29er class around Europe in the European Championships, Youth World Championships, and World Championships

On the 24/6/2022 Markus Sampson and I left Australia to compete in the 29er class around Europe in the European Championships, Youth World Championships, and World Championships. (Sorry for the delay with the report but I had to do my HSC) We were very excited to race against the best in the world and represent Australia. We had trained and prepared extremely well prior to leaving with many months of long days of training and large support from lots of people including RPAYC members Traks Gordon and Pat Langley (Vaikobi).

Harry Morton was our coach for the trip for the Europeans and Worlds and our Dad’s and Mums also supported us along the way.

The European Championships were held in Denmark at Copenhagen. The regatta had very light conditions with only one day above 12 knots and extremely shifty wind due to our race course being close to land. We found it hard in these conditions as we had grown over 10 kilograms combined in the months leading up to the regattas which put us well above the target weight for the class. Despite this we managed to finish 10th out of 165 boats. Although this was not what we had been hoping for it put us in a good position to go well in the main regattas in the coming weeks. Major learnings included being aggressive at the starts for the favoured end and the importance of teamwork for a campaign.

Our second regatta in Europe was the Youth World Championships in The Hague Netherlands. There was a big leadup to this regatta with the Youth Nationals in Melbourne being the qualifying regatta. The Youth Worlds was an amazing experience for us with a very enclosed environment, we stayed in dorms with the other sailors and were only able to see our coaches and teammates for the duration of the regatta. We were very happy with the week’s preparation before the regatta where we had to set up a boat from scratch and could only train at certain times. It was very important for us to set up the boat very similar to our boat in Sydney so we could reduce distractions and sail our best, we also had to be aware that we were sharing a boat with Sienna and Darcy also from RPAYC. We both managed that well with good communication and even tried new things on the boat that worked better. Things were looking good when we won the practice race convincingly in 15 to 20 knots against all of the teams. Unfortunately with the heatwave in Europe the regatta ended up being very light with very large chop. This was also combined with 2 knots of tide. We ended up coming 15th which was also disappointing considering the preparation we had. We did take some great learnings out of this regatta including dealing with current, adapting setup as you grow, the importance of some honest conversations when assessing your performance and being part of an Australian team which was a great honour. The closing ceremony was so much fun and we met so many amazing people.

Despite taking a few tough regatta’s on the chin Markus and I flew to Spain with a strong belief that we could mix it with the best in the World and the fact we are a great team! We managed to a have a bit of time off in Spain where we toured around with Markus Uncle who lived nearby. This was amazing.
The World Championships was our final regatta for our international campaign. It was located in Spain, Barcelona with 242 boats from all around the world. We had previously been to Barcelona at the start of the year in the aim to get local knowledge and measure ourselves against international teams. We placed 5th out of 110 for this Eurocup regatta and it prepared us massively for the World Championships. We were placed very well going into this regatta and had the goal of getting a top 10 spot. We were able to do quite a lot of training prior but unfortunately with the heatwave the breeze struggled to blow. We had one training session of 15 knots but otherwise the regatta was sailed in 5 to 10 knots with once again very large chop. Markus and I had the aim of embracing the heat and the lack of breeze and to focus on just getting better each day. Despite the positive attitude and fantastic preparation we ended up coming 75th out of the 242 boats. Although we were not happy with the result we were really proud of our resilience and ability to stay positive.
Our time in the 29er had been a great success. We started 2 years prior with Markus coming straight out of Optis at the age of 13 and myself having just won the 420 Nationals but being stopped from travelling overseas by Covid. We slowly but surely worked our back sides off with the aim of getting to a 29er Worlds and Youth Worlds. Our hard work paid off when we won every 29er regatta across the summer against the best in the country including Sail Sydney, Sail Melbourne, Interdominions and the Youth World Selection trials. We had great preparation with a 5th in the Eurocup and a 10th in The Europeans. Unfortunately or fortunately we both had massive growth spurts. The beauty of this is that has now allowed us to take on new paths with myself in the 49er and Markus in the Laser. All of the lessons gained will help us so much with our future sailing with the most important lesson being that even when things do not go your way sailing is such a great sport where you meet great people and have amazing experiences.
Stay tuned for Markus and my future sailing experiences and thankyou for all of the support.

Photo from the Youth Worlds and Photo’s from the Eurocup in Feb 2022