Evans takes his first steps on road to Tokyo
Rockal Evans achieved a milestone in his 2020 Olympic qualifying bid competing in New York this month.
The Bermuda sailor captured a maiden regatta victory in the Finn dinghy at the first attempt competing in the single-handed Olympic class on Cazenovia Lake.
Evans held a share of the lead going into the second and final day of the Finn Toilet Bowl Regatta, hosted by the Willow Bank Yacht Club, but managed to break away and claim top spot.
“This was my first Finn regatta so it was a bit of a guessing game where I was going to place,” Evans said. “There were some good sailors including North American champion, Darrell Peck, who has been sailing the Finn for years.
“I had my eyes on him the first day which ended with the two of us tied for first.”
With no chance of the third placed boat reeling them in, it came down to a classic match race between Evans and Peck for the regatta victory.
“The second day I just went out there focused on covering Darrell,” Evans said.
“I was really focused and sailed strong and smart, making the right decisions at the right time on the racecourse.
“I was consistent throughout the regatta, winning two races out of ten and never finishing outside of the top four, sailing in shifty challenging conditions like in Granaway Deep or St George's Harbour, which I am used to.
“I had a good feeling I would do well, but didn't think I would win my first Finn regatta. It was definitely a big confidence booster.”
The grandson of late Olympic Finn sailor, Howard Lee, followed up his victory with another podium display a week later at the Cork Olympic Classes Regatta in Kingston, Ontario, placing second in a smaller yet formidable fleet.
Evans posted six top three finishes in the ten race series to finish runner up behind Canadian Kyle Martin with Peck rounding off the podium.
“I was surprised with my performance,” Evans said. “I wasn't the fastest upwind, but downwind I was always making up speed and time and passing people.
“To achieve this level of success in the Finn in a short time is amazing and I have to give thanks to my sponsors Digicel Business and BTC for their wonderful support.”
Evans took delivery of the only Finn dinghy on island last winter and more recently picked up vital pointers from the world's elite attending a month-long sailing camp in Valencia, Spain for the second straight year.
“The training camp in Valencia went well,” he said. “All the guys at the training camp where training for Rio and I was training in the gym and on the water with all of those guys.
“They were all at peak performance in their training so to actually chase them on the racecourse and see what they are doing in the gym gave me an idea of how hard I have to work to get to that level.”