Red Bull 49erFX: Getting into the World Cup Hyeres

Alex Maloney and Molly Meech at the head of the 49erFX - 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup, Hyeres, France
Red Bull 49erFX team of Molly Meech and Alex Maloney report ahead of the ISAF World Sailing Cup Hyeres


A week on tour disappears so quickly. Here in Hyeres, France, we have got back into our on and off the water routines, and settled into being in another new location. Life in Hyeres goes by at a different pace - we are enjoying the laid back atmosphere of this sleepy little seaside town compared to Palma’s main tourist strip. There is a slower, safer feel here, which both of us are appreciating.

Our first day of training with the French girls, Julie and Sarah went well. The changing conditions kept us thinking and constantly tuning the boat and rig. We launched in 20 knots, and finished the day crouching in super-light wind. It was a good day, both teams pushed each other hard, and we were looking forward to the rest of the week.

Since we hadn’t had a full break since our last regatta, we have been careful not to overdo the training. Our goal is to be in sync and on form for the first day of the event, but with plenty of fuel in the tank.

With this in mind, we had planned to take Wednesday off, and rejoin with the French girls the next day. While we were out and about that day, we noticed the breeze had kicked in quite nicely and that a lot of the skiffs were coming in with sails down. That is always a clear sign that things have got on the more hectic side.

That evening we were pretty sad to receive an email from the French that they were unable to train with us for the rest of the week, as Sarah had sprained her ankle badly. She had got stuck in the foot strap and they wanted to give it as much time as possible to heal before the start of the event.

For those newer to the skiff sailing lingo, let us explain the whole tricky business of foot straps. They are strong loops on the end of both our wings, which we secure our feet in while sailing downwind in moderate to windy conditions, similar to those on windsurfers. They are saviours, without them we would be nose diving and slipping forward constantly, yet at the same time they can be our very worst nightmare. If things go bad suddenly, many girls have been the victims of bad ankle injuries as they are unable to get their feet out in time.

All sports have their scary aspects, and during a bad capsize, getting your foot stuck would be up there for FX sailors. Fortunately, touch wood, we haven’t had a close call....but we fully sympathize with the French, as we understand it could happen to anyone. Sadly, Julie told us that they are out for this event. On the bright side - her ankle is likely to heal quickly, so we are sure they will be back at the next FX event!

For the rest of the training week, we joined in with our Brazilian friends, and later the rest of the fleet for some practise racing. We really enjoyed getting our heads back into racing and it is great to see how open the FX fleet is to training with one another. We must say that Javi, the Brazilian coach, makes an excellent race officer!!

Saturday off from sailing was a pretty cruisy day, doing whatever our hearts desired. It is amazing, the concept of time seems to change on days off. In New Zealand, even on a rest day there are still usually things to get done, meetings to attend. When you’re overseas as an athlete, one of the main things to appreciate, is that you can focus more on the business side of your sport. Your only real responsibilities are fitness, sailing, and making sure your boat is in tip top condition. Having less things to cram into one day is very refreshing!

So on our last rest day in Hyeres before the competition started, Molly was a domestic goddess making cupcakes for her someone special’s birthday, chipping away at Uni work, and checking out the old town. Alex doesn’t exactly recall where her day went, getting a little lost in time. Yoga in the sun, biking to a new beach, and taking an afternoon siesta with a good book were all mixed into the day. As cheesy as it sounds, finding the simple pleasures is sometimes easier, when away from the hectic side of being back home.

While it is nice to be away competing, there is still no place better than New Zealand. It is awesome being on the road, but you do tend to miss some homely comforts. Whether it is a quiet coffee with friends, a bear hug from your parents, or most especially, your own bed. However the odd spring, digging into your back at night, is a small price to pay for the great adventures of Europe and sailing experiences we get overseas competing.

So after a week of fitness, sailing, and a bit of relaxing, we are feeling good going into this event. Starting fresh, we are looking forward to putting some of our key learning into practise. The forecast is looking like there will be a range of conditions, so it will be a perfect week to get some good racing experience under the belt. Ready to rock and roll!


Follow our progress here during the Hyeres ISAF World Cup event.