Hello Natalia! How and when did you start sailing?

I was 10 when I started sailing the Optimist. My dad, Luke, was interested in sailing since he was young and participated in the Sydney Hobart race in 1989.

I still vividly remember the first regatta I took part in, with winds blowing over 10 knots. Initially, I didn’t want to launch because I was too scared to capsize but my dad told me it’s “just wind and water” and convinced me to launch that day.

I also felt pretty intimidated because I didn’t know anyone very well at the sailing center. Everyone started sailing with their school and had their school friends. However, I managed to make a good friend (Lulu) whom I am still in touch with today.

 

What were some of the best memories from your early regattas?

I was about 11 and I still remember being very confused by the aspect of starting 5 minutes after the first warning signal; instead of just starting immediately as they sound the horn.

The one thing that I did not understand was why the boat kept getting lighter as I kept sailing. As soon as I changed to a bigger boat like the Byte, I didn’t know why the boat was so much heavier. I guess the aspect of strength did not really resonate with me then.

 

How is your overseas training experience?

I’ve trained/raced in Japan, Poland, Hong Kong, Spain, Thailand and Malaysia. Training overseas is sort of a surreal experience. The most memorable trip was definitely Spain, because it was my first ever World Championship.

At the World Championships, I got to meet so many new friends from more than 10 different countries with so many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. It was really spectacular because everyone was so friendly and we all still keep in touch to this date. I am so grateful for these experiences because I was able to race and train against World Champions and many other Youth Olympic Games contenders from all around the world. I feel like this shared camaraderie I have with these other windsurfers make me more motivated to windsurf and enjoy the sport that I love.

 

How do you cope with school and competitive sailing?

I’ve probably skipped an accumulated time of 6 months of school because of windsurfing/sailing regattas both local and overseas. I think it averages around 50-60 days of school each year. Especially at the Techno293 European Championships in Poland, I I skipped 1 month (20 days) of school for it.

 

What does success mean to you?

Success is so much more than winning the title for a regatta or attaining that Gold medal at a major event. I feel like success is branched out from others’ successes because of the joy you feel for them as they achieve their goals. Whenever I see a fellow teammate wins at a World Championship, I am filled with joy and happiness because I share their ‘success’ as well.

On a more personal level, success for myself could mean achieving the goals I set for myself for that particular regatta. The journey itself could be a form of success because of the hard work I put into it.

 

Read more about Natalia!

National A Div Sailing: Raffles Boys win it yet again; Girls see unexpected Champion – Red Sports, 16 Apr 2018