Life as a young and up and coming Champion Racer isn’t all plain sailing. CYC Ambassador Steph Orton explains….

2017 started with a new challenge, the Nacra 17 after teaming up with Rio sailor Ben Saxton. Following a rapid induction and training in Cadiz, it was off to Holland for a few days trial in one of the prototype foiling Nacras. Amazing machines, managed a full foiling gybe and got a feel for how much fun and how much there was going to be to learn with these new craft.
Our first major event was a regatta in Palma and then to Hyeres for the Sailing World Cup, where we just missed the podium finishing 4th. Unfortunately due to some height issues I went back to the FX.

Between the bursts of sailing I continued my University studies, this was much harder than expected when spending half my time in
Portugal. My position in the sailing team qualified me for Solent’s High Performance Academy which was great, supporting me with trainers and physios whilst there. They also supported me with negotiating different ways to achieve the necessary 6 week work experience in chunks so I could attend major sailing events.

The summer holidays fitted with the 49erFX events in Europe, and the now regular drives with loaded vans and ribs. The Europeans were in Kiel and then a wavy Worlds in Porto where, sailing with Sophie Weguelin, we achieved 13th and 28th respectively.

2018 was a quieter sailing year as I looked for a new partner. That allowed me more time for my dissertation, but a sad low of leaving uni and not being able to get full time sailing. Instead I focused on fitness and some alternative sailing. Rory Hunter and I managed to borrow a boat for the RS800 Nationals which was great fun, finishing 3rd. Then I teamed up with 3 other girls to complete at the 18 foot skiff Nationals which was great fun despite
having a boat that was a little worse for wear.

In October I formed a new partnership in the 49erFX with Megan Brickwood. Dad laughs as he used to race Larks against her Dad decades ago. We have been training hard ever since, starting in the UK and then moving out to Portugal where the sailing team now go for better wind and sea conditions in the winter, doing a gym session and 2 sailing sessions most days. Megan has a strong background from youth sailing in 420s and 470s, and we are both really excited as we work ahead with the aim of the 2024 Olympics. 2019 looks like a very busy and exciting year. Training is great, but as a new team we need race time, which starts soon with the first event of the year in Palma, followed in May with the
Europeans in Weymouth. After that there is some serious travelling, to Japan for July and August, then Worlds in New Zealand in November and 2020 Worlds in Australia in
January.

We are very grateful to our sponsors, Marine Results for our new boat (Tina), and Marlin Environmental (based in the Marina) and are on a quest to find some more sponsorship for our not so cheap year ahead.

You can follow our journey on facebook (Meg n’ Steph) and also on Instagram (meg_n_steph).