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World Youth Champion exits early to contest Olympic classes

by Josh Armit/Yachting NZ 20 Mar 17:59 PDT 21 March 2019
Josh Armit (NZL) (Laser) - Youth Sailing World Championships, Corpus Christi, Texas, USA. July 14-21, 2018 © Jen Edney / World Sailing

Current World Youth Single-handed champion Josh Armit (17yrs) writes for Yachting New Zealand about his transition from the youth classes to Olympic classes and the challenge of juggling that process with school.

I’ve always been one to look for new challenges and that’s a large part of the reason why I have moved into the Olympic classes even though I could have stayed another year at youth level.

Last year was a really successful one for me. I was really happy to win gold in the Laser Radial at the youth sailing world championships in the United States and was also second at the Laser Radial world championships later in the year. Both of those achievements helped me again become a finalist for the emerging talent category at last month’s Halberg Awards.

I’m still only 17 and could have had one more year in the youth classes but decided to move into the Laser standard. I was really happy with what I had already achieved and was looking forward to the challenge of moving up a level.

It’s been a bit of a change, and wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I think it was the right one and I’ve learned a lot already.

I never really stayed long in any of the junior classes. The fact I was a fairly average-sized kid had something to do with it – and my move into the Laser standard was also based a bit on size – but I was always looking for that next challenge. You can definitely stay in a class too long when you’re young.

I’ve been really lucky over the last few months to be able to train with New Zealand’s top Laser sailors and I’ve learned a lot from the likes of Sam Meech and Tom Saunders.

I travelled with them to Miami for the World Cup Series regatta there and that was another great learning experience. I was quite pleased with how it went, which has given me confidence, but it also emphasised how tight it is at the top and how small mistakes can see you out the back of the fleet.

The Laser is one of the most competitive fleets, and most of the world’s best sailors were there, but I just saw them as just another sailor. I don’t tend to get phased by that sort of thing. I try not to overthink things.

I came back to New Zealand and decided to compete in the OK Dinghy world championships at Wakatere. I hadn’t planned on doing it but saw some pictures while in Miami of preparations for the worlds and got a bit keen.

It was an amazing experience to have 111 boats on a start line in New Zealand, and there were some fairly big names in there. The racing was quite different to what you get in the Lasers, with longer courses. It’s such a cool class to sail - I really enjoyed the technical side to it - and it was also great to have Dad help me out during the week.

If that wasn’t enough, I had the Halberg Awards soon after and I was really honoured to be named as a finalist again. There were so many great people there and hearing of their achievements really inspires me to push further and harder.

As you might have guessed, it’s sometimes hard to juggle sailing with school. I’m really grateful to my school who have helped me out a lot but I also know (and my parents keep reminding me) how important school is. I can see the finish line now that I’m in my last year and there will be times when school work needs to take priority.

I’m planning on competing in Hyeres next month and I also have the Laser world championships in Japan on the radar. I'm looking forward to the racing and getting stuck into some more challenges.

For more news from Yachting New Zealand click here

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