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The ISAF World Championships were held over the 3-18th of December 2011. Unique to sailing and the pre Olympic year, all disciplines compete at the same location for the World Championship title- unlike others where we are spread across the globe. In the Laser Radial Women’s class, I was coming into racing off a relatively large injury and it was to be my first proper event of the year. There were over 100 competitors in my class, all vying to qualify their countries and ultimately themselves for the Olympic Games. With 29 countries qualifying at the event, it was going to be tough from the get go, however Mother Nature had her way and pushed us all to our limits.

Racing for my class began on the 5th, and I was lucky enough to have Tony and his son Jack visit me before the start. My back was taped and I felt strong but a little anxious going into the first day. In sailing we have a qualifying series and a finals series, which allows sailors to fall into two fleets or groups, called “Gold” and “Silver.” To have a shot at a medal, you need to make the top half, gold, and this was also an important step in qualifying a country. Australia had 4 sailors in Gold fleet, so we automatically qualified for the Olympic Games.

Throughout the series, we lost a day due to large storms (that turned out to be inactive) which meant we had to ‘make up’ the races on other days. Instead of the usual two race days, we were to complete three races a day, two days in a row. Coming back from a major injury, I was no where near fit enough or strong enough to be competitive throughout all three. However, with the aid of Rock Tape I was able to get through the third race each day, competitively. It really did keep me going stronger, longer.

I ended up 33rd overall out of 105 competitors (Second Aussie). It could have been a much better result- maybe if I was in the gym as often as the other girls (and not just doing rehab exercises on the dreaded Pilates reformer!) However, given my age- I was lucky to take away Gold in the Under 19 and Silver in the Under 21 divisions. Given I’m an under 21 for another two years, that’s a title I’ll be looking to take away in Germany, in May.

Given sailing is such a unique sport (and badly organised); we were given the privilege of a week off before our National Championships began.  I came home, washed my clothes and a week to the day, I headed back to the airport and off to Brisbane. The National Championship is contested by all ages and both sexes. We have division results ‘extrapolated’ from the overall scores from the event. Going into the regatta I was hoping for a Top 10 finish, with my eye on the Top 5.

Unfortunately there were not always favourable conditions throughout the whole event. We raced one day in over 70km/h winds- enough to uproot small trees. Other than this day it was generally a windy event which meant stamina was again tested. (Feels like I left that in Perth!) However, I was able to perform consistently across all breeze ranges and was racing against people that have been training full time and not just completed a World Champs.

I finished the event equal 6th, but on a results count back I was shifted to 7th. It was a little upsetting, with the constant thought that if I finished in one better position in any of the races, I would’ve been 6th. But hey, that’s boat racing! I finished 2nd Woman and managed to have some close racing with the main Olympic prospect. Given she is 9 years older than me and already has a Games under her belt, and I’m not at peak fitness- complaining seems a little unreasonable! Krystal sailed a great event and deserved the win at the end of the day.

Undoubtedly without Rock Tape, I wouldn’t have made it through the worlds and definitely wouldn’t have been able to back up for nationals! I used the tape on my back as support, on my quads to lengthen their endurance and for recovery and reduced swelling.

Next up for me is a fitness block, followed by some on water tuning- before heading overseas in a couple of months. The Worlds in May are the last chance to qualify for the Olympics- with only one athlete chosen to compete, it is a pretty big task to undertake, but I’m ready to take it on- with more fitness and my Rock Tape- sky’s the limit.

Sail Fast
Alex South