Bryony Shaw has proven herself as a force to be reckoned with in the new RS:X Olympic class. Having recently returned home to the UK as the number one RS:X Woman at the Raceboard World Championships there are high hopes for the 22 year old from Weymouth. In November last year the decision was made to replace the Mistral One Design with a new Olympic board: the Neilpryde RS:X. It was only in June this year that the British Team received their first set of kit. Four months of hard training, on and off the water, set them up for the World Championships in Cadiz, Spain.
Competition was fierce in the Women’s fleet, with the attendance of the 2004 Olympic Gold Medallist Faustine Merret (FRA), European Champion Lise Vidal (FRA) and 2005 World Champion Blanca Manchon (ESP). The Men’s line up included Julien Bontemps (FRA) 2004 Mistral World Champion and Wojtek (POL) the Formula Windsurfing World Champion. All eyes were eager to see who had adapted best to the new RS:X kit.
The World Championships were preceded by a two day RS:X event, which set the scene for the racing to come. In four light wind races, Faustine, Blanca and Bryony took 1st 2nd and 3rd places respectively. Cadiz Bay was full of fishermen and debris – after a close encounter of a fishy kind, Bryony stayed calm enough to joke: “A line got caught round my mast. My frantic efforts to break it or to pump through it failed and I looked back to see two fish flapping behind the board – oh s***, I’ve gone fishing!", still finishing 9th in that strange race.
After the ISAF event had set the scene, the Worlds were sure to be an exciting battle. Bryony had a good, first day with two solid finishes in the top three. However, the Tuesday brought disaster. “At the end of that day I was gutted that not only did I have to carry a 19th but also an OCS. However, on the Wednesday, my nearest rivals, Faustine and Flavia Tartaglini (ITA), also had disappointing results, whilst I had my best day." Three days still to go and the famous local wind, the Levente, kicked in, bringing gusts of up to 22 knots. Bryony, who enjoys the windier conditions, put in another five consistent races to secure her first place finish.
The other Brits finishing in the top five were Nick Dempsey in the men’s fleet and Lucy Horwood in the women’s. With the rest of the team not far off this was a promising week for all. Summing up her feelings at the end of the regatta, clutching her silver trophy and happy in the knowledge that she had beaten the best in the world, Bryony said: “In effect, this was an eight day regatta and my fitness and a totally focused attitude really paid off. The range of conditions tested everyone to the limit and the Brit girls showed that they are a force to be reckoned with in the coming season."
To prepare for a competition of this standard Bryony concentrated on fitness training, and adaptating to the new kit. Bryony said “Training with Lucy and Christine, who are on top of the world in formula windsurfing, has helped me a lot in the strong winds." Her ten hours a week cycling, and additional strength and power training in the gym, gave her the confidence that fitness would not be an issue.
After taking the win at the first big RS:X event, Bryony will now be training with the rest of the squad over the winter for her next international regatta, which is to be held in Miami late January.
A full report and pictures can be found in next issue of Boardseeker Magazine