Expected, but not planned…

After my extended time in Sydney (nearly 3 months straight) it was time to round off the trip with some racing in a different venue. Swansea is a small community on the ocean side of Lake Macquarie, just south of Newcastle where we decided to run a mini regatta with as many boats as we could muster. We had all of the squad and the full attendance of the futures program and the NZL laser boys which made a total of 12 of the best boats in the southern hemisphere on the start line. The venue was predicted to give us lots of swell and some lumpy onshore winds. However, the forecast had another plan. We got all the swell but mixed with some very shifty offshore conditions which kept the swell coming from behind most of the event. I must say it was one of my worst weeks of sailing of my life. Not just from a performance standpoint but from a mental perspective. I was so burnt out from all the training in Sydney and a strong lack of purpose hung with me for that week. I hated the sailing and just wanted to go home more than anything, thoughts of quitting even crossed my mind. It was that bad. Sometimes sport and send you down a bad spiral and it takes stopping for a while to shake it off and start anew.

Fortunately, after that event I did manage to get a flight home after a brief scare that a few covid cases in Perth might holt my chance of leaving. The time was spent seeing my team at WAIS and having a few heart to hearts with Belinda about the road ahead. The time home was most important to me and allowed me to change my mindset for the coming training camps in Queensland. Changing my attitude towards something is always in my control, sometimes it just takes a bit of help from others to put me on the right path again.

Boat park rigging in Mooloolabar

My next stop was the Sunshine Coast for the start of our tour through Queensland, a choice we had made to seek out the most relevant conditions for Japan and warmer weather. We had done a block of training last year in Mbar and knew it was a good venue to train from. Luckily for me Elyse had a family friend that could lend us their apartment for out time there so we had stunning views of the water and easy access to the boat from out accommodation. The camp was a success with a great variety of wind and my new attitude, I definitely feel I made the most of my time during this camp. Once it was over, rather than travel all the way back to WA, Elyse and I decided to stay on for the 10 days between our next camp in Yeppoon, a town about 9 hours drive north of the Sunshine Coast. We spent our time cycling and exploring the beautiful sunny coast, arguably one of my favorite places in Australia.

Racing in front of the iconic Point Cartwright water tank
Keppel Island

When our time in Mooloolabar was done we packed up the car and trailer and started our journey further north. It was quite and adventurous rode with lot’s if twists and turns, not the easiest driving with such a big rig. We made it safe and happy though, meeting Zac and Stefan at the Airbnb we had booked around 10pm that night! None of the team had ever been to Yeppoon before and I think we were all pretty impressed with the conditions it provided for us. The swell and waves were fun and the cycling through the cattle country was really scenic. A highlight for me was our day off when we took the rib offshore to Keppel Island for the day. The Island itself was beautiful and this being the southern most tip of the barrier reef it had some reef to snorkel! We had a magic day swimming with turtles and rays and walking on deserted beaches. All to soon this 6-week trip had come to an end and it was time to go home to refresh.

When I got home, I went straight into a coaching clinic for the weekend with the WASS group, WA’s underpinning youth development program. We had a beautiful sunny weekend but not much wind unfortunately. It’s a great group of sailors though and they’ve all developed really quickly compared to the last time I saw them at Westsail 6 months ago. A few training sessions of my own later and a couple of rounds of golf and it was time to head back to Queensland one last time, this time to far north Queensland. 

Some light air fun and games at the WASS camp

I had never been to Cairns before but I had heard good things so I was excited to see what all the fuss was about. After catching the red eye flight in my expectations of the place had changed immediately. I though it would be a flat dust bowl but it was the complete opposite with massive, jungle covered mountains and beautiful blue skies. Nearly all of us were staying in university accommodation which has been great with all the facilities we needed. The sailing was the best yet with 26-degree water and steady 10-15 knot trade winds blowing from the south east everyday like clockwork. The kiwi team had joined us again as this would be the last camp we do before the Olympics so we were all looking to show off our best stuff. My friend Tom had rejoined the Laser class as well and joined in with the camp which made for some extra competition too (on the water and the golf course).

Racing in the trade winds in Cairns

Cairns being the center of the Great Barrier Reef we made sure not to miss our chance to properly explore one of the natural wonders of the world. We had and amazing rest day exploring the reef on a professional charter, seeing some of the best stuff the reef had to offer. Upon returning from the reef, we started to learn that Sydney was going into lockdown due to a covid outbreak which now caused havoc for our logistics and return home! The repercussions of the lockdown are still in effect now, stopping me from going home to WA and as I write this I’m still here in Cairns over a week after the official camp had ended. Luckily in some ways I wasn’t the only one in the same boat and Finn, Richo and the Kiwis didn’t want to or couldn’t go home either. So, with the nothing to do other than train we went back to work and did another solid week on the water, this time us Aussies working with the Kiwi boys and their coach Mark. We definitely made the most of our time.

Finn and I saying goodbye to some of our old team boats we sold

As of today, the Kiwis have just left for Japan and Wearny and Blackers are already in Japan getting ready. The Olympics is only a few weeks away and everyone is starting to migrate over to Tokyo. Now Finn and I are the only two left in Cairns and will start our drive south in a few days. I have my good mate Kenno’s wedding to get to in Noosa before going home and starting my 14 days isolation in Esperance. After that I’m hoping to start planning for worlds but I’ll keep you all up to date with that as things unfold.

See you on the water