KSSA Promoting Youth Sailing in Kent
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Sailwave
 
Hi, I have just returned from Takapuna in New Zealand where I have competed in the Laser Radial World Ladies and Youth Girls Championships.

This was two very competitive weeks of sailing. My aim was to use the first week of the Ladies Worlds, where there were 116 boats competing, to get used to the venue and get back to international competition, also to particularly work on my starting technique which is very important in big strong fleets. This was to assist me in achieving my main goal of being the first GBR Youth Girl in the second week and qualifying to be selected to represent GBR at the International Sailing Federation Sailing Championships (ISAFs) in Denmark in July.

I was a bit low in confidence going into this event and decided to just try my best and have fun. The competition was very tough as it included all the Olympic Ladies from competitive countries. The wind was predominantly light throughout the week which is my preferred wind strength.

For the first three days, the racing comprised of a qualifying series with the fleet divided into two based on the previous days results. From day four the top half sailed in the Gold Fleet with the remainder in the Silver Fleet. I qualified just below halfway down the fleet so was placed in the Silver Fleet. On the positive side this was good since sailing in the Silver Fleet would be very similar to the competition levels the following week.

Through the week my results slowly improved and my confidence grew. My highlights were finishing 5th in one of the qualifying faces where I beat all the other GBR Ladies and 4th overall in the Silver Fleet beating two GBR sailors in the GBR Olympic Development Squad.

During the break between the events I took time off for site seeing. We visited the island Ranitoto, a volcanic island adjacent to the sailing area and a thermal area in central North Island.

I was very nervous going into Youth Championships, I wanted my goal so much, I knew if I thought about it too much it may start to affect my decision making. I had to try and forget about it and the other GBR sailors. I decided to focus my attention on my process goals i.e. making good starts and doing well up the first beat. I took great confidence from the Women’s Championships the previous week, especially my speed downwind. I knew even if I was having a bad race this would assist me in catching back up a lot of boats.

I was fortunate that there were light winds the first day. However I made a poor start in the first race and had to play catch up the entire race. In the second race I was penalised on the first beat for excessive adjustment of the sail, this left me at 32nd out of the 36 boats at the first mark. Despite this I managed to finish with two sixths and be top GBR Youth Girl at the end of day 1.

From day 2 my early morning look out of the bedroom window confirmed my worst fears, the weather had changed and the wind increased to predominantly over 17 knots. This favoured my heavier rivals. I hung in there and even managed a 3rd in one race when the wind dropped on the Wednesday afternoon.

On the last day I was three points ahead of the next GBR boat behind me. We had two races scheduled. In the first race she beat me by three places making us joint on points; everything came down to the last race.

I got a good start and worked as hard as I possibly could on the first beat, my legs hurt so much. My GBR rival was just in front but with my downwind speed I passed her and got a fair distance ahead of her. I kept this for the rest of the race and beat her by two points overall.

With this result I have now been selected to represent GBR at the ISAF Youth Championships in Denmark this July.



Downwind sailing



Mark rounding on a windy day Photo by Will Calver



Team GBR waiting for wind the first week



Launching off the beach in light weather



Inspecting smoking and bubbling mud on a day off



More colourful smoking mud in a thermal area.



The race course with the volcano in the background



Looking down to the race area from the volcano on a day off