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A Time to Rest, Evaluate and Plan!

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49er Olympic Campaign

The colour of the sky and sea close to the Irish town of Dun Laoghaire was far from enticing but the training and racing carried out there by Malta’s teamSeb&Ben (MLT 1176) was interesting and satisfying.

Time to catch up with our boys, in their EC sponsored boat, as they strive for Olympic glory.

After a four-month euro-trotting experience teamSeb&Ben, namely Sebastian Ripard and Benji Borg, are back home. A trip where our young sailors drove through Italy, France, Holland, Germany and Ireland attending a number of significant training camps and competing in high-ranking events.

The European Championships held at Gdynia in Poland (05-10 July) were definitely the biggest test for the young Maltese sailors in their demanding 2010 campaign which took them to five European racing arenas.

The success of the Poland experience went beyond the actual result achieved at the Championships. Firstly the locals took part in a pre-regatta training camp, organised by the 49er class and run by Richard Parslow, the legendary ex-British 49er coach who has to his credit two Olympic Silver medals and a bunch of World Championships.

“The training camp was great because apart from the opportunity to practice our skills and receive an immediate feedback from a very experienced 49er coach, it was a valuable networking occasion and moreover a great moral boost”, remarked Sebastian.

“We had some very good feedback from Richard Parslow who thought we had the potential to make it to the top but he also underlined the commitment and hard work that it would take. The way to achieve success was Training, training, and training”, declared Benji.

The young Maltese sailors feel that the Championships themselves were a bit of a let down since they didn’t perform to their best, or as well as they had done in training. They finished 69th out of 90 boats. This was viewed as a successful result by their Polish coach even though they felt they could have done better. Marcin Czajkowski, a Polish 49er coach, who himself was a double Olympian, was engaged by teamSeb&Ben to assist them on this important commitment – definitely another indication of the professional approach the local boys are giving to their 49er Olympic Campaign.

After their Polish experience Sebastian and Benji travelled to Ireland to join a training camp at Dun Laoghaire where they stayed till the end of July. Ireland was but a massive boost to both their moral and skill.

“Here we had time to brush up on quite a few of our weak areas and were consistently beating teams that only a few days before in Poland had been a lot faster than us and much higher up the ranking list”, observed Sebastian.

Ireland was the end to their eventful international season. It ended on a high but the young sailors have a tough winter ahead of them, with a lot of training and time on the water.

Ben and Sebastian intend to take August lightly in order to relax, earn some money and get back into their fitness while they wait for their gear which has been shipped from the UK to Malta. During this period they also plan to meet their sponsors to brief them of their past campaign and future plans. EC English Language Centres and Yacht Help Ltd are the main sponsors of teamSeb&Ben campaign, with other major support being extended by Simonds Farsons Cisk plc through its beer brand, Cisk Excel.

In a period meant for resting Sebastian still could not resist joining two other members of the Ripard family on a big boat regatta at the Cowes Week, on the Isle of Wight, in England, where sailing with his brother Thomas and his uncle Jonathan Calascione they managed an excellent 2nd in the J80 class.

Well, Sebastian and Ben will also crew on Jaru, the new J133 of Andrew Calascione in another major test – the 31st edition of the 606-nautical-miles Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Yet their 49er Olympic Campaign remains their ultimate objective where a lively training and racing programme is being planned for September and October.


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