Finn Morris, our DHF-supported junior sailor, has given us an update on his experience at the Optimist World Championships:
Since I last wrote I have been in Antigua competing in the 2019 Optimist World Championships. It was an amazing event and an experience I will never forget. It was a long event with 3 days of British team training followed by 12 individual races and a team racing event. The event was held over 8 days with 65 countries and over 265 of the best sailors in the world competing.
The event was hosted by Antigua Yacht Club and we were lucky enough to store and launch our boats from Nelson’s Dockyard, in English Harbour, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and incredibly beautiful. This was the base used by the English Navy in the Caribbean in the 1700 and 1800s and was established (as the name implies) by Nelson, who later became Admiral of the fleet, won many battles and had Nelson’s column in Trafalgar square named after him!
The tiny island nation was so grateful and happy to host the event and everyone that we met was very friendly and positive. The opening and closing ceremonies were a spectacle, with Caribbean steel bands and international teams from all round the world on parade.
I stayed on a huge catamaran with the 4 other members of the team, our coach and team leader. It was great fun as we got to swim, snorkel and paddleboard every day after racing. I had an amazing experience even if I didn’t do as well as I had hoped.
The conditions were tough but exciting with waves far higher than my boat and consistently strong wind. This favoured the bigger, stronger sailors, but provided a great learning experience. My most challenging moment was when I was leading a race in the Emerald fleet and a tropical squall with rain and huge gusts hit the entire fleet – for 10
minutes the rain was so heavy we couldn’t see any other boats or where we were going. I survived but lost places in the race. The completion was the toughest I have ever experienced. A majority of the top competitors do not attend regular school, instead training or competing for many more days. I hope to learn from the experience and it would be great to qualify to compete next year, when the event is closer to home, in Lake Garda, Italy. In the meantime I’m looking forward to competing in the British Nationals, the Irish Nationals and the UK ranking events before
winter training commences.
Thank you to the DHF for all the amazing support that helped me go to the World Championships. I could not have the super training, equipment and travel to competitions without the DHF.
I can’t wait for the British Nationals in Weymouth next week.