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Xanthe Bowater - RS:X windsurfing - Post Portugal update

Hello again! A very jet lagged Xanthe here, I arrived back into Auckland last Monday afternoon and was back at work straight away. (Might I add, the weather in this country is far too cold for my liking!)

So I have had a week to think about writing this email and figure out how to summarise such an awesome two weeks of the most intense racing I’ve ever done, in some of the most testing conditions and against some of the best under 19 female windsurfers in the world. Here is what I came up with:
I arrived in Tavira with the team on Thursday, after a total of 52 hours traveling and the weather was spectacular! A nice, hot, sunny 27º; a huge change from the rainy cold winter we had left behind here in NZ!

We had 2 days to kill before we could finally get our hands on our brand new charter gear so we played lots of team building games, explored the town and spent time getting used to the hot weather.
The venue was an interesting place to sail from as the yacht club launched onto an estuary/river type waterway which, it turned out, was particularly tidal and seeing as there didn’t seem to be a huge amount of breeze we were all intrigued to see how it was all going to work!
Once we got our new kit on the Saturday we spent the morning personalising it with all of our necessary extra equipment before heading out for a quick afternoon sail. It was light wind and the tide was against us as we tried to get out the river mouth but we eventually made it out and had our first experience on the open sea. The conditions we got this day turned out to be pretty typical, about 6-8 knots south to south-westerly with a slight swell and a temperature somewhere in the high twenties.

The following day (Sunday) we were scheduled to have a practise race but unfortunately, due to light winds, all classes except for windsurfers got to race due to the light winds. We were a bit disappointed about this but it gave us the opportunity to do a little bit of maintenance and then rest up for the long week ahead.
The opening ceremony on Sunday evening was pretty similar to most; a big group photo of all 367 sailors by the hotel pool, followed by a march through the streets with 67 different nations waving their flags high, all in their team uniforms, then we stormed the town square with around 500+ people to watch the “mixing of waters” ceremony and see the event officially opened before heading home to get some rest.

Monday was a day full of nerves and excitement for everyone on the team. We had another day of reasonably light winds, somewhere between 8-14knots, which actually turned out to be some of the strongest wind we saw all week! (I placed 15, 15,16 today).

Tuesday was one of the longest days i have ever had. With a 1pm race start scheduled, we were at the club at around 10.30am to get rigged and hit the water in plenty of time but when the wind struggled to come in they decided to postpone us and then sent out the 29er skiff class (who were sharing a course with us) out before us as they believed there wasn’t enough wind for the windsurfers to fight against the tide and get out of the river. So when 6 o’clock rolled around and the fleet were all still rigged and sitting onshore waiting, we started to think they wouldn’t send us out… 15 minutes later, however, the postponement flag came down and we all rushed to hit the water! Our first race didn’t start till 7.15 and three races later (placing 14, 14, 16) we got to watch the 9 o’clock sunset as we sailed through the finish line. We all had to be towed back up the river as the tide was rushing out and causing HUGE wave breaking at the river mouth. It was actually pretty dangerous and there was quite a bit of damage to people and kit. But we made it home eventually!
When i finally hit the beach at 9.30pm an official came up to me with a clipboard and paperwork and told me I had been randomly selected for a drug test. I was so hungry and tired I barely answered her as I washed down and de-rigged my kit trying to keep with my routines. After finding my coach at quarter past 10 and explaining that yes, sorry, I will be another hour before I can leave the yacht club I started sculling water in an effort to speed up the whole process. At 11.00pm I finally left the club and, having missed out on the bbq provided at the yacht club, and the buffet at the hotel, I went into town in search of food. Arriving back to the hotel after midnight I crashed into bed and hoped I would be allowed a sleep-in the next day!

Wednesday was frustrating. Again we sat on shore all day while other classes hit the water and went racing but finally at around 5pm they sent us out! Expecting another late night groans went out all around the rigging area as we launched and started to make our way up the river, only to make it half way out and have them abandon all of our racing for the day.

Thursday was a bit like Tuesday with light winds although there was a big swell running and a real urgency to get the RS:x fleets’ races away. We started at about 1pm and fired off 3 quick races before heading back to the shore. My results were a mixed bag and I was pretty disappointed overall. I started off with my best race so far and then ended with the worst result possible: 13, 16, 21.

The final day was the best! The wind filled in for the last race of the regatta and we planned around the course in 18-20 knots! We had three races with my results being 20, 17, 11. I was very disappointed with the first two races but ecstatic with an eleventh and really happy to have finally got some brilliant wind!

I finished up 16th overall which was not as well as I had hoped for but I know that I put everything I had into each individual race and was able to put the dramas from the previous race aside and focus on the what I needed to do next. I know that the fleet I was sailing against had some incredible windsurfers in it (some who are previous and current world title holders) and to be able to sail amongst such talent was a great learning experience and a real honour. Looking back on the event I am starting to see that even if it wasn’t the final result I was wanting, I worked my heart out both in the lead up to the event and during every race. I am proud of my achievements and am looking forward to setting some new goals in the next few weeks.
I am forever grateful for the opportunities that have been presented to me and will never forget the generosity of all of my sponsors, friends and family. I could never have gotten this far without anyone of you and for that I am so thankful.

Thanks again,
Xanthe Bowater
NZL 328


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