After slowly accepting that I wouldn't receive an entry for the 2014 ISAF Worlds, and sitting at home while all my team mates boarded their planes, I started to plan my month and set some mini goals for myself to keep me on track and also distract me from the fact that I wouldn't be competing. I won't lie, I was shattered that I wasn't going to be there, I thought about it all day everyday but I had to get on with life and make sure I never miss out on a worlds spot again. Then I woke up early on the 2nd September...
I had a pretty normal day planned; a gym session in the morning, and a ride in the hills in the arvo. I also had to organise some enrolment forms for uni.
But when I woke up there were some unexpected messages on my phone. The first one was from my good mate Mitchy; 'Jezza! you're coming to Santander!' it said. It was early morning and I was still waking up, I must have read the message 10 times just to make sure I wasn't dreaming. There were some emails from Katie our program manager saying the same thing, I had actually got a spot for the worlds! Excited is an understatement!
The first thing I had to decide was if I was actually going to go. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to go, but I only had 10 days until the start of the regatta, and a lot to do in that time. It didn't take me long at all, but I decided that I would rather go to the Worlds and risk being underprepared than stay at home and regret not knowing how I could've gone. I booked a flight for the next day and the mad process of packing and organising began!
I flew on the 3rd september, arrived in Spain very late at night on the 4th, and was on the water in Santander the afternoon of the 5th! Talk about a quick turnaround!
The regatta started on September 12 for the Lasers, so I had very limited time to get back into the boat as I hadn't been sailing much, and learn as much about the venue as possible. I felt rushed, but was excited about getting straight into the regatta and seeing what I could do.
The first day of the regatta brought light winds and we had two qualifying races scheduled. In the first race I had a tough start and started to stage a comeback down the first run but lost a lot of boats on the second beat when a strong line of pressure came down the right hand side of the course. I never recovered and scored a 43, not an ideal start to my Worlds. My second race was much better and after a nice start I protected the right hand side of the course and rounded the top in 8th, chipped away and gained a few boats around the course to finish 5th.
The second day looked to be a windier one but soon after our start it became super light. I rounded the top in about 30th and clawed back down the run to get into the top 20, and then gained a couple on the last lap to finish in 17th. We then waited around for a few hours for some wind, and late in the afternoon it came in and we got a hiking race done. Unfortunately at the start our fleet joined in with another fleet so effectively we raced a 100 boat fleet for our last race of qualifying. I had a poor race getting bounced around in every direction and finished in 31 meaning I missed out on Gold Fleet by a few points, a very hard pill to swallow and I was absolutely gutted to miss the cut as the same thing happened last year in Oman.
A long night of replaying parts of races where I gained points ensued, but I was determined to move up the leaderboard in silver fleet and try and get some good results over the next few days. Unfortunately we only managed one race over 4 days so it was a very short Worlds for me. I finished in 57th place which is better than last year but I feel if I sail my best I am a lot higher up the scoreboard than that.
It has been a crazy month for me, with some ridiculously high moments combined with some seriously hard moments, but I know that all these times are character building and will serve me well as I pursue my dream of becoming the best Laser sailor in the world. A good friend of mine told me this quote recently 'sometimes not getting what you want is exactly what you need'.
I'll be a better athlete and sailor next time I compete and I'm excited about the months ahead as I get prepared for the summer racing season in Australia.