BST blog – Emma Wilson – Some actual racing, it’s been a while!

Written by 9th December 2020 Blog, Tokyo 2020

Over the next year we will be bringing you guest blogs from the Tokyo 2020 selected athletes who will give you an insight in to their lives in the run up to the Olympic Games – this month, RS:X sailor Emma Wilson.

It’s been a while since I’ve said this: I had an RS:X regatta last month! Well actually I had two if we want to get technical.

I’ve been out in Vilamoura (Portugal) since October doing a lot of training with my coach Barrie [Edgington] and it’s been a really good block. Because we had the RS:X Euros in Vilamoura it was the first chance in a long time to line up against sailors from other countries who have finally been allowed to travel.

Before most big regattas we have a ‘coaches regatta’ as a warm-up event for everyone, and this was the same. I did really well in the warm-up regatta and I felt I had some good speed going into the Euros. It did the job, it warmed me up ready for the real racing.

I’ve been going to Vilamoura for about three years now so when the Euros were announced it was a bit of a no brainer to come here again – add into the mix Vilamoura’s conditions, which are very similar to what you have in Japan with big waves and a variety of wind conditions, and it becomes an even easier decision.

I remember the first session we had back as an international training group, it felt so weird – I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve had some really good training and a great group in Weymouth over summer, but there is something about training and being around your competitors which just takes it to another level. After a few sessions you soon get back into the swing of things again though.

It goes without saying that times are a bit different at the moment, but even without everything going on externally, the RS:X is in a bit of a weird place. The equipment is changing for Paris 2024 so the fleet is really small and you have to find small training groups to fit in to. You are either training or racing against someone who has qualified for the Olympics or who is trying to – there’s not big numbers outside of that pool of sailors now.

As well as doing the RS:X I have to think about wind foiling a bit. Luckily Weymouth is the perfect place to do RS:X, foiling, and a bit of wing foiling as well. I’ve had a lot of fun over the summer doing everything and I find the foiling compliments my RS:X. You have to take the positives out of it all.

I feel I have a real opportunity to do something great next summer and I believe I have the balance right at the moment. Over the winter months there aren’t so many RS:X competitions so I will do a mixture again of RSX , foiling and having fun on the water in any form! Then after that I can really attack the RS:X. I think the RS:X skills I am learning now can transfer over to windfoiling. It’s tricky and something I have to think about, but it’s a good challenge and keeps things interesting!

Anyway back to actual racing. The RS:X Euros. It was a strange regatta to be honest. We had so many different conditions but I felt I had a really good week. I had good speed. I was making a few mistakes but then I guess everyone says that don’t they.

The whole week was raced under lots of different conditions. The first day sunny and light winds then after that some pretty big, dark clouds were coming through with squalls sending the fleet all over the place. One race people couldn’t even find the finish line, it was chaos, but pretty fun at the same time. I really enjoyed the racing all week and got myself into second, six points off first going into the medal race.

In the medal race, we did a reaching start – we only do reaching starts in a medal race if its above 12 knots, they’re super fun and I think they make the race a lot more exciting. I was leading going into the first mark, then I had a good downwind leg and was going into the leeward mark joint first, but then I had a coming together with one of the Israeli girls and had to take a penalty turn. Unfortunately that put me at the back of the fleet. I tried to come back, but a big left shift and me on the right hand side of the course, let’s just say it didn’t turn out well for me.

After a week of rest it’s easier now to take a step back and look at the positives from the week – I know I was doing really well all week, some little mistakes cost me a lot, but it was another great experience heading into next year. Things like that just make me more determined. I’m really motivated to learn from my mistakes and keep improving my windsurfing.

Right now, I’ve still got a bit of my training block left but then I have some time off over Christmas and New Year. My family are in Vilamoura with me so we will spend some time together.

A typical Wilson Christmas will include some surfing, wing foiling, we will definitely be on the water though. So I think the plan will be: on the water all day and then have a nice meal in the evening, maybe a BBQ.  Family, food, and fun – that’s what Christmas is about isn’t it.