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Switching to the 49er FX

Time has passed so quickly recently. We’ve been really busy since the Games so I haven’t really had time to look back on it too much. The fact it’s July already is really scary – it really doesn’t feel like the Games was a year ago.

Obviously we didn’t get the result we wanted at London 2012, and we were really devastated about that. It definitely took us a few months to get over that, and even now I don’t think we’re really over the fact that we didn’t get a medal. But the home crowd and the whole experience was just incredible and you wouldn’t change it for the world. Doing a first Olympics in home waters was incredible – it’s almost hard to describe because it was just so good.

Switching to the 49er FX
Kate Macgregor sailing the 49erFX with Sophie Ainsworth at the Sail for Gold Regatta - © Paul Wyeth/RYA

We couldn’t go to the Opening Ceremony in London due to our racing schedule, but going out onto the beach in Weymouth for our own mini Opening Ceremony, and seeing all the thousands of people on the beach waiting to see us was amazing. None of us knew it was going to be that big – we just thought we were doing a little parade thing, but there were so many people there, we could feel how strong the support was. That was pretty amazing. Even before the Games, when the flame went to Bournemouth beach, we were there with BBC South Today and the crowds were enormous, the beach was absolutely packed and that was almost the start of the journey into the Olympics. Everyone was in such a good mood.

The people on land watching were just incredible – there was one day where we ended up losing two or three races in a row. Luckily it was only in the first round robin so there was still time to pull it back, but we were so down about it. We did our sail-by the crowd and they cheered us and really picked up for the next day where we went out and won three races in a row. That support really helped us prepare ourselves for the next day and showed to us that we were still in it and had to keep going.

Being my first Olympics, it was great that we had so many experienced people in the team – people like Perce, Bart and Ben – trying to help us and give information about their experiences. That was really helpful in the lead up to the Games, but still you never really knew what to expect, especially with it being a home Games. I think it was all very different for them as well. Even for the more experienced people in the team they found it very different to the other Games they had done.

We knew that Match Racing was being removed from the Olympics, but during the Games I just put that to one side and started to think about it afterwards. Back then, I just had to focus on the job in hand. It didn’t matter what was happening the next day after the Olympics, or the next week.

Switching to the 49er FXacra 17
Kate (left) sailing with Annie Lush and sister Lucy at the 2012 Olympic Regatta - © Richard Langdon/British Sailing Team

After the Olympics I had another year of university to do, so I had to go back and complete my last year at Southampton Solent. That was the priority straight after the Games and I then had a little bit of time to think about what boat I wanted to move into. I knew that I wanted to campaign again for Rio and in January I started sailing the 49erFX – I’m really glad I chose that. It’s a great boat and very different to what I’m used to.

Lucy and I are both very short – I think we both assumed that we couldn’t carry on sailing together purely because there wasn’t a boat that was suited for the both of us to sail. If one of us were a bit taller then it might have been a different story but we’re just too small to sail together!

Right at the beginning I took Lucy out on the FX, when I was just learning to sail it – we did a lot of swimming! I haven’t been out on her Nacra yet but I’m looking forward to my first outing on it!

At the beginning of the year the FX was a bit of a challenge as I was taking time out of university to go sailing. When I was in the UK I was focussing fully on uni, so it’s been a bit of a slow start for me in the FX. I’m gradually picking it up though. I haven’t helmed properly since I was 14 – trapezing and helming is a very new experience for me, even just getting back into the simple helming manoeuvres! But I’m looking forward to the summer and focussing completely on sailing and looking forward to our Worlds at the end of September.

We’ve had various bruises and injuries within the squad as we’ve got to grips with the new boats – there have been many comedy moments, usually in the breeze! There was one day in Palma this year which was carnage and we’ve appropriately named Big Wednesday – I think most of the girls have a story about Big Wednesday!

Kate Macgregor
Kate Macgregor - © Paul Wyeth/RYA

I literally can’t wait for Rio – I’ve never been to South America either, so I don’t know what to expect there. The fact it’s only three years away is an exciting thought but a scary thought as well because I’ve got so much to learn before then!








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