What an experience Canada was. A trip filled with learning, hard racing and good times.
As we arrived in Kingston I was filled with excitement and some expected nerves as it was my first international regatta. After meeting all the kids on the Aussie team, I settled in and felt more comfortable as they were all so outgoing and friendly. Setting up the charter was a breeze and within no time I was out there with the team training hard to gather as much information about the venue as I could. The conditions varied but was, for the majority of the time, a light 8 knot thermal breeze which was highly shifty and unpredictable. It was great because we were able to do practice races with some other countries such as Singapore, Italy, Hungary and Switzerland giving me the opportunity to race against new athletes.
After the 5 days of training we had 2 rest days where the team went for a walk to the pier, went to get lunch and did more team bonding. At the end of the rest days we had the opening ceremony. It was such a surreal feeling wearing the Australian gear, representing my country and my club RPAYC. The opening ceremony was great as our gear was highly desired by the athletes from other countries (especially the inflatable kangaroos!) so we were able to meet more new people and the whole night was so much fun.
The next morning was racing. Day 1 was considerably light air, gusting to 7 knots. The race committee sent us out and managed to start a race. I was in the lead until they abandoned racing because of the lack of wind which left me disappointed but impressed with my performance. The race committee ended up sending us in meaning no racing day 1.
Day 2 rolled around and that morning I was eager to head out as there was a 15 knot sea breeze forecast which ended up being 20 gusting 25 knots. This was my favourite day of racing as the heavy wind made the racing fitness based. Especially because the race committee decided on 3 races to make up for no racing on day 1. Whoever got fatigued the least was getting good results. My results for the day were a 21, 19 and 18 which I was thrilled with. These results put me in 36th after day 2. All the hard work with Tana at Sail Fit really paid off!
Day 3 had me waking up a bit sore in the legs from the prior windy day but confident as another moderate sea breeze was forecast. I headed out with the goal of gold fleet as it was the last day of qualifiers. I unfortunately acquired my first yellow flag of the regatta in the first race resulting in me losing many spots. Race 2 had me rounding the top mark in 3rd place and once again I received a second yellow flag meaning I had to retire from the race. This left me nervous for race 3 because I required a decent result to reach my gold fleet goal. I spent the time I had sitting out of race 2 studying and training to increase my odds in race 3. I ended up getting a 35th which put me in 50th after day 3. I was very excited to know that I had made the gold fleet and would be racing in the top half of the fleet for the finals.
Day 4 was the first day of gold fleet. My major goal for the regatta had already been achieved but I believed in myself and thought that I could climb higher up gold fleet. Today was a light thermal breeze which later in the day became a moderate sea breeze. You could quite clearly tell the difference between the mixed fleet and gold fleet. A tough day left me with a 56th and 58th which dropped me to 56th overall.
Day 5 was speculated to be the last day of racing as the next day was predicted to have little to no wind. I knew that today was probably my last chance to prove myself in gold fleet. Fortunately, we had another windy sea breeze which I enjoyed sailing in. I managed to improve my results from the day before and was thrilled with 2 mid fleet results. My day 5 results where a 34th, 50th and 37th and pushed me up to 53rd overall.
The forecast proved to be accurate for day 6 and no races where commenced.
I was over the moon with my results from Canada. I also had many new experiences like starting on a large start line and learning new weather information from our coach Ben Walkemeyer which will benefit me immensely in the future. From here I need to train on my upwind and downwind speed and my technique on the downwind legs as they were the areas that I can make some gains.
By Oliver Gordon