I arrived at Circolo vela Arco, lake Garda about a week before the regatta, so I could hopefully get a feel for the conditions and set my charter boat up to be the same as my boat.
Day 1: The first day I got there I was lucky enough to have a close friend who had a club boat which I was able to use and I was then invited to train with their team (Aku Aku sailing team). It was a great opportunity to be able to get out in the water before the regatta and be able to train with some very talented locals! The training was very early at 8am on water! The coaches set up some long windward leeward races which were great with about 25 boats on the small line! I didn't expect to do very well in this first training, but to my surprise I won a few races and was top 5 in every race! This gave me a lot of confidence in going into the event.
Day 2: Today was rest day for their team, but they invited me to have a go at windsurfing with them! It was a great time to relax and enjoy the view as we all attempted to windsurf around the lake. We all decided we would stick to sailing as we can actually get to where we want to go on our dinghies!
Day 3: Today I joined the team along with some Germans in a windy but exciting training session, where we did some short slalom courses. It was about 20 knots, and I've got to say I lost a bit of confidence when I was struggling at times to keep the boat up in these shifty, windy, conditions! This day was the only day of the whole time on Garda, where I had my one capsize, I suppose I had to capsize once while being on Lake Garda! I still went in smiling knowing I had learnt a lot about the Ora and I knew I had a little bit of work to do if I wanted to sail strong in the racing which was to be held in the afternoons.
Day 4: I arrived at the club at 10am to receive my charter boat. My charter boat was AUS3, and sail number 8125. The hull had expanded from the extreme heatwave which Italy was facing, which wasn't ideal considering it probably was going to cause leaking, but it actually ended up making the hull quite comfy to hike off! I along with fellow club members Florian Mitteregger and Oliver Mitteregger began to set up our boats with all the modifications which we prefer to sail our boats with. It took longer then we thought it would but I finally made it for a quick sail on my own late afternoon.
Day 5: Today I trained with a small group of Czch, and German sailors, we had some short course races with some last minute tips of how to sail fast in these conditions. We all had a lot of fun and were feeling well prepared for our regatta which started tomorrow! Tonight the AUS team went to a BBQ held by the Germans, which was a great opportunity to meet the German team and strengthen our friendships.
Day 6: Today the committee had scheduled two practise races for 1pm, when the Ora would be in. We headed to the club at 10:30 to rig our boats, and be changed for a 11 o'clock briefing. The briefing went right up until 11:40am and we were told to launch at 12 as it was a long way to the course! I shoved some pasta into me and drank some water and then went to my boat to pull it all the way to the water, which happened to be a lot further then most of us were used to having to pull our boats! The chaos of launching was the craziest part of the day! 130-150 boats trying to walk down one path and across one foot path and down one ramp was pretty hectic! I finally made it to the front of the line and launched. Making it to the start on time, and able to test the course before the race. The first race I went really well scoring a 2nd in my division! Then second race I did well scoring a 2nd or 3rd but the race committee missed me as I went through the finish line, meaning I scored a DNF, then I had to Put in a scoring enquiry in order to be able to qualify for the regatta. Thankfully all that was sorted and I was able to sail because they knew I had completed the two qualifying races!
Later that night I attended the opening ceremony, this was a highlight of the event! Unfortunately fellow Aussie team members were unable to attend but I was there and was bearing the Aussie flag on stage along side my Italian and Czch friends! After the ceremony there was a lovely buffet dinner. The opening ceremony was not only a great way to be able to recognise the start of the regatta but also to meet new people and have a great time with old friends.
Day 7: this was the first official day of the regatta, with a briefing scheduled for 11am and again a 1pm start. We ended up being postponed on shore in our line up of boats down the path for 1 hour! We all were eager to be on the water and get that first nervous yet exciting race out of the way! We all went and had the regatta lunch of pasta and then finally AP went down and we were off! Little did we know that then we were going to be postponed on the water until 5:30pm as well!! No wind came in and they kept us sitting around and laying on our boats for over 3 hours! We returned to shore and de-rigged our boats and ate some well needed food! After the long day we had all had, the local Italians invited us to go swimming and jetty jumping with them, Florian and I were very happy to be forming such wonderful friendships and having such a fun time! Although we both gave jumping off some big cliff jetty a miss as we were not risking injury after how far we had come for this regatta!!
Day 8 (second day of racing! ): today we had been told to be on the water ready for our first start at 7:30am! This meant being at the club at 6am to rig by 6:30 and leave the beach in order to make it to the course! After being there at 6:00, rigging, being fully changed, and extremely keen to hit the water, storm came, the AP then went up and we were once again stuck on shore! The committee were waiting for the thunder and lighting to pass, so we could hopefully get some races in! We finally launched at 10am and then headed out further than the practise races in search of some wind! We then were post poned for a short time until a light breeze came and we started our first race! Through out this race the wind was dying and dying, we got to the second last leg to be abandoned due to barely any wind and a 180 degree wind shift! The AP was up, causing us to wait on water for a couple hours until 1pm! We then had 4 30-40 minute races, which I didn't do as well as I had hoped, scoring only a 4,4,4,3, but above all it was a good start to my regatta. Later that night we had a event dinner to attend, I think I can safely say Florian and i enjoyed spending time with our friends and enjoyed the night!
Day 8( last day of racing!): I went into today wanting to move into the podium finishes! Since we headed out in the morning, the conditions were lighter than the usual conditions which we had been having in the afternoon. I used these lighter conditions to my advantage and got two seconds onto my score card. This put me up into 3rd for the lunch break, where I soon discovered I was only 4 points off second and was pretty keen to try my best to jump up into 2nd! We launched for the afternoon session, the weather had gone pretty wild and was forecasted to get even windier! Before the start of the first race my rudder broke, I quickly sailed to the AUS support boat where they fixed the problem within minutes and I was able to make it to the start on time! In the first two races of the session I scored two 4ths which was far from what I was I was hoping to achieve, but I then knew this race I had to beat the Italian guy who was catching me on points. The last race of the regatta, I luckily scored a 3rd which secured me 3rd place overall by just one point!
Closing ceremony was a great experience, was great to be able to stand along side some great friends including fellow Aussie Florian, and receive our medals. We then said our sad good byes to all the friends we had made, I have to say this was one of the hardest parts of the regatta! One by one the european teams set off in their vans to drive home, soon I was just left with my Italian team "Aku Aku Sailing Team", it was very hard to say goodbye to these amazing people who had made me feel like I was part of their team! Final hugs and goodbyes and I was off.
I am happy to say that my first international regatta was one of the best times of my life and is a wonderful experience which I will never forget! I made many friends who I am keeping in touch with and am happy with my achievement. Thank you, to RFBYC for your ongoing support, to all my coaches who have taught me everything I know, to my fellow sailors who have given me great competition over the years, to my family and friends, my sponsors, and most of all my parents who go above and beyond with funding my dream and driving me to Perth 3 times a week.