Sailing in the Australian Summer

Since the ISAF Sailing World Championships in September much has happened. My contract with the Australian Sailing Squad was renewed and because of this I had to relocate to Sydney for some time. My time spent in the team house was awesome and I was effectively living my dream, sailing full time and getting better every day. Then, about two weeks from the start of the first event of the summer, Arthur gave me a call to tell me he would be training the current world champion, Dutchman Nicholas Heiner, in Perth and invited me to join in. I couldn’t say no to that offer and jumped on a plane to spend a week in Perths warm sun and windy weather. The training was great and I felt well prepared to have a competitive summer.

Sail Sydney: The shortest of the three events, Sail Sydney is only run over three days but is packed full with 3 races a day. We had a great mix of sailors competing with a lot of international competitors joining in. The weather was great and we only lost one race out of the 9 race program. I had my opportunities to take out the event but I just couldn’t keep my scores consistent enough when I needed to. I placed 2nd overall, a result I wasn’t fully satisfied with but gave me confidence leading into Melbourne.

Sail Melbourne: This is the biggest sailing event that Australia hosts each year and means a lot to the athletes as this is worth maximum points going towards your world ranking. I was really lucky in where I got to stay as well, doing a house share overlooking the water with some very nice people. It’s not every day I get to stay in such an amazing place so I felt pretty good. Unfortunately my day one really didn’t go to plan with two big scores placing me back in 18th in the 40 strong fleet. I had to dig deep after that and chipped away, somehow finding myself in 6th place after the third day of racing. Having big scores on the card is always going play catch up with you though and I was lucky to finish in 10th place meaning I would get to race in my second ever medal race. I could still place 7th if things went my way in the double points race and after a great pin end start I thought it was going to happen. However it wasn’t to be and I had to settle finishing  10th overall.

Australian Laser Nationals:  After the Christmas break it was time to compete in the final event of the summer and it turned out to be a perfect week. Sunny, windy and great waves, Mandurah really turned it on for those brave enough to get out there. The event was a bit of a learning curve for me as I lacked my normal speed in the breeze at the start of the week and I had to try and solve the puzzle of why that was. As the week went on I did steadily improve and it was great to play around at the front of the fleet for a while, even if I couldn’t keep Tom or Matt away. I had to settle for 4th at the end of the week by the narrowest of margins to Ryan but in all it was a really fun week.

After the craziness of coaching the Opti nationals things have settled down and I’m back into routine training hard and working on the weaknesses that the summer events highlighted. Soon I’ll be back in Sydney preparing for a very long European season so I’m making the most of the warm sun while I have it. I would like to say thanks to my coaches Arthur Brett, Belinda Stowell and Michael Blackburn for getting me through another tough Australian summer of racing and I would like to say a massive thankyou to Fremantle Sailing Club, Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, WAIS and Australian Sailing for their ongoing support of me and the sport of sailing in general.

See you on the water,

Luke Elliott – aka Swifto


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