Elyse Ainsworth – 2023 Season Review

Every season seems to be going faster and faster; Palma 2023 feels like a decade ago. This year certainly dialled up the heat with trials for the test event starting in Palma and Hyeres and then Olympic Selection starting mid-year.

The season I started well with a solid 6th position going into the last day of fleet racing at the Princesa Sofia in Palma. Unfortunately, the last day got the better of me, and I finished the regatta in a solid 12th place. Always a tough pill to swallow, knowing that you could have done better, but I guess that’s how you improve!

From there, we had a brief ‘rest’ on the other side of Palma for a well-known Laser Squad tradition of cycle camp. It’s a good opportunity to blow off a bit of steam, then back on the Ferry and off to Hyeres.

As a sailor, there is always a very you love and one you find a bit more challenging; mine is Hyeres. When I master sailing at this venue, I am confident that I can tackle anything, but you take the learnings and get back on the horse.

Since returning home, it’s always important to go back to the drawing board and see where the weak areas are and how best to improve. It’s always a double-edged sword living in Australia, and the hardest part is getting the big fleet racing exposure, which is, ironically, where most of my areas are that need work.

At the beginning of June was back to Europe and off to the Olympic venue! Marseille is an interesting city and full of chaos, both on and off the water! We completed several weeks of training in Marseille and a Coaches Regatta at the end, where I finished a solid 5th. Happy with the racing improvements and was eager to take that into the Worlds in a month.

To get a little extra prep before the Worlds, since we weren’t allowed into the World’s venues until 10 days before the event. We went a little up the waterway to Oostende, Belgium.  This provided some excellent training conditions and something that we are not used to in Australia…TIDE!

Sadly a few days before the World Championships, I contracted a very nasty bout of Gastroenteritis and was seriously dehydrated and malnourished. It was a tough event because I had a very strong lead up and was the best I had felt for an event, so getting this sickness and struggling to recover was extremely disappointing but that is just life sometimes.

After getting home, postwords would be a good time to reflect and take a bit of a break before getting back into it. Being in Perth and just having those comforting routines, a favourite local coffee shop or getting back on the bike. However, it is always short lived and then its time to get back on the road.

It’s rare to have two World Championships back-to-back and so, our break home was quite short and then it was off to Flinders, Victoria to get some open ocean, hoping it would be similar to Argentina. Flinders was a beautiful place to sail and provided a fantastic camp; the penguins seemed to be having a good time while we were freezing! Missing the Freo sun!

The squad had a last hit during Sail Melbourne and Sail Sydney and I was happy to walk away with a 3rd and 1st, feeling as though all my improvements since the Hague were starting to come together. It was also super encouraging to see that the Top 8 at Sail Melbourne, which was a mixed event, consistent of all women! Such a fantastic result and testament to all the clubs efforts in encouraging women’s participation sport, encouraging for our future!!

In true sailing fashion, Christmas day is done in a flurry and then it’s off to Argentina! This was by far the most demanding regatta logistically, hard to get to, and a costly and exciting venue. Almost every day had a problem and required a fair bit of resilience to get through it all. After such a long year, I am happy to finish the season with a 13th at the World Championships. I made some crucial mistakes that kept me from being in the medal race but my consistency and mindset throughout the regatta was strong and in that alone, I am very happy with.

Now it is time to return home, get back to that Freo doctor and get ready for the next season!

Thank you, Ron Tough Yachting Foundation, for all the support!