Gimson and Greig Reflect on Star Campaign

By John Gimson

The Star pair look back at 2009 and their first full year of campaigning

Having just finished our first full year star sailing we felt it a good time to thank our sponsors and give a brief roundup of our season.

The start of the year was spent in Miami, we arrived in very early January a few weeks before Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta, and trained with Jud Smith of Doyle Sails leading up to the regatta. As it was our first OCR in the Star, we had no idea where we would finish, or how quick we were going to be in our 9 year old boat! We finished 13th which we were relatively happy with as our first attempt at a star regatta.

The next event for us was the Bacardi Cup, which is the biggest annual event in the Star outside the World and European Championships. We set ourselves the goal of top 15 for this regatta, as this would be the result we would need to get at the Worlds or Europeans (later in the season) for continued support from the RYA, and an upgrade from the Skandia Team GBR Development Squad to the Performance Squad.

The Bacardi Cup is a very hard regatta as there are only 6 races normally 2½ hours long, with 1 discard, the same format as the Star Worlds. We hovered between 20th and 16th all week but didn’t pick up any really bad scores, then with a good last day we finished in 15th overall meeting our target. It also gave us a good idea of what we needed to work on to get another top 15 result at the Worlds and Europeans.

We then set ourselves a grueling schedule, with a regatta almost every other week from March till the end of July so we would be properly prepared for the Europeans and give ourselves the best chance of achieving our goal for 2009.

We went in to the Europeans wishing we had more time, but having finished top 15 in 5 out of the 6 regattas we did between Bacardi and the Euros we felt we had done all we could over the year to get the best result at this stage of our campaign in the given time, and hopefully continued support.

The good news for us was the regatta was going to be breezy, we had good pace over the season in the breeze and were happy with our sails and boat in this condition. We finished the Star Europeans in 11th overall and 8th European in the 93 boat strong fleet. This was a very pleasing result for us, and easily enough to progress into the performance squad and get the extra funding we badly needed.

Then back in the UK in the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, we finished 11th, an ok result but we both came away feeling slightly disappointed as gear failure in the final days racing moved us 1 place outside the top 10. But was enough to finish 10th in the ISAF Sailing World Cup.

We have just returned from Rio de Janeiro and the South American Championships. It was a very competitive 64 boat fleet, we were racing alongside 7 world champions and most of the top boats. After a bad start to the regatta we finished on a high scoring a 9th and 4th on the last day moving us in to what seems to be our average finishing position of 11th in 2009. This was followed by 3 weeks training as we our now preparing for the 2010 Worlds in Rio.

In line with our average of 11th place we finish the season 11th in the ISAF world rankings and know we have a lot of work to do in 2010 to move further up the fleet to get to where we want to be for the 2010 Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta which will be the Pre-Olympics, and what we are spending the next 9 months building up to.

Alongside Skandia Team GBR we have had a lot of support and would like to thank Eamonn O’Nolan for his ongoing support, Doyle sails for powering us and in particular Jud Smith for all of his input. Peter Harrison for providing us with our boat and of course Ian Barker for his coaching support.