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Matilda Nicholls on Palma and Hyeres

A great write up by Southeast Sailboats sponsored sailor Matilda Nicholls on her first major events of 2023.

After a long winter of training, I was really excited for the first major events of the season to begin. It’s only my second year competing in these major Senior competitions since moving out of the youth fleets which made me even more excited to head back to Palma for the first competition, the Princess Sofia Regatta. It was also great to see so many familiar faces again with this being the first competition of the year where all the Olympic classes compete at the same venue.

 Nerves were high for the first race on the first day of racing as it had been a while since I’d lined up against all the best ILCA 6 girls in the world. It is incredible to see how far the fleet has come even in the few years I have been a part of it. The depth and standard is getting better and better, and you just can’t afford any mistakes with many talented sailors managing to do all the right things! Unfortunately for me I really struggled to get off the start line which resulted in playing a bit too much catch-up during a fair chunk the week. Although the week didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, I had plenty of learning points to take into the next competition.

Two weeks after the Princess Sofia Regatta finished, I was back off to Europe for the Hyeres Olympic Week! I couldn’t wait to get racing going again after spending time back home reflecting on Palma and deciding how to move forward with it all. I managed to finish the first day of racing with my first ever major Senior race win! It was also blowing big Mistral winds which for me was such a big, personal step forward in my sailing as I have been working very hard over the last 6 months on my fitness and hiking endurance. My starts were so much better than they had been in Palma and I was really happy to have seen so much progress in only a few weeks! I managed to finish 14th in the end which was another great step for me. There were still of course several mistakes to iron out from the week but that in itself is exciting for moving forwards with my goals.

I am absolutely loving all aspects of sailing and the steep learning curve in the ILCA 6. It is such a competitive class at the top level which creates some exciting and tight racing. It has been tricky balancing it with the last three years of university, but I am grateful to able to do both. Next up is a big summer of training in Marseille (Paris 2024 Olympic venue) and in The Hague (Worlds 2023 venue) after my exams are complete. Thank you to Max at Southeast Sailboats for all of your support helping make this all possible!

Many thanks Matilda for this insightful write up.