/kənˈtɪnjʊəns/ noun FORMAL the state of remaining in existence or operation. "his interests encouraged him to favour the continuance of war"
“If in doubt, don’t tack”
One of Stewart Walkers golden rules of racing and one that guided me through my choices off the water as well. I had been having a tough time deciding what the future would hold for me after the 2019 season had ended but this simple idea ended up having a big influence. I’ve been living for the last seven years what my dream was as a teenager, and even though it has its challenges and differences to what I might have imagined it would be like, it is ultimately exactly what I asked for. ‘Tacking’ away from my Laser sailing would be walking away from my Olympic dream after so much struggle to get to this position in the first place. Once made, the decision to continue has been a simple one and has given my life clarity again. The last few months have been some of the most enjoyable of my sailing career, and now, on the cusp of doing my 8th Laser World Championships, and first in Australian waters, I couldn’t be more excited.
Staying true to this blog though, I’ll keep it chronological and go back to where I left off in September:
After I had decided to continue in the Laser, I had to start thinking about how I was going to do it? I didn’t want to fall into the same traps as I had in the past, I wanted to do it a bit different this time, using the experience I had gained from the past 10 + years of competing. The aim was simplicity and enjoyment.
Perth: After Esperance I went back to Perth and found myself with time on my hands for once. Out of habit or maybe because I truly wanted to, I started going to training at FSC again, just like I used to when I first moved to Perth. I wasn’t really thinking too far ahead with it, I was just doing it and found myself really falling in love with the sport again.
Sydney: Whether I was ready or not, the last two weeks of October was spent at Middle Harbor Yacht Club training with Matt and Finn. It had a very different feel to it with there only being three of us there, but none the less it was a productive camp. The strength was starting to come back and the feel in the boat was getting better.
Perth: Back West again for two weeks. I used this time to continue my training from Sydney. My fitness and boat feel were way off what I wanted and this was a great chance to improve those things in the best training ground in the world. Also, Perth in summer time is just the best place to be, sailing or not.
Melbourne: Starting to get real now. The last two weeks of November was spent training at Sandringham with some of the worlds best. We had almost 30 boats which consisted of the Scandinavians, Kiwis and some European and American teams. 5 days of training was backed up by the Victorian State Championships, where I finished 9th with a confidence boosting win on the last race. That was then followed by a brutal four-day coaches regatta, mostly in strong winds and with long days. Great conditioning but once again, I was feeling my fitness still wasn’t in place yet.
Perth (Again!!): Returning to Perth was signing off on a solid six-week block of training. It was time for a rest from the Laser and to enjoy some much-needed therapy (time on the golf course). The Moth World Championships were in Perth as well so it was a great chance to catch up with friends and watch some of the best foilers around do their thing. I couldn’t just take the whole month of December off though so I made sure I got another five-day block in, just to top up the tank before I checked out for Christmas. It was getting close to business time now.
Esperance: Now was time for some much-needed family time. It would be the first Elliott Christmas with myself and two sisters there in ten years, so safe to say it was a special time. I even got out on a Laser, (sorry fam), but for a different kind of training. This was more of a nostalgic throwback to my high school days when I used to sail around the bay for hours on end by myself. Plus, the seabreezes in Esperance are epic and it’d be a shame to waste such a good opportunity to get out there. I obviously also got plenty of golf in and made some new friends while at it. It was a great holiday and just what I needed.
The Nullarbor: Now was my time to drive back to Melbourne (so much back and forth this summer!!). I had my car loaded with my toys and I set out for the three-day journey across the country. I’ve done the drive two times before but this was my first alone. Not that that’s much of a problem for me, I like road trips, they help clear my head. I was sleeping rough as well with my sleeping bag and camp bed wherever I decided to pull up which added to the experience. I even managed to play a couple of holes worth of the Nullarbor Golf Links, the worlds longest golf course.
Australian Laser Nationals: Finally!! The racing. Months of prepping and planning and thinking had finally come to a head and it was time to see where I was at. We had the strongest nationals’ fleet in recent memory competing with 70 sailors lining up at the start, including the kiwis, Americans and Dutch teams. I started with a 16th and 25th ☹ funny old game. This was not the start I was hoping for. Fortunately, I was able to adjust quickly and got on a run over the next 7 races to move through the fleet into 4th going into the final day. It was tight, and there was a chance to move up or down on the scoreboard but unfortunately, I made the worst of it and fell to 8th. I didn’t have a disastrous day so much, but my close competition had much better days and that made all the difference. Still, I managed to take some confidence away from the event and felt good about the next one to come.
Sail Melbourne: After a few easier days of training and some time spent with friends (I was living with Jez and Eliza for a week) it was time to race again. It took a good few days to feel fully recovered after the Nationals so I only spent two days in the boat before the event started but my mind felt ready to pick up where I left off. The fleet was about 70 strong again but much deeper in competition with the British, Scandinavian, French and other various European teams representing. It would be a real test of what the worlds would be like in a couple weeks time. I got off to a hot start, leading around the top mark in race one and finished with a 5th in challenging conditions. The next day of racing wasn’t as successful but some great comebacks and a good attitude kept me in the game to move up later with a 18, 3, 19. The conditions became quite tough for the race committee after that with us only getting another three races in for the event. My consistency was paying off though, banking a 2, 10 the next two races pulled me up into 6th with a chance to move up or down again on the last day, just like at nationals. This time I held my nerve and put another solid score on the board with an 11th, which was enough to jump to 3rd overall with my competition all having bad races. I was stoked to be on the podium in such a tough event and it was a good confidence booster in the last event before the worlds.
Perth (Again, again!!): Time to have a break from Melbourne and refresh. I only had ten days back west but I needed them. The weather was gorgeous and sunny and I was home at the perfect time to watch the Warren Jones Regatta being hosted right in front of the city. The thought of the worlds being only a few days away was never far from my mind.
Melbourne (the last dance): I returned fresh and ready to race. I’ve completed three days on the water and I can honestly say I’ve never felt so good. Not just in speed but in my attitude and decision making. Maybe the event will be a flop but it won’t be from a lack of effort and preparation. I’m very excited to see how things play out.
See you on the other side,