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Matilda Nicholls on 2024

Southeast Sailboats sponsored sailor Matilda Nicholls had a great Palma regatta – read what she has to say about 2024 in this great write up.  Matilda Nicholls writes..

“It’s been a really busy year so far with the Olympics fast approaching. Starting it off in Argentina for the Worlds was amazing!  Massive waves made for epic sailing and Argentina’s hospitality was incredible. I ended up in 16th overall and despite this being one of my best Senior performances so far, I couldn’t help but think about what I had lost out on the final day of fleet racing as I had dropped from the top 10.

Shortly after, I received a call to say our Olympic trials had ended. I was really gutted to hear that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to compete again for the 2024 spot. With it being my first trials, it was a whirlwind of emotions – disappointment, yes, but also a strange sense of relief. The weight of expectation lifted, replaced by some clarity.  And after a couple weeks of reflecting, I was soon excited by the opportunity to learn as much as I could from the lead up to the Games which I will take onto the next Olympic cycle.

It has been really cool to continue working hard with my teammates Daisy Collingridge and Hannah Snellgrove as we push and help Hannah as much as possible towards a medal this summer. It’s an exciting time to work with each other without the trials looming over us. We have all been training hard over the last few months and I had been really looking forward to racing at the World Cup in Palma.

This event is almost as big as the World Championships, drawing in all the top ILCA sailors, making it a key competition in the calendar. It was also the final major competition ahead of the Olympics where every nation with their top sailors would be attending. I was really excited by this opportunity to compete against everyone really pushing ahead of the Games. I managed to kick off the week with a race win in proper survival conditions – massive waves and wind averaging over 25kts!!


The following few days saw some light to medium strength conditions. After day 2, I found myself wearing the red bib - this was only the second senior regatta I’d been in a medal position!  My coach told me I had to go and make it one better and we joked the blue bib would suit our BST kit much better. The next day was the first day of Gold fleet so racing became even tighter and harder with the top sailors in one fleet. And with a solid day I managed to do it, I was going into day 4 wearing the blue bib!

Day 4 proved to be a tricker, lighter day where I struggled but remained in the top 10, tight on points. Going into Day 5 I knew I needed two top 15s to keep myself in the top 10 ahead of the medal race. Race 1 I finished 14th only to discover I had been called over the line in the race. With a UFD on my score line I knew I had to just go out and smash the final fleet race of the regatta. The wind had slightly picked up and we were back to hiking. I can’t remember the last time I’ve hiked so hard in a race with max power in the rig just thinking I need to send it!  I crossed the finish line in 3rd and had made it into my first ever Medal race!!!!

Not only had I made it into the medal race, but I was going into it in 4th place with the potential of moving up to a medal position. That evening, I was reading up on all the different rules for medal racing in preparation for the next day. It’s times like these where it is so cool to have such talented and experienced sailors in my team. I was messaging both Hannah and Micky Beckett for any tips or different rules to be aware of and they both were super helpful and kept me calm going into the race!

Medal race day begins with an inspection of our boats by the measurers. The boat park feels very different with only you and your nine competitors lined up next to each other. After measuring we were quickly postponed due to a lack of wind and 5 hours later they launched us! A light breeze had filled it which made it very good medal race conditions for some boat-on-boat action. I switched on my focus for the racing and before I knew it we were off. I had a tricky 1st upwind putting me in 6th in the race but there was still lots to play for with us all so close together. After a good gate decision, I was up to 2nd in the race and manage to finish there. After all the others finished and a bit of maths with my coach we worked out I had moved up to 3rd. I had just won my first Senior medal!!

It was so nice to come back ashore and have so many friends, teammates and competitors come up and say well done. With our sport being so competitive on the water, it’s really cool to see the support we all have for one another once ashore. It was a quick turnaround to the prize giving which was held under the stunning Cathedral in the centre of Palma. I will be reliving these incredible moments of the last week for a long time! It’s great to see all the hard work coming together and proving to myself I can be at the top of our fleet.

It isn’t long now until I head to Hyeres for the French Olympic week. It’s a bit of a different set up this year with limited entries as the Last Chance regatta for nations looking to qualify for the Games is also happening at the same time. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to another week of tight racing. Then next stop Marseille! We will be training in the Olympic venue all summer to support Hannah in the build-up to the Olympics. Thank you as always to Max at Southeast Sailboats who has supported me for 5 years now and has always believed in me!"

Many thanks Matilda!

Photo credit: Sailing Energy