
It’s that time of year where university exams have wrapped up for the semester, winter has set in and it’s time to start looking forward to my pinnacle event of the year, the Laser World Championships. But before looking forward it’s always good to look back on the year so far and reflect on past performances. The year started off strongly with a successful national title defence at Lake Taupo in January. The regatta was sailed in typically shifty conditions across a large wind range, but I managed to achieve a high level of consistency which ultimately decided the event. Next came a new regatta for this year, the NZL Sailing Regatta. Unfortunately my performance was marred by several jury infringements which ultimately cost me an opportunity at taking the regatta out. Despite finishing the regatta in 3rd, it was a great opportunity to review my technique and make some adjustments.
The following month was dedicated to some hard training on home soil including a win at the Oki 24 Hour Race with teammate Thomas Saunders as well as a very productive week of training in Sydney with the Australian Laser Squad. It’s always great to link up with our trans-Tasman brothers so I hope there will be many more training blocks to come. By the time April rolled around it was time to head to Hyeres, France for my first World Cup event of the year. Hyeres was an up and down week for me with moments of brilliance and moments of despair which ultimately culminated in a middle of the road result, 15th overall. Whilst this is an improvement on last year, I felt that I had let too many great opportunities through the week slide and at times couldn’t capitalize when in strong positions. Racing against the best in the world is never easy and the fleet in Hyeres was a strong representation of the level that the competition will be at at the World Championships later this year. One of my highlights from the regatta was recording my first World Cup race win; I need to do more of that!
Post regatta there was time for a few days off in Nice before travelling to Split, Croatia for a 10 day training block. Split is the location of the Worlds in September and our NZ team was lucky enough to work in with the Croation/Cypriot/Hungarian/Irish team for some great training. I’ve never done such an intense training block on a Worlds course area but I found it very beneficial and now am comfortable with the conditions and seem to have a handle on different types of days. I must say, Split is an awesome little city, rich in history and with amazing blue water, I definitely recommend it has a travel destination! To conclude my trip I travelled up to Medemblik, Netherlands for the Delta Lloyd Regatta. The Lasers had a strong fleet of over 100 boats which made for some exciting racing. We were greeted by uncharacteristically warm weather bringing days of unsettled breeze which made it extremely difficult on the race course. The qualifiers, which were over the first two days, were sailed in moderate offshore breezes where I carded all keepers (including another race win), which put me in a strong position going into the final 2 days and gold fleet. Both days of gold fleet had extremely light and unstable onshore breezes which made racing very tricky. Going into the last race I was well inside the medal race but a poor race for me and a good race for all the people who needed it meant that I just missed out. This was extremely disappointing as I can easily pinpoint several races where I made mistakes resulting in losing a handful of places. Despite all this it was great to get another regatta’s experience under my belt and hopefully make me stronger come the Worlds.
After a few weeks out the boat at home I am back on the water training and already looking forward to my next trip. In late July I have a 10 day training camp on the 2020 Olympic waters in Enoshima, Japan. I am back home for about 3 weeks after that until I jet back off to Split for the Worlds, followed by Barcelona for the Europeans and Japan once again for the first 2018 World Cup event and Enoshima Olympic Week. Whilst it’s always hard getting out on the water in cold and rainy conditions in Auckland, these events are providing me with more than enough motivation to get me through! Thank you all for reading and for the continued support.