The last weekend in May was the Challenger Class Association Oxford Regatta. And this year the Oxford regatta was also the English National Championships.
For various reasons I stopped attending any of the regattas other than the Oxford one a few years ago. Part of me would like to go to more of them but it was definitely the right decision. This year I very nearly didn’t take part in the Oxford regatta either but I’m so glad I did, I had a brilliant time.
I’ve written in previous years about the difficulties I face with regattas – I’ve struggled a lot first with being able to sail so many times in a short period (usually the fleet goes out four times over two days) and then when I could manage that many sails, with being able to tolerate being in the boat for the long periods of time required.
Those problems are the main reason (although with my anxiety and spatial awareness issues which are linked in this case) that I still sail in the bronze fleet rather than moving into the silver as I’ve previously been encouraged to.
This year it felt like for the first time everything came together at once and worked. The weather was good (I even did one of my sails with just a t shirt under my lifejacket), the wind although flukey with occasional gusts was at a managable level. I had no problems getting a buddy to sail with and we had such a great time sailing together. I managed to get out on the water every time the fleet went out. I didn’t get freaked out. And I didn’t get too sore being in the boat for long periods. It was uncomfortable, especially towards the end of the sails and I was achy after but it was tolerable in a way it hasn’t been before.
There were three of us sailing in the bronze fleet this year. Out of six races, we were jockeying for position and our ranking varied. We even had a couple of “photo finishes” But I won four of the six races (for the Bronze fleet). And I won the Bronze fleet – coming 9/12 overall.
Which means that I am the Challenger Class Association Bronze Fleet English National Champion 2016.
It’s the second time I’ve been champion. The last time, several years ago, I beat one other person by 1 point and I didn’t really feel like I deserved it. This time I beat two other people and was 5 points in front of the person who came second. It was more of a challenge to achieve that this time so it really feels like more of a real thing than it did before.
I’m so glad I changed my mind about taking part!