Olympic sailing champion Pippa Wilson will make her first international outing since the Beijing Games at the this week’s fifth leg of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Medemblik, Netherlands (27-31 May).
The former Yngling bowgirl and the youngest of the famed gold-medal winning trio will return to international waters on the Ijsselmeer at the 2009 Delta Lloyd Regatta – but this time there’ll be just one blonde in the boat.
With fellow Beijing gold medallist Sarah Dempsey – with whom Wilson earlier this year announced she will campaign in the 470 class towards London 2012 – in the latter stages of pregnancy, Wilson will go it alone for the time being, having jumped ship to the single-handed Laser Radial to keep her competitive hand in during 2009.
“I needed a challenge and this was the best choice – but even so it’s been a pretty massive change,” the 23-year-old Wilson explained.
“I’ve gone back to helming, and I’m on my own in the boat which is a new thing for me.
“The Radial is a tactically and physically challenging boat so I’ve been working pretty hard. I’ve had to put on a bit of weight, but just really get stronger. I’m using different muscles – certainly ones that are not used to be being used to the extent they are!
Having raced at just one domestic event in the Radial, Wilson knows she is playing catch-up in an already established and competitive international fleet, so thoughts of the podium are not featuring on her mind.
“I hadn’t really intended to race much this year, but there are always opportunities to learn from everything so decided to come here and do just that. It’s definitely not about the results!
“The idea is to just get a feel for the rest of the fleet and learn from it – there are a lot more boats on the startline than I’m used to in the Yngling, and of course I’ve no-one to talk to so that’ll be a bit strange.”
Wilson is one of 48 Skandia Team GBR sailors who have made the trip to Medemblik for the 25th edition of this Dutch regatta, which will see some 650 boats entered and will welcome the new Olympic discipline of women’s match racing back to the World Cup series.
Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Ali Martin will look for another strong World Cup performance, having clinched a bronze medal at the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta, which so far has been the only World Cup competition to have held racing for the new women’s Olympic event.
For this event in Medemblik, the women’s match racing will be raced in Ynglings, with the modified Elliot 6m boats still being built
photos Janos Schmidt