I cannot lie, I feel more nervous now about this than almost anything I can remember. I feel completely unprepared for it due to a distinct lack of wind lately. Last year I clocked up over 100 sessions on the water and went from making the odd gybe to making most of my gybes, and keeping up with most people on the water. I entered this year knowing I had to learn how to do a slalom start before the event season started. January was good, with about 15 sessions on the water, I had new kit and wanted to play though so never got round to training the start.
February came and the wind went, with only a couple of sessions I started to learn how far I travelled in 20-30 seconds and the time it takes to do a semi planing gybe but never used the watch I had bought even though it was on my forearm.
March came and I knew I had to start with the watch, but also by this time I had my new sails and needed to get them out and find their sweet spots for rigging. I had one session where there was enough time to do this and two after work sessions which were still a splash and dash dues to cold northerly winter winds and not much light. I had to find which fins worked best with certain sail set ups was good and I found the sweet spot for both the 8.0 and 7.3 Hot Sails GPS, paired with the Exocet SL Sport 78 and the Exocet RS4. It was a day of a lot of rigging and a lot of fin changing. I didn't get much practice in with the slalom starts, but thought I still had 6 weeks before the event. There was even a mini (beach start) slalom at the OTC which I didn't enter as I was too busy re-rigging and testing the new kit with different downhaul settings and fins, and trying to get the harness lines correct. Its a good job I did as there has not been an opportunity since to get it wet.
With no wind I am now completely unprepared, and very nervous. The only thing that can help me is a quote I can remember from the film "We Bought a Zoo",......., 'you only have to be courageous for 20 seconds'. So each time I feel those nerves I am going to say that to myself and just carry the kit to the water and do my best. No matter what position I finish in I know I can be happy that I tried, especially after the illness in the past two years that has caused and still continues to cause problems with my fitness.
It is such a long time since I have felt these nerves, in my youth I would get them for exams but have since sat so many that I don't get nervous for one. I used to feel nerves before public speaking but as a teacher that went after the kids tore me apart on my first day. These nerves are a nice feeling though and I hope I can rise to the occasion. Good luck to everyone this year for the BSA Slalom season, especially my team mates Jon White (Pro Fleet) and Andy Freeman (Amateur Fleet).
Good speeds and winds
A nervous bus!