Great Britain sailor Charlotte Dobson insists her new Olympic venture, whist challenging, has left her as excited as ever to get going as she prepares for her first race in the brand new 49er FX class introduced for the Rio 2016 Games.
The 26-year-old made the switch to the two-person FX – the women’s equivalent of the men’s 49er high performance skiff – in September after two attempts at Olympic qualification in the single-handed Laser Radial class.
Just like its male counterpart, the FX is fast and a tricky boat to get to grips with and Dobson admits her first encounters were far from plain sailing – leaving her battered and bruised.
But ahead of her first competitive outing in the new boat later this week in the Princess Sofia Trophy held at Palma Bay, Majorca, Dobson is relishing the opportunity to test herself in the new class.
“It’s been absolutely amazing,” said Dobson. “I actually can’t really believe that this sort of sailing was available and I never did it a lot earlier.
“It’s been the most amount of fun and I’m having the best time doing it. It’s been back to being 15 again – I’m just ridiculously excited about going sailing every day and I’m very, very happy I made the decision [to switch].
“I definitely should have bought shares in an Arnica company because I’ve basically been black and blue the whole winter. I’ve had so many capsizes and so many bruises and various injuries. [Team physio] Lily is pretty much my best friend now.
“But it’s been absolutely amazing. I think probably the hardest part has been just having to be standing up all the time.
“Having spent all my sailing life sitting down, using cycling as my fitness, now actually having to run around and be on my feet all the time has presented far more of a challenge than I potentially expected.
“But it’s a lot more fun – the fitness stuff associated with the 49er I certainly enjoy a lot more than the Radial side of things.”
For the Palma event, the first European leg of the 2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup Series running from April 1-6, Dobson will partner Sophie Ainsworth – another member of the eight-strong British Sailing Team FX squad.
Unlike the other classes within the British Sailing Team, the FX squad is currently running a rotation system to test out the best crew combinations – an approach Dobson insists has been rather useful in these early-learning stages.
And with no pressure heading into next week’s opener, Dobson anticipates an exciting start to her new venture and wants to put all the hard winter training to good effect.
“Coming in as a single-handed sailor and now sailing a double-handed boat, I think it’s been really useful for me to sail with lots of different people and actually just learn,” she added.
“Hopefully by the time we finish rotating we’ll be able to make the decisions as to who we sail with based on fact rather than who you’re getting on best with, or circumstance.
“I think it’s just about doing a bit of racing, and putting everything into practice to find out where we’re at, find a baseline, and have something to work from.
“There are definitely no expectations results-wise, we’re very process-oriented, so a capsize in one race won’t be the end of the world. Having said that, it will be quite exciting to get in there and rip it up and hopefully do well.”
© Sportsbeat 2013