Report from Daniel Links
On the 16th of August I left for the Optimist World Championships with my mum and the rest of the Australian Worlds Team, we had all placed top 5 at the nationals and were proud to go.
It was a long flight to Cyprus through Qatar and we landed in the morning with about a week until the regatta. Cyprus was a very nice country and extremely hot, we had the beach right next to our apartment and the club was a 15 minute walk away. Our apartment was pretty small and rundown but it did the job.
We had 2 days of training by mostly ourselves before the pre-worlds which was the practice regatta, there were so many people at the club and about 300 sailors. In my team there was Fletcher Walters and I from NSW and RPAYC, Alexi Wigglesworth and Quinn Auricht from SA and Blake Wilson from QLD. Our team were very good sailors and we all knew each other.
The training was a mix of winds and it was a very different environment from Sydney, there were massive cargo ships anchored, rock walls around the beach and flying fish. We trained with the Brazil team and the Finnish team as they were sharing our coach boat, we also had a day when we trained with about 10 other teams and did lots of races. Our team was going well in the training and we were confident and ready. We only did two days of the pre-worlds out of four so we didn’t get too tired. It was really cool sailing against all these other countries and it gave us a sneak peak of what the worlds would be like.
When we weren’t sailing or resting we were exploring Cyprus and its history. We went to a few Archaeological sites and we visited some old markets and towns, the food there was really nice, halloumi, meze, humus and other dips. Other days we just went to the beach for a swim to stay cool and read books.
The first day of the regatta was very busy and it was very exciting. I placed 9th and a 19th which was a very good day for my first world championships. The qualifying went for 2 more days and I got an 8th, 11th 2nd and 11th. It was a very good start to the regatta and I was coming 15th overall out of 270 sailors and had qualified into Gold fleet which was the top 66 boats.
Before Gold fleet we had some teams racing. The Australian team had some good close races before being knocked out by the defending champions being the USA.
Gold fleet was a whole new level with all of the top boats in the one fleet and it was very difficult the whole time. The starts were really challenging with the need to be able to tack quickly to the right after the start. I found this really difficult but learnt a lot. The competition was so tough that without a good start it made it very difficult to have a good race. After a tough final series I ended up 39th overall. I wasn’t very happy about my finals but it was still a very good regatta and a great experience.
I was the first Australian overall and the only Australian to make Gold fleet. For the rest of the Australian team it was their last Worlds and last regatta in an Optimist. I have one more year left which is great.
The closing presentation was very fun and the New Zealanders even did ‘The Haka’. There was a band that played and the top twenty got their trophies. The winner of the regatta was Marco Gradoni from Italy and 2nd was Stephan Baker from USA and Panwa Boonak from Thailand was 3rd.
The World Championships was by far my favourite regatta and it was a great experience. I have learnt a lot from the Worlds and have been practising a lot on a few different areas so I can qualify again and go even better.
Thankyou to my coach Rob Brewer and my Australian team mates especially Fletcher Walters who I have had many great races and regatta experiences with over the last couple of years.
Over the coming months I have Sail Melbourne and Sydney before our Nationals in Tasmania. I am training very hard to go one better than last years 2nd in the Nationals. Thankyou for the support.