Stewart sails his way to world ranking in Hungary

James Stewart (14) recently finished seventh in the under-16s 2013 World Laser 4.7 Youth Championships in Hungary.Picture: Emma Reeves d404889
James Stewart (14) recently finished seventh in the under-16s 2013 World Laser 4.7 Youth Championships in Hungary.Picture: Emma Reeves d404889

And the Watermans Bay teen’s future looks strong after he finished seventh in the under-16s for the Laser 4.7 Youth World and European Championships in Hungary this month.

He was 20th in the world for the under-18s category.

Over 200 males and 100 females from over 45 countries compete in the pathway event for future Olympic competitors.

‘This was my first sailing competition outside of Australia,’ Stewart said.

‘I had participated in the Australian Open and other Australian regattas to achieve a ranking to be selected.

‘I qualified for the gold fleet which represented the top 25 per cent of competitors in the world. The qualifying rounds were tough but once I got to the finals I performed the best I’ve ever done and had the best final results in gold fleet for the Australian team.’

To prepare, he travelled to Hobart and Sydney regattas and trained at two clubs ” Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club and Fremantle Sailing Club ” four times a week.

‘I also completed a fitness program and cycled about 150km per week plus cardio vascular and strength training and developed routines,’ he said.

He said the winds on Hungary’s Lake Balaton were erratic ” often shifty and gusty.

‘And the wave movement was difficult to manoeuvre around,’ he said.

‘There were some days with very little wind, so it was quite different from Australian conditions. To adjust I participated in the pre-worlds regatta and the Australian coach came early to help prepare me.’

He is nowtraining for Laser competitions at Sail Melbourne, Sail Sydney and the Australian Laser Nationals on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria from November to January.

Stewart’s ultimate goal is to become a professional sailor and represent Australia at the Olympics, and to become an accredited sailing coach.

‘I take each race on an individual basis and try to build a performance base at many state, national and international competitions,’ he said.

He said he became hooked on the sport after attending a sailing club just to try it.

‘I love it because it is an individual sport where all the conditions can change rapidly. It is never the same situation,’ he said.

‘I sail a Laser which is an Olympic- class fleet. In my age group, we sail the 4.7 sail. It is a very physical boat compared to other classes.

‘You have to be fit and focused to make it all work.’