Dylan Fletcher reflects on how he & his crew, Stu Bithell have remained focused, in what has been a very challenging time for all Olympians. We wish them luck as they head to Tokyo 2020.
Its been a crazy ride the last 18 months, certainly for myself and Stu as we have had to deal with more uncertainty than ever over our life dreams and goals. From losing the GBR F50 team to Ben Ainslie, a cancelled Moth worlds in Weymouth and not least, the delay to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
We have tried to always keep in mind how lucky we are, just to have sailed the F50 for that first season was incredible & there will always be another Moth worlds and hopefully, one on home waters. Then the Olympics which felt like torture when we had to go through the uncertainty of whether it would go ahead. Would we have to be reselected? What would the regatta look like? On the other hand we still had this goal of Olympic gold, even if we were not certain it would happen, the hope remained, & we got our heads down to work hard.
Lockdown one was the longest I have ever not sailed since I started racing. Normally when I am not in the 49er, no doubt the Moth will be getting tinkered with or sailed to keep my game sharp and push my limits. As I am sure many of you did, we were doing home workouts every day, twice a day. In Olympic sailing it is not very often you get to spend months working on fitness without sailing getting in the way. The balance between the two can be tricky to get right, but with this enforced lockdown and time training, we came away fitter than ever. Every cloud has a silver lining!
Eventually they decided to delay the Games by one year & we were to remain selected which was a huge weight off our shoulders. The Olympic trials takes a huge amount of energy, time, planning & equipment. We were super happy that we achieved our goals during them, which was to ensure there were no questions asked when it came to the 49er Class by comfortably dominating the other team. Since the trials, all our efforts went into Olympic preparations, focusing on what sailors we needed to be to win in Tokyo, what conditions we wanted to be fast in and therefore push to find equipment fast in those conditions. One of the best parts of the British Sailing Team is the strong 49er squad. The guys all did an incredible job to set up and commit to our programme while we were in these uncertain times. It was surreal spending so much time in the UK away from the fleet but we kept our heads down, always working towards our goals & vision.
Looking back at when I was younger sailing the 29er, there were times I felt like I had lost everything or didn’t know what to do next. Those experiences are all just little speed bumps on the road to where I am now. Winners make mistakes, get lost at times & have the rug pulled out from under their feet, the difference is how you come back from it. Just keep looking forward, do what you can and make sure you enjoy the journey wherever it takes you. At the time I remember thinking I had failed in the 29er for not winning the Worlds or Europeans but maybe if I had, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
What I love, sailing a 49er and heading off to represent Team GB with an incredible crew, Stu Bithell.