What a difference a day makes, 24 hours ago I was going into the last day of our regatta hoping and a little apprehensive about what the result of all our efforts over the last nine months was going to bring in our last day at the Laser Radial regatta here in the sailing at the Tokyo Olympics.
I went to bed tired having spent hours checking through previous race tracking to learn from these experiences, checking forecasts, reading all of the sailing instructions, and reems of documents and procedures, all the new documents for the medal race. Finally reminding myself that for my athlete I need to be clear in communications, calm and relaxed, well planned and organised.
So when Sunday dawned, we had a light onshore gradient breeze forecast, and for it to turn into a seabreeze in the PM. Thankfully a great breeze on a busy sailing schedule, our Medal Race start was at 1533 and a 30 minute race.
Josefin Olsson my Swedish Laser Radial sailor was lying in third place with eight points to Silver and 15 points to Gold. However the issue was very close behind a pack of four boats in the overall standings. This meant to climb the ladder Josefin would have to win the race whilst also putting enough places between her and the main opposition the Netherlands Sailor in Silver.
For me I needed to be well organised, I got the coach boat ready; prepped my chat with Josefin by doing a test run with our Laser mens coach and got ready to do a last check over all the documents before Josefin arrived at the boat park at 12 o’clock.
Everything else went smoothly, the quarantine of the boat with Measurers, the kit preparation and the media zone chatting to the Swedish press.
We had our last team briefing for the race, we discussed the plan of approach, how it was important to attack the race, keeping it simple and sailing clear of traffic. We knew what the call book for the Enoshima race course said: that it was a tidal influence but that top left was good.
Most importantly I reinforced to Josefin how resilient she had been throughout the regatta. That she’d been sailing superbly well, that she should be really confident to trust her gut feelings and decisions. Finally be aware that some other competitors would try and make life difficult and attack her and beat her by match racing.
D flag was flown and we launched, this was going to be the biggest moment of both of our careers to that point. I locked into my pre race routine, doing the tide and wind checks, then to Josefin for the last boat setup assessment, to see if we could squeeze any more speed out of her boat and her technique.
She was pretty cool and calm and did a great job in her preparations. We had a last little catch up chat at the boat prior to the start and we reinforced that keeping it clean keep it clear of traffic and keeping it simple. Lastly leaving her with a little reminder that she is the best in the world and Josefin went off on a race.
The rest as they say is history and I watched from my coach boat 100 m below the start line, an agonising distance away when you are trying to see whats going on up the race track and see where she was going. As you can imagine trying to look at the course through binoculars behind lots of big VIP boats was rather challenging. Fortunately there is a massive barge by the harbour wall, with a 50 m long TV screen showing the live stream footage and analysis. So I was watching the racing from on the water and then flitting back to look at this big TV and then again back to the watch the racing.
To say it say it was stressful was a massive understatement. But Josefin really delivered, after a tough, but safe start (thank goodness, unlike two boats OCS) and a difficult windward leg rounding in 7th, Josefin found her form downwind (her strength) and gained up to 3rd at the leeward mark, GO JOSEFIN! She sailed into the lead on the second upwind and then attacked the downwind to lead at the last gate and then the finish. Winning the medal race and after the Netherlands competitor dropped to 7th securing the SILVER MEDAL.
I cannot describe my emotions, but both of us were in shock and relieved and so happy! I'll pen more insights in the coming days but for now thanks for all of the support and encouragement. A particular thanks to my loving family who I miss dearly.
All the best from a Silver Medal Coach!
Hugh Styles signing out for now.