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Xanthe Bowater's account of the RS:X Youth Worlds windsurfing at Civitavecchia.

hello again from Singapore!

First of all, I am incredibly sorry for my lack of updates while I have been away, The accommodation I have been staying in hasn't had any internet access.

As you can probably tell, I am now on my way home, currently waiting in transit in Singapore Airport, after completing yet another world championship.

I arrived in Italy on the 15th October and spent the first 5 days training and becoming familiar with the landscape, conditions and weather tendencies. I had a real mix of conditions over these 5 days, my very first day out was around 20-25 knots with the biggest waves I have ever sailed in, around meters of swell paired with a sharp chop. The following days however the sea settled back down and the wind died down, leaving us with only about 5-8 knots on my final training day.

Day one of the event entailed a practice race (which doesn't count in the race series), registration and a big opening ceremony. The sailing conditions had roughed up again for this race and we had anywhere between 12- 20 knots on the racecourse and the sharp chop was back. The next day was our first official race day, we had 3 races in reasonably breezy conditions, once again. The sea was messy again, and it was obvious that every person in the fleet was struggling to come to terms with the challenging conditions. I finished the day with a 29th, 34th and 36th. I was optimistic about these and hoped that I would "drop" my 36th later in the series, as my worst race. Day two was lighter winds, somewhere between 8-14 knots but still with big rolling waves. I finished 29, 31, 37 in the 3 races today and was guttered with the 37th as this meant I would have to carry the points from the 36th I got the previous day. Wednesday was our rest day which I spent relaxing around Civitavecchia and catching up on some of my school work, trying to use little energy to be ready for sailing the next day. Thursday was meant to be race day number 3 but we didn't get a single race away for any of the fleets as a huge electrical storm rolled in and it was too dangerous for us to be on the water - especially given the conductivity of a 4 meter carbon fibre mast…! So on Friday the pressure was on the race committee to get away 3 races for every fleet, and the light shifty conditions weren't helping with this! We had a very long day with the first start being at 9.40, which meant hitting the water at 9am. today I had my best race, which I was pleased about as I favor these light conditions. My results for the day were 33, 16, 36, placing me 35th in the overall standings with one more race to go.

Saturday was the final day of racing and definitely the most exciting! First up they held the medal races which the top 10 competitors from each fleet race in and each placing is worth double points! Unfortunately there wasn't very much wind in the morning so they had to postpone the races until around mid day. The Youth boys fleet was won by a local boy, Mattia Camboni and it was so incredible to see the reception he go once he reached the shore, the town bells even rung out specially! The girls medal race was next and there was a lot of excitement around it as one of the competitors was over the start line which meant that they would have to carry a 22 point penalty. We didn't know until the race was over that the person who had received this penalty was in fact the regatta leader, Israeli competitor Hadar Heller meaning she lost her 11 point lead to finish up 2nd overall. There was a hush around the sailing club as she reached shore in tears as everyone felt so terrible for her, as 1st place was stolen from her by another Italian, Marta Maggetti.

After all of this excitement, the rest of the fleets headed out and sailed our final race. The conditions were incredibly light, only around 4-5 knots. I have never worked so hard in a race as I did in that one. I never stopped pumping until I crossed the finish line 20 minutes later, finishing 17th which brought me up to a final, overall placing of 34th.

I know that going into this event I wanted to finish higher up the fleet than 30th, but I am happy with how I did as I feel I have grown a lot and learnt so much. I was amazed by the standard, because unlike every other event I have done, the whole fleet was very similar in skill. Each person int the fleet was finishing within 5-6 minutes of the first person, as opposed to 10-15minutes. And, as I was discussing with some of the other girls, each sailor in the top 15 has held a major international title in the last few years, so it really was a star-studded line up! I am excited to get home and be able to share the new knowledge I have gained with other New Zealand sailors, in hope that they too will get the opportunities that I have been lucky enough to receive. I have invited many people to come and race in our fleets back home and have had lots of people asking "when is New Zealand hosting the worlds!!?" I really hope we can kick off this coming season with loads of competitive enthusiasm and grow our fleets in both Techno and RS:x. I can't wait to see what the next adventure will be and hope that we will start to get a stronger team of kiwi's traveling further to these incredible events.

I would like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has helped me to get to where I am. I couldn't have got to where I am without each person who has backed me, not only financially but also with encouragement and support. I can't wait to catch up with you all individually once I get home.

Thanks for your continued support,

Xanthe

My team
New Zealand International Yachting Trust, The Sargood Bequest, Lyttelton Engineering,Lyttelton Rotary, Christchurch City Council, Koller and Company, Motovated Design & Analysis, Lyttelton Port Company, Christchurch Kiwanis, Jeff Gray BMW, Catholic Cathedral College, Seventh Wave Wetsuits, Lyttelton Lions , ATF Fencing, Carl Taylor Homes, Precision Physiotherapy, House of Travel Merivale, Mitre Ten Mega Ferrymead, Skullcandy, Groundswell, Canterbury Windsports Association and Ferrymead Medical Centre, and of course, Mum and Dad

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