Growing Old In A Laser / ILCA
Well, that is it! I am now officially old… at the time of writing I have just passed that special Birthday which makes me officially a Master, at least in terms of ILCA sailing age categories. Having been learning to be old in the Apprentice Masters category for a decade I am now finally a Master and to be honest I feel it, with little injuries now taking longer to heal and the chance of me forgetting something gradually increasing. I forget (no joke intended) how many Apprentice Masters Worlds I have won, but I never made a perfect score and Mexico was no different, with wonderful hosts and superb sailing conditions. I still made a mistake in one (well actually I made mistakes in every race, as I always do) but one big enough to cause me not to win a race. Although I counted only first places, I did not score only first places as now as time moves on, I will never be an apprentice again and I suspect the Masters fleet will be tougher as the battle to remain fit and injury free becomes more difficult but I shall keep trying my best.
The scores of course do not always show the closeness of the competition and I was pushed hard every race. Perhaps the race where I was most pleased, and you may be surprised to hear me say it is where I capsized, tacking on the first beat (fingers crossed the ILCA boom will get upgraded for the 2028 Olympic cycle, making it straighter and therefore easier to pass under when tacking with the kicker hard on) but caught up to win. These events are however far, far more than the competition. The social aspect is very important, in fact I even made it to the ILCA 7 social (which was before the ILCA 6 competition started) but that is another story and what happens on tour, stays on tour!
Racing against the same (am I allowed to say old again) faces is great. There are more than a few Olympic campaigners and even medallists in the fleet. Indeed, I believe I am correct in saying Tania from Mexico has been to 5 Olympic games and I remember working with her and Shirly Robertson in Hayling Island in preparation for the 2000 Sydney Olympic games which seems just a blink of an eye ago. It is actually these competitions that keeps us young and fit mentally and physically. For me every day is a school day and learning about the venues is so important, how to perform under pressure, travel effectively etc. etc. and it yes, it definitely increases my empathy as a coach which is definitely my first love now… “Coach Jon”.
These are busy days and they say keeping busy keeps you out of trouble... if only, but perhaps I would get into more trouble if I had more free time. 😉 Media has become a huge part of the life now and although I find the average time frame short (I grew up in the 80s where the average number song was around 5 minutes compared to 3 minutes now) but daily videos of all the action can be seen on the Jon Emmett Sailing YouTube Channel (and yes they are closer to 3 minutes than 5!!!). So, for those who want a real taste of the action, if pictures speak louder than words, then video out shouts pictures. So please do check out all the action from Mexico.
Now for me it is back to my day job with the Test event in September, Women’s senior Worlds in October and Women’s senior Europeans in November. I have a busy few months of coaching in front of me, starting with 2 months boatspeed / fitness work in WPNSA. I am now working with a young Romanian sailor called Ebru Bolat who is in the process of qualifying for her first Olympics. Indeed, I need to head off now to collect her from the airport. So, closing thought, sailing really is a sport for everyone, so #BacktheBid for ParaSailing and remember you are never too old to race. Come join the ILCA Masters, fun absolutely guaranteed.
Jon Emmett, July 2022
For more top tips from multi world champion and gold medal winning coach Jon, look out his books:
Coach Yourself to Win
Tactics Made Simple
Training to Win