RSYS Members Captain Karyn Gojnich and Howard Elliott have just returned from Samoa, where they generously devoted their time to support young sailors at the 2019 Pacific Games. 4,000 athletes and officials from 24 Pacific Nations competed across 26 sports over a two week period in Apia.
Howard was a member of the International Jury appointed for the regatta and Karyn was part of the coaching team supporting four Australian sailors at the event. Karyn commented, "There were many highlights during our two weeks however the most rewarding was working with some very talented young sailors, watching them rise to the challenges, soak up advice, learn and adapt both on the race course and onshore. The future of Australian Sailing is looking very bright with these sailors coming through." said Karyn
A warm welcome at the Opening Ceremony
Week one included racing for the Women’s single hander event sailed in the Laser Radial. Australia’s Paris Van Den Herik from Darwin got off to a solid start day one with a 2,2,4 in the three races sailed. The weather throughout the regatta was challenging, quite often huge clouds building over the land and rain clouds coming in from the ocean affecting the local wind on the course area. On day 3 Paris picked up a second yellow flag but she was able to bounce back on day 4 and pick up two race wins. Points were close going into the final day of racing however Paris was able to secure the bronze medal.
Karyn with the Australian sailing team
The Oceania Championships were held alongside the Pacific Games and in week one this included a Kiteboarding event in which Australians Logan McCormick and Levi Fowler collected the Gold and Silver medals respectively.
The inaugural Para Hansa 303 single handed event was held and Australia's Russell Phillips collected the silver medal.
In week two the Open Catamaran event was contested in the Hobie 16. Lake Macquarie Nacra 15 sailors Tom Dawson and Sarah Hoffman had to put on weight before the event to stay above the class minimum of 130kgs. The Pacific Games experience was a major development opportunity for the two 16 year-olds, who were racing against athletes twice their age with a wealth of experience competing on the world stage.
About the event Sarah commented "It was an amazing opportunity to be able to relate with other athletes from different sports and be able to have the experience of being a part of a multi-sport Australian team. It was really interesting to learn the mindset other athletes carry when they achieve or don’t achieve their goals when competing. Overall, this event gave me a wide insight to the scope of sport and future opportunities in sports as well as giving me a further appreciation for sport itself." Tom observed "It was an awesome experience, heaps to take away from it and put back into our sailing back home."
Also in the second week of competition was the single handed men's event that was contested in the Laser full rig. Due to the limited number of Lasers available in Samoa competitors sailed in split fleets. Will Sargent from Tasmania was up against some top opposition with French sailors Maxime Mazard and Etienne Le pen representing New Caledonia. Will racked racked up 12 second places and managed a win in race 13. There were some great battles on the water, and one that also went before the international jury, only to be dismissed, but nevertheless a very valuable learning experience for both teams. In the final race of the series Will had to beat Eroni Leilua from Samoa for the Bronze medal. After a match racing style pre-start, Will comfortably stayed three to four boat lengths in front of the Samoan to claim his spot on the podium.
On reflection Will commented "This event has highlighted to me the skill and fitness levels required to be able to compete at the top end of Olympic class fleets and has given me an insight into what I need to improve on to compete near the top end of the fleet of Olympic classes."