Vita's 470 Campaign - 2023 Update

20 November 2023 by Vita Heathcote

Cecil Wright & Partners are delighted to sponsor Vita's campaign to make the 2024 Olympic Games.

We are now GBR 4
What’s been on…

While Twiggy has been away winning his title at the J70 World Championships!… I have been sailing with my brother alongside doing important boat prep for the winter and Olympic selection trials ahead; spending a week in the factory specking out our new masts and working on our new boat!

To keep my eye in while Twiggy was away I did the National ranking regattas with William (brother). This is 2 weekends in Weymouth, providing windy and exciting small-fleet racing with the rest of the British boats (+the Americans). We had a great time sailing together and came away with the win after winning all 5 races in the second weekend! It’s awesome to still be ripping around in good shape and able to win races even when Twiggy is away; super crew to the recuse once again! (He also jumped in with me for the 2022 Europeans and we took the under 23 European title!). I then drove the gear to Vilamoura where our winter programme begins!

Getting a new boat will help us with our speed; they are stiffer, fairer on the bottom and have sharper edges! After being flat out with sorting equipment for a while I am so ready to get back on the water and into the training rhythm! Let’s go sailing! Just 3 months of winter training before the trials begins, so we will have to get straight into it. This first block will be targeted at speed, lane holding and technique. As we are just a small group of boats at this first camp, it is a good opportunity to line up with another boat and get our technique dialled in. We chose this venue as it has quite similar sea state to Palma, where our Worlds will be in Feb, so it’s really important to learn what the different types of swell/chop require to go fast and adapt our technique accordingly. It will be good to do some training away from the fleet so we are sharp and up to speed when we come back to them in Lanzarote next month.

Vilamoura is predominantly a light wind venue. Twiggy and I are very strong in winder conditions but have a speed deficit and weakness in the light airs. We have only done a couple of days racing in light conditions, one of which was Day 1 of the Worlds this year. If we discarded Day 1s results for the whole fleet, we would’ve ended up finishing the Worlds in 4th place! So light winds needs some serious practice and attention. The UK provides quite the opposite at this time of year!

December and January we will be in Lanzarote with most of the international fleet, including all the top teams. We will use these blocks to look into boat on boat tactics and set plays - more of a racing focus to get us tuned in for the spring events. This has been an area we have identified after our last Worlds in August, and we have been working on building this autumn in the UK with help from experts. It will be great to get back together with the fleet again; having not seen or lined up with them them since August. Being around so many other world-class athletes brings an intensity and drive to push hard - its not a good feeling seeing someone else work harder than you, so you work harder!

So what does this mean?

There is one Nation spot at the Worlds and another 4 at the Europeans. This means its a chance for one of our teams to qualify Great Britain as a nation for the Olympic Games (as there is only a certain number of spots at the Games). Most of the European nations have already qualified, so it should be fairly straight forward to qualify ourselves in these next events. Qualifying our nation for the Olympics does not mean we ourselves are selected - it just guarantees the country a slot.

The GB selection trials is separate (but happens at the same events), and is between us 2 British boats - as only one of us can be selected to represent the nation at the Olympics. It is a tight and prolonged process. There is no black and white criteria that will select you. Doing back to back events that all matter and may play a part in the selection is very gruelling and intense. In theory the trials process began in spring this year! But as neither of us performed clearly above the other, no selection was made.. and so it rolls on…

It will be over a year of the trials process, which is relentless!

Due to our performance at the Worlds this year (finishing 2 places above our opposition) we are currently the front runners in the trials process; however it is very tight and is still all to play for! Especially considering one team or the other has to perform for 4 consecutive events - this is extremely hard to do as you inevitably have peaks and lows through the year. You can imagine how maintaining a peak over 4 regattas and 3 months is incredibly difficult! We compete in a sport which has more variables than any other; many elements are out of our control and the odds can be stacked with or against you at any point!

Essentially, we have to beat the other team substantially or at all the events to be selected. It is all quite a grey area so to guarantee being selected we need to go and smash them!

Lining up for a tuning run with our opposition!

This is what our movements around the continent looks like:

Ferry UK-Spain, drive to Portugal [camp] drive to Spain, Ferry Spain-Lanzarote [camp] Ferry Lanzarote-Palma [camp, Worlds, Princess Sofia] drive Palma-Hyères [SOF] drive Hyères-Cannes [Europeans] drive home!

How this looks in expenses;

We do this with a BST van with one boat on the roof and towing a trailer with a rib and boat - a fairly hefty load! Each ferry costs about £1000. Plus driving around Europe with a several tonne load is not cheap on the fuel! Expenses for the trials process are the highest of any point in a campaign, you are doing absolutely everything in your power to maximise speed and racing performance.

A new suit of sails for each event (£2500) is required to compete at the top.

Entry fee for each regatta is £450.

The new boat just cost over £20,000! A full drain on the funds!

We’ve named her the Maillot Jaune (Yellow Jersey) - referring to the Tour de France leader! Seeing

as the Olympics are ‘En France’, we thought it rather appropriate!

Masts and extra equipment come to £3000.

To get work done on the boat to sharpen her up and check everything is aligned is another chunk.

So all in all this coming year is going to be en expensive one! This is where support from Cecil Wright comes in - helping us to be able to put ourselves forward and prepare with the best equipment possible to have the best chance of success


Vita's 470 Campaign - 2023 Update


Ryan and Vita's 470 Campaign - January Update


Ryan and Vita's 470 Campaign - May Update

Contact the team