Athena Racing (Octavia Owen Skipper, Ruby Riggs Main and Hebe Hemming Bow) take the Gold at the Marlow Ropes Women’s Match Racing National Championships!!

Octavia Owen reports:

All the hard work and training has finally payed off! A weekend of breezy sailing started on Friday afternoon for our practise session in the Elliot 6m. We spent the time wisely, as the forecast showed similar conditions for the rest of the weekend. Therefore practising speed, tacks, gybes, spinnaker hoists and drops were crucial. Pushing ourselves to the limit meant that Hebe on the bow took a quick dip in the sea during one of the gybes.

Saturday took off to a fantastic start. We went into the racing focused and ready to take on the tough competition ahead. After many close breezy matches that day we were extremely happy to have taken 9 out of 10 wins which meant we were the overnight leaders and the pressure was on us for the second day of racing.

Sunday started with the last of the round robin; what exciting races they were!! The competition was extremely tough, although we dominated the pre-start pushing the racing to the absolute limit. What better way to take on each match as though it was the last match of the event. We have learnt so much about the boundaries of decisions made on the water where penalties are given and not given. After each match we made sure to reflect on what we could improve on, this helped us win the first match in the finals against Ali. The spirits were kept high and motivated us to take on the next match. We were given a penalty 2 feet from the finish line on the second match, meaning we didn’t have the time to take the penalty and therefore Ali took the win on this match. We went into the third match with one win each; who was going to take the win?? We put the pressure on Ali’s team in the pre-start preventing them from tacking and gybing. We took the bullet on the start and the tacking duel began, making sure we were tacking at the correct point and to not be caught out by them. We won the second match with a small distance between us due to quicker spinnaker hoist and a great team work down the run protecting all the way. Now only one more race win was required to take the gold; the pressure was on. This time starting with the starboard entry meant we were in control from the very start. We just had to maintain it by giving the other team, and a penalty in the pre-start gave us an advantage around the course. We made sure that the spinnaker drops were not rushed at this point at it would really cost you. We were neck and neck up the final beat slightly bow forward meant we were the inside overlapped boat reaching the windward mark. Not far from the finish now, we were so focused that we hadn’t realised we’d already won 50m from the finish due to Ali’s team kite flying out the back of the boat acting as an anchor! Racing as quick as we could down the run to the finish, crossing the line was the best feeling ever, knowing that all your energy put into the last few races was worth every second. We jumped in to celebrate and quickly realised that we had no energy left to swim back to the boat and had to be hauled out of the water.