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Competing in a Musto Skiff Worlds as a youth sailor

by Josh Belben 22 Jul 2022 17:42 BST
Josh Belben at the ACO 11th Musto Skiff World Championships 2022 © Bernardí Bibiloni /

This year's ACO 11th Musto Skiff World Championships at Kiel Week saw an impressive turnout for youth sailors, including GBR youth sailor, Josh Belben, who finished with a respectable second place in the Youth Category. In this article, Josh reflects on his experience attending the 2022 Musto Skiff Worlds as a youth sailor, and his key take aways for competing in a large regatta.

44 Musto Skiff sailors ventured to Kiel, Germany for the ACO 11th Musto Skiff World Championships held from 22nd - 26th June. With this being my second World Championships in the class, and as a youth representative, I couldn't speak more highly of the standard of racing and camaraderie off the water.

From the practice racing on the 21st of June to the last race, the competition was as good as ever. As the regatta played out, it was apparent getting a clean lane off the start and holding onto positions, or gaining throughout races, was very difficult. Although, in saying that, this is exactly what any competitive sailor should expect when racing at the biggest event on their class calendar.

Looking back, it makes you realise how good the top three sailors at this Worlds really were, and the time and energy that Peacock, Tarboton and Greenhalgh must have given to reach that level.

Personally, I finished 18th Overall and 2nd Youth to Rob Richardson, who sailed exceptionally well and fished 4th overall. On reflection, I was pleased with the result but felt I could have squeezed into the top fifteen if I had held it together on the fourth day of racing in the light, hot conditions. As competitive individuals, I believe we are always looking to better ourselves and I'm sure even Rick Peacock, our new World Champion, will look back at races and think how he would have sailed differently.

As a sailing venue, Kiel was great skiff sailing. We were positioned on the Kilo course all week, which was around an hour to sail out to, but once there, it was epic! Huge rolling waves, stable wind direction and burning sunshine (someone told me it always rains in Kiel?).

Throughout the week we got a mix of light to windy conditions, which is exactly what you want to produce the best all rounded sailor. Sadly, we did miss two days of racing due to lack of wind, and potentially the last day we could have got sailing if the course was closer. Although, in saying this, I believe a lot of the sailors would rather have had the hour commute in stable wind, than the inside course option of snakes and ladders. Lost days aside, the race committee did a great job of getting 10 races completed - only missing 4 races after two days of not sailing.

From an organisation perspective, it was very professional - in some cases too much so, with penalty points being handed out for errors, such as not handing back trackers in time. This was an experience that most of us were not used to, and sadly, I joined the club and suffered a penalty myself. On the plus, it meant everything else was to the clock and well run. If racing started at 11am; it started at 11am, no matter how many boats where there. If the dinner was at 7pm..... you get the point.

The evening meals provided by the Kiel Week's organisers where brilliant, just what was needed after a long day's racing along with the onshore snacks. A refreshing beer was also greatly appreciated to go alongside the meals.

Looking back over this year's World Championships as part of Kiel Week, it was great to be back out racing in a big Musto fleet in some near perfect conditions and great competition. Being involved with the Olympic classes was a great experience and a good insight into their lifestyle and approach to racing. I personally enjoyed getting out of the country (especially after the pandemic restrictions), travelling to a new venue, and sailing against others outside of the UK.

I'm looking forward to another World Championships and seeing where it will be, and I hope to see an even bigger turn out for next year!

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