Priorities and Planning for Sailing in a World Championship Regatta

Setting Priorities for Your Worlds Experience

Winter is a great time to cozy up inside and plan for upcoming racing adventures. While regatta schedules are still getting sorted for 2021, now’s the time to start making plans and preparations if you’re considering participating in a world championship.

The author snapped this sailing shot from her phone at the 2017 Laser Masters Worlds in Split, Croatia. Photo by Kim Couranz

Sailing is such a special sport in that, in many cases, we amateurs can compete in world championships alongside sailing pros and share the starting line with Olympians. That’s just not the case with so many other sports. The only way I could ever participate in the Stanley Cup would be if I got to be a really good Zamboni driver. But in sailing, amateurs with “day jobs” testing ourselves against the very best in our sport—people who are sailors 24/7—is what happens at many world championships.

But competing in a world championship, especially one outside the United States, takes a lot of preparation, time, and money. If you’re going to do it, it’s important to match your expectations with what you put in to the regatta.

What are your goals; why do you want to sail in the regatta? Win the championship/finish in the top 10? Be competitive in your part of the fleet, whether that’s in the middle of the pack or not even on the first page of the results? Learn a lot? Make new friends? Go sailing in a gorgeous new-to-you location? Sail in a worlds because it’s close to home with easy logistics? Those are all completely valid things to aim for.

Deciding what you realistically want to aim for will guide you in your preparations, as you plan for months or even a year to hit the starting date of the regatta appropriately prepared in your fitness, boat situation, and logistics. While some worlds are open to anyone who wants to enter, others require that you qualify through feeder events or be selected—so your quest to sail in  certain world championships may take multiple years.

Fitness is, of course, a huge part of your potential success at a worlds. Depending on your goals, maybe it’s just stepping up your cardio and adding in a weights session weekly. If you’re shooting for higher levels, better still to work with a trainer to develop a boat-specific training plan that over the course of a number of months will build your abilities and endurance. Yes, you can work with a trainer virtually, so let’s get started!

The boat situation can be a tricky one. For some world championship events, boats are provided/chartered as new or almost new, and you just need to sort out how to travel with some of your equipment and sails. For other classes, maybe you bring your own boat—perhaps trailering it to somewhere in North America, shipping it to somewhere else in the world—if you’re focusing on being in the top half of the fleet. Chartering a boat may be a good solution if you’re focusing on building skills and friendships or if shipping your boat doesn’t fit in your budget. But accept that the boat probably won’t be set up as you’re used to, and a few extra preregatta days may be needed to rig it in a way that won’t leave you frustrated throughout the regatta. Are there elements on your boat that you absolutely love? It can easily be worth it to bring your personal mainsheet rather than relying on what the boat owner may provide.

Logistics play an important role, too. Having confidence in your travel arrangements and lodging can make the difference between good nutrition, restful sleep, and an easy commute to the boat park during the regatta or suffering through a suboptimal situation. Suggestions for lodging posted on the regatta website can be super helpful, but don’t just stop there in your search for lodging and other needs.

Each of my worlds experiences in three different classes (Yngling, Snipe, Laser) has been memorable in different ways from the sailing, to the location, to the people, to the vacations I’ve tacked on when traveling far from home. As with any standard vacation, planning for and anticipating your worlds experience is a large part of the fun. So, dive on in to the planning!

There are so many nuanced decisions to make and things to consider—SpinSheet will host an online Happy Hour on Facebook Live and YouTube at 5 p.m. EST on Friday, December 4, to talk about just this. J/24 sailor Tony Parker will also share his knowledge about world championship preparation. Join us for the conversation!

~By Kim Couranz

Join us for SpinSheet Happy Hour on Facebook Live at 5 p.m. tonight (Friday, Dec. 4) to discuss how amateur crews can prepare for world-level sailing regattas.