George – Hi Malc, firstly let me congratulate you and the team on your recent gold medal at the world championships, has it sunk in yet?
Malcolm – Thanks George, it is awesome and it has not quite sunk in yet it was a huge thing these young men did and it was fantastic to be part of their team .
George – I believe you stepped in at the last-minute to manage the lads, was it something you always wanted to do?
Malcolm – Yes I did step in more or less at the last-minute, it wasn't by design, or anything that I had ever considered before but I knew they were a good team, I have fished with and against most ofthem since they were juniors and had my butt kicked by them far to often than I care to mention. It would have been a real shame for them and Team England if they were not able to go because they had no manager so I decided to apply for the job, now I am being asked if I would do it next year! It is a really fantastic job I believe you get out what you put in and the team responds I am not that good with computers and I had a fair bit of help with checking flights and other logistical things but it got done, it was a great experience, it has been like fulfilling an extra dream.
George – During the preparations did you honestly feel you had a shot at becoming world champions?
Malcolm – It was always clear to me that the team was a great team, a team that stood a real chance of winning the championship, it was all about getting there and having enough time to do all the work required.
George – Can you tell me about the teams preparations and the practice sessions?
Malcolm – The teams preparation was for most part installing in them to work as a team, share all information and talk to each other as much as possible we only had time to fit in two meetings the first one it was almost decision time as to whether they wanted to go or not because there was a few problems with bait for private practice sessions also not much time to practice in any case and getting enough tackle there was also a big issue. literally a day before the meeting there was a few rays of hope that made it definite we were going so let's get on with it! We had a few ideas as to what tactics we would try, and we arranged for another meeting in which we included a casting day .. by the time we had the second meeting there was only a few weeks to go and it was do or die, with the tackle we kept clothes to a minimum and concentrated the baggage allowance on tackle we were still struggling on the bait front but the dutch manager came to our rescue with that hitch sorted all was looking good. It was all about maximising the few hours we would have to practice the beaches once we arrived … the casting was a very useful exercise for me as it was both team building and it gave all the anglers an idea of what every one was capable of, they were all hitting good distances with probably only 25 paces between the best and worst 190 was the worst and 215 the best (i did proper paces not steps)
When we arrived we got settled into the rooms and got ready for the next days first crack at the local fish stocks it was ok but not as big or plentiful as we had hoped but nevertheless good fishing and they had plenty to write down on their practice cards. Jake, as reserve, was fishing with all the anglers in turn so as to get a feel for the tackle that they had and were using just in case he would have to step in at any point , after a meeting and discussion of what tactics were used and what fish were caught i introduced a more structured practice for the next day in which they were all given different jobs based around which were the best methods the day before and other ideas that from previous experience may have worked. They were again asked to record everything they caught each hour once this done and all the info was calculated it would give us a game plan which we discussed at the next team meeting.
George – So what happened on the first day of the competition?
Malcolm – The first day was not a great result which led to some long faces at the team meeting afterwards but with the results in hand it was very clear that it was not the tactics it was purely a case of just one more fish each and we could have finished in at least third or second , someone missed out by 2 grams others just one 15 cm fish could have put them at least 2 places higher in their sections, so frustrating but encouraging and positive and it was clear we would need a good second day .
George – So how did that second day pan out? Any better?
Malcolm – The second day things went our way a bit and we managed a second which moved us into third overall with 2 days to go but the spanish were so consistent at this stage with another day win . the team meeting was a much happier one as it meant we were back in contention of a medal , it was also clear that although in general the tactics were working well but we were just missing out on the numbers of mullet. Jake said at the meeting that they were doing something that we had not seen we talked about mullet and their habits back home and what mullet we had caught were caught on with this info Jake had suggested him and i went fishing to check out what we discussed we went to the tackle shop to get bait and have a go. In the shop we had hoped to find some white hard pop ups but nothing was available except for rig winders that was made of hard eva style white foam which we could cut up if needed , we caught a fair number of fish but Jake caught the only mullet but it had taken a pop up that we weren't all using, this turned out to be probably the most important fish any one had caught a few minutes discussion with the team and an addition to the format was born!
George – Great stuff, adapting to the surroundings and conditions is what makes you guys at the top a cut above the rest, so did what you had discovered make a difference on day three?
George – Day 3 was a day win for team England and yes it was the pop up that made the difference with the mullet. What a result! Spain had blown out, we had moved up into joint second with a 2 point difference from the leaders, the team talk was now about having a really strong chance of not just winning a medal but a realistic chance of gold. Ollie was also aware that he had a chance at an individual medal too , i told them to leave nothing to chance, change all their reel lines use all new rigs change hooks more often than they had been , and jake and I would do our best to keep as much info coming and as soon as the mullet showed we would be on the case and they would know as quick as we could get to them.
George – Truly awesome stuff Malc, what dreams are made of, so the final day, talk us through it….
Malcolm – Breakfast was quiet and nervy, it was great to see them like this, they were so up for it all week but had struggled to get a good result from zone A and zone E, Callum was in A and Dan was in E. I had a chat with them both and we went through the game plan again, in zone A we decided it was to cast at the start but to wind it back half way after a few minutes and also to stop again at the edge on retrieving where the 1 point fish were relatively easy to get to build a score as the one pointers in this section were where we had lost out on as there were not many sizeable fish in this section. The best we had in E section was a fifth place that was mainly due to missing out on the few mullet that were caught at that end of the beach … at the start Ben was into the fish straight away catching good-sized bream and a decent fish that i cant remember the name of but it was a good 400g, Callum had a sizeable fish in A zone early in the match. The others were doing ok but not what we needed. Going into the third hour we were doing ok but it was not easy to see how we were doing, it was so close in the zones except for ben who was flying and dan who was in last place but with most fish. Then Ollie and Ben started to find mullet, this was it here we go, Jake and i began running as fast as possible between our sections, I got to Dan and he still had not caught mullet but nor had any one else in his section, so i got him to do a long cast with a pop up on one hook and wind it back then stop at the close gully to keep catching the 1 pointers and maybe he would catch a sizeable one by covering more ground, but the Spanish lad landed a mullet. Then Dan next cast with a full on pop up rig he also had a mullet then a double shot, he was in front but it was close with the Spanish lad who had another that was a good-sized fish, but Dan kept catching, losing 2 fish at the edge too. Ollie had caught more as had Ben, Toby was catching, but it was too close to call. Callum had more fish, the rocket went up, that was the end. Day win again, it was not clear at first but i knew we had done enough for a medal, I did not think it would be gold. The results took ages and there had been a problem with the scoring earlier in the week that we were informed would probably not be in our favour but it turned out to be! ENGLAND GOLD! and OLLIE HOPKINS WORLD CHAMPION! Absolutely amazing, and, no it has not really sunk in yet in answer to your first question!
George – A truly fantastic achievement, I can't imagine how it must feel for both the team and for Ollie! What rods did the lads use out there?
Malcolm – Most of the team were using Vercelli rods apart from Ben who was on colmics. Ollie and Dan were using the Vercelli Enygma Fabula LC. Toby used the new white one, the Vercelli Spyra Alba, and Callum used a customised lime green coloured Vercelli Spyra Ultima G3. Ben used the Colmic 5m 150g zero 7 and a 250g zero 7.
George – Obviously it's great to hear most of the teams were using rods supplied by us (I need to have a word with that BEN!! :)). Did you use any other of our products out there?
George – Awesome! Anything else you want to add Malc?
Malcolm – I would just like to thank all the people who helped me sort out the trip in the beginning, Chris Clark , Sandra Drew and Pete Harrison. Dave Graham and Tom Bagnall at Christchurch Angling Centre for tackle support in the form of a tackle bag worth £120 for each of the team. Stuart Withyman for a £100 donation, Roger Hill for paying for the flights, and Henri the dutch manager, for all his help sorting bait. It was also a well organised championship so thanks to the Spanish Federation as well.
George – Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Malc, and once again congratulations, a magnificent achievement!
Malcolm – It's never a problem George, you are always one of the first to help out where needed. Cheers it was a magnificent achievement by a great team!