By Jonathan Tuite
This year I was chosen to be in the Australian Optimist Development Squad, otherwise known as the AODS, which had 5 under 12 boys and 3 under 12 girls and a coach Alison Dale. To get into the team you had to be chosen as one of the top under 12s in Australia. Being a part of the team you had to go to different regattas and training camps which included the AOST/AODS training camp in Adelaide, a training camp in Queensland which led to the Queensland Youth Week and do a training camp in Noumea before the New Caledonian Nationals. This will be a diary of me going to the New Caledonian Nationals and a training camp held in Noumea.
9/10/16 – First training day
The day started off light when the group got on the water. We started training with doing some up winds and down winds with Alison coaching. After training we went in for lunch and soon after we went out and did training races against the local and New Zealander teams. The racing had light winds and I was happy with my results. That night we had a team dinner and debrief.
The day started out very light with big swell caused by the storm which had been and passed in the night. When the group got out we did some up winds and down winds but mainly focused on the top mark roundings. After lunch everyone went out racing with a lot more wind. My first race was good but then in the second race my mainsheet block broke and undid itself from the deck. Alison tried fixing it but in the end I had to retire. Luckily it was only a training day.
Today we continued training and racing together with the other forty sailors. In the evening the local club had organised an opening ceremony for all regatta participants. Everyone enjoyed getting to know each other over pizza and drinks. Our team brought along a blow-up kangaroo and an Australian flag to represent our country.
Today was the lay-day before the racing started. The group went snorkelling off an island not far from our hotel and I saw a turtle, many colourful fish and coral. I enjoyed swimming with my friends along the snorkelling trails. That night we all went to a burger restaurant which was across from a local market. After finishing we visited the market to buy some fruit and saw a performance of a native drumming group.
The first day of racing started after lunch with lots of wind. In the early races I didn’t do too well because of my starts but I managed to catch up a bit. In my third race I did well with a better start and good upwind sailing. After racing the team enjoyed a swim at the hotel pool and a quiet dinner in our rooms.
The day started off with a long ocean race where everyone had to go around the islands. I did well in the light and shifty weather and enjoyed the scenery, but had to be careful of the shallow parts with rocks and sand. After lunch we had two short races and I did very well with getting good starts.
Today was a tough day for all concerned. It was very windy and we did six races, with lunch on shore in between. I found the windy weather quite challenging and got very tired towards the end. However, even if my results weren’t the best, I felt I learnt a lot and will benefit from the experience in windy conditions in the future.
The day started off windier than the day before. After a good rest I felt ready to try out lessons learnt the day before. I was pleased with my results and was happy to finish the regatta on a high. Racing finished early, so we had time to unpack our boats and head to the closing ceremony. Our whole team had enjoyed the experience with great racing and new friendships. We signed a team T-shirt and the kangaroo and left them as a gift to the hosting club.
Overall, the regatta was an amazing experience and I would like to thank RPAYC for their support. I learnt new things, particularly about windy conditions, made many new friends and am more motivated than ever to keep training. I look forward to seeing many of my friends at the Optimist Nationals in Adelaide in January.