by Lulu Roseman
After seven races, Australian teenager Charlie Connor is currently in 43rd position at the Moth Worlds in Kaneohe in Oahu, Hawaii. Not bad for the young Tasmanian who at 15 years old is one of the youngest sailors in the fleet. His uncle just happens to be seasoned Mothie Rob Gough, who finished third in last year's Moth Worlds at Lake Garda in Italy and is currently sitting in fifth place overall.
Competing in his first Moth Worlds Connor is having a blast racing against some of his heroes including Olympians and America's Cup sailors Nathan Outeridge and Iain Jensen, past Laser Radial World Champion Ben Paton (GBR) and hard core 49er/Mothie Brad Funk (USA).
'Nathan Outeridge is a legend and so is Iain 'Goobs' Jensen, they are so nice and I just keep learning so much from both of them. They have helped me along the way and they are always interested in how I went and how I am doing and they're always so encouraging,' Connor said.
'They're just so friendly and I think it is so cool that all these Olympians, World Champions and America's Cup guys are all here just racing and having a good time. They are still competing to win but they're all just chilling out also.'
Day four was postponed due to the lack of wind but Charlie was not deterred by the break in the racing schedule and the chance that there may not be enough wind over the two final days of the regatta to get any more racing in. His enthusiasm is contagious and he has been keeping busy on the three postponed days surfing some of the North Shore's wickedest breaks including Sunset and Pipeline.
'This is my first time competing in the Moth Worlds. I was pretty stoked to have placed 31st among 75 boats in the North Americans just before the Worlds commenced. I won the junior division and scored a cool prize which is something I will treasure,' Connor said.
'My experience here so far has been dealing with the very tricky conditions. The light winds have been a huge challenge for me and it requires a lot of concentration because if you're not in the pressure you're just not going to perform very well. You need to be in the pressure and up on your foils. Look at Nathan Outeridge, he's up on his foils all the time and he's just smashing it,' he added.
Loick Peyron and Charlie Connor.
'What I am getting out of competing here is huge. I am gaining so much knowledge from the older guys. I am very fortunate that my uncle brought me into this class and without him I wouldn't be where I am.
Connor first jumped on a Moth when he was 10 years old and by the time he was 12, his uncle Rob took him out on his own. He only got serious about the class earlier this year after competing in the Australian Cadet Championships where he finished sixth overall and went on to represent Australia in the Worlds where he finished in 13th place.
'Yesterday's racing was just so much fun. I placed 24th in the second race of the day so I was feeling very pleased with myself and then all the top guys congratulated me 'well done' and 'you did a good job'. To have people like Ben Paton, a Laser Radial Worlds Champion who I respect so much say to me 'Mate, well done, you're right up there next to me and you're doing so well' is very cool.'
Connor said that one of the biggest challenges that he is dealing with is making sure he gets a good start.
Charlie Connor wins 2013 North American Moth Championship Junior Title
'Just starting in these boats is tough. If you don't get a great start then it's very hard to pick your way through this fleet . I reckon the key thing I'll be taking away from this event is to always do whatever you can to get a good start and to always be supportive to your fellow competitors. Be a good sport and enjoy yourself. Have a good time. Go out there to win but always make sure you're having fun. Oahu is a really fun place to hang out, I'm just loving it.'
'Oahu is an awesome place to sail. Just look around here at the mountains, blue skies and sunshine every day, turtles in the water and it's just so beautiful.