My Name is Luke Elliott although everyone I know calls me Swifto. I am a country born sailor who spent the first 17 ½ years of my life living in the small town of Esperance in south east Western Australia. I began sailing when my dad signed me up for a learn to sail course when I was 12 and I hated every minute of it, but for some reason I continued to hang around the yacht club throughout my first summer. Most of it was spent watching from the coach boat until at the end of that season my dad hired me a club boat. After that I don’t think I looked back. I was continually on the lookout for the next level of competition I could find.
Dad & I would make the 8 hour drive to Perth almost every month to do small local regattas and get as much coaching in as possible. By the time I was 15 I knew what I wanted to sail. The Laser had proved itself as the purest and most competitive form of sailing available and before long my parents had bought me a new one. Unfortunately Esperance didn’t have a Laser fleet or anyone who really knew how to sail them so it quickly became a pretty lonely way for me to sail. I was out on the water nearly every day and with the continued trips to Perth and the help of the friends I made along the way I began to learn.
I went from getting 18th in my first Radial states to 3rd the very next year. I did 3 nationals in my time in the Radial and saw myself go from 52nd in 2008 to 13th in 2009 to eventually 10th in 2010. After a disappointing 2010 nationals but a successful time in the Radial in total I knew it was time to change. By now I knew without a doubt that I wanted to go to the Olympics and I was going to try everything in my power to get there.
I moved out of my parents’ house at 17 to get to Perth where preparations were already in full swing for the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships. I also moved into the Olympic Laser class the Full rig and placed 3rd at my first competition in the class, the 2011 state championships. Things kept moving quickly after that. I went to France with my training partner Ki-Raphael in July for the 2011 Under 21 World Titles and placed 6th and was 2nd overall in the under 19 category. Painfully I lost the U19 world title on a count back, but this only made me hungrier to try and succeed. When I got back I immediately started my Certificate III in Fitness at Central TAFE and began training with the huge amount of international Laser sailors that were in town for the worlds. By the end of 2011 I had completed my certificate III and had placed 12th at my first Full rig national titles.
I then graduated in mid 2012 with my certificate IV in Personal Training as top of my class and pretty much went straight into full time training. I spent the rest of the year preparing for the nationals and doing a lot of coaching to save money. I finished 7th in the Hobart nationals which was a satisfying improvement from 2012 and felt ready to begin my first European campaign.
I spent over 6 months on the road in 2013. I spent 2 months in France, Italy and Holland competing in World Cup and Eurosaf championships before flying home for a break. I then spent another 6 weeks in Europe in Germany, Hungary and England competing in a mix of Europa cup, U21 world championships and British Laser Nationals. Not long after that I was flying to the middle east to compete in my very first Open Laser World Championships. Oman was an interesting country unlike any other I had been to. I had a great time and had a solid result in the end. This was swiftly followed by Sail Melbourne and the Nationals where I finished 4th. Slowly going up.
Now I’m on my way to Europe in early 2014 as a member of the Australian Laser Squad and will again be spending many months over seas. Not just this year but hopefully many into the future. I hope you enjoy following my progress as I try and represent Australia at the Olympic games….
As an update, the year is now 2018 and I’m still here and have been competing full time since 2013. The improvements have been steady but its a true grind and I’ve learnt a lot about myself since 2013. I’m still here and still loving it, that’s the most important thing.