by Craig Heydon
West Australian duo Carrie Smith and Ella Clark are preparing for their second shot at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship podium after coming so close in 2011.
Zadar, 14.07.2011. Day 8. JK Uskok, Zadar, Croatia. Photo: Sime Sokota / ISAF Youth Sailing
Smith and Clark will represent Australia in the 420 girls class later this month in Dublin, Ireland, having finished fourth at the 2011 event.
Since then the teenagers have had experience at the highest level, competing in the 470 class at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships last December.
'Our preparation is going really well, we’re balancing year 12 studies and a heavy load of training which is hard work but hopefully will bring many big rewards,' said Smith. 'We’re on the water a lot, still laughing and having fun!'
Clark said that the pair has been spending as much time on the water as possible so they can be at their peak when they hit the water in Dublin.
'So far Carrie and I have been training at our home club in Fremantle, competing in the club racing and against some good competition,' said Clark. 'The conditions at home are great out on the ocean, allowing us to get a feel for potentially some similar weather in Ireland.'
Smith and Clark are looking forward to the challenge of taking on the best 420 youth sailors in the world.
'The best thing about the Youth Worlds is the feeling of not knowing what to expect,' said Smith. 'It's like you’re blindfolded and all you have is your raw physical and mental talent. Everyone is equal and it just comes down to how you perform on the day. Meeting all the other athletes is also a great experience and you really make lifelong friends.'
Clark said that the competition at the Youth Worlds is what sets it apart from other regattas.
'I love the competitive feel at the Youth Worlds,' said Clark. 'It’s great to be able to compare ourselves to the best in the world, to see if our training has paid off. It’s great competing against people from all over the world rather than just within the state and also seeing how we can step up our game when under pressure.'
Though the 2012 event will be the pair’s second ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship Smith believes that due to it being held in a different location and with different competitors each year it levels out the playing field a bit.
'This year isn’t too different as we don't really know who is competing and what the conditions will be like,' said Smith. 'But it’s really great to have already been through the process of the regatta and I'm excited to see what this time around will bring. Hopefully the luck of the Irish will come to us!'
Clark feels that the experience of competing in Croatia in 2011 will be an added boost for the pair as they compete for that medal.
'We were just the new kids last year and the youngest in the top 10 so to finish just off the podium was great for us and better than we'd expected,' said Clark. 'Now we know where we stand and know what to expect and how hard we have to work to get there. I think that’s a real advantage for us this time, knowing where we have to be and how we can achieve this.
'I went into the Youth Worlds in Croatia last year knowing so little about what the event was really like,' she said. 'Despite having competed internationally previously, I still couldn't understand the concept of a Youth Worlds and how different it is from any other regatta. From that I definitely learnt the pressures that come with it and how you have to apply yourself when you get there.
'Being a part of a team was also such a big thing, you had to rely on them a lot, knowing that we're there as a team to represent our country and at the end of the day that we're all there to support each other,' said Clark.
Racing begins in Dublin on Saturday 14 July and continues until Friday 20 July.
ISAF Youth World Championships website