A great write up by Southeast Sailboats sponsored sailor Micky Beckett on his first major events of 2023..
Palma World Cup and Hyeres Olympic week
Palma World Cup is normally the first highly anticipated regatta of the year, the first real occasion to put the winter’s training to the test and it is an event that indicates the competitive season has begun. Except this year it wasn’t the first event. Most competitors arrived directly from the ILCA Europeans in Andorra, Italy. The other Brits and I chose not to attend in favour of doing some additional training in Palma, from the outside it appeared to be a turbulent regatta with exceptionally long days on the water.
Day one of Palma was a day of bizarre weather. The huge entry of over 180 men was split into three fleets - I was in in yellow fleet, which meant that I was in the first fleet to race in a moderate southerly breeze. The pattern would go – start, big left shift, abandonment, wait, restart, over and over. Around 5 hours and 7 starts later we got a race away in a North-Easterly, all the while the other two fleets just waiting by the side. Ours was the only fleet to race that day.
Day two was another long day, this time featuring persistent right shifts, making the day as tough for the race committee as the sailors. In theory the qualifying series should only have been two days long but an insufficient number of races had been completed, so the qualifying series extended into day 3. The sun came out and a nice south-west breeze made for a glamorous day on the water, which unfortunately was also a day I struggled to choose the correct bits of the race-course to be on. I went into the final series in 6th overall.
Day 4 was a bumper 3-race day. The opening day of final series is always tense, with the start being both critical and difficult to do well. The sea breeze was slightly fickle at 8 – 10 knots. I managed to put together one of my best days sailing by arriving in good shape at the windward mark, ahead of the melee. I sailed ashore after a long day having scored a 1, 1, 3, which even as a normally cynical person I had to be pleased with.
I wore the gold bib on the final day of fleet racing as the event leader. With just two races to do I had the opportunity to win the regatta ahead of the medal race. The opening race I finished 2nd behind team-mate Elliot Hanson, which was a good start to the day. In the final race I got the first beat wrong and worked my way back to 10th, which as I crossed the line I was confident was enough to win the regatta ahead of the medal race, something I’ve never even come close to doing before. The feeling of doing this and getting to sail the medal race with no pressure was very special and something I will long remember.
The turnaround to Hyeres Olympic week was a quick one, I flew home and back out just a week later. All the same sailors were there, the same unforgiving presence of every best ILCA sailor in the world, just this time in a new venue.
The regatta can be summarised quite easily. For two days it was violently windy, comfortably 20-30 knots of the Mistral. It’s always tough having such windy days opening the regatta as the fatigue remains all week. Thereafter these two days it remained below 10 knots, and was some of the lightest and trickiest racing I had done in a long time.
I went into the final day of fleet racing in 2nd overall wearing the blue bib. The day went on for 8 hours and with over 15 attempted starts it was a struggle to remain focussed all day. The breeze was so light and determined to go left at start time, which caused so many of the abandoned start times. Whilst a 3rd and a 4th from the two races may not be anything to shout about, given the nature of the day I was very pleased when we eventually got ashore.
I went into the medal race wearing the yellow bib, leading the event by 5 points. The medals were contested by myself, Elliot Hanson, Pavlos Kontides (CYP) and Matt Wearn (AUS). It was an immensely tactical race, a chess game played out over the finest of margins. I made a few small mistakes at exactly the wrong time, costing me the overall regatta title, which deservedly went to Elliot after he sailed a very good race.
Whilst that race at the end of that regatta was frustrating, a gold and a silver medal from two events that were so challenging isn’t something I’m going to complain about. I am fortunate to receive an immense amount of support, without which I wouldn’t get very far at all. Not least I had a superbly rigged boat from Southeast Sailboats.
Many thanks to Micky for this great write up. UPDATE 31 May 23 - based on the above great performances, Micky has been selected by the RYA to represent Great Britain at the upcoming Paris 2024 Test Event this July. Congratulations Micky!