Year 8 student Mia Austin has been selected for the Australian Optimist sailing team to compete at the Asian and Oceanic championships later this year. In this interview, Mia speaks about her success and shares what she enjoys about the sport of sailing.
Firstly, what’s an ‘Optimist’?
It’s a small boat. It’s like a floating bathtub, at least that’s what people think it looks like. They don’t go very fast and that’s because they are beginner boats. Most Olympic sailors started learning in Optis and once they get more experienced they handle bigger and faster boats.
How does it feel to be part of the Australian Optimist sailing team?
It feels really good, and it feels like all my hard work has paid off. I had to do a lot of training in the lead up to the Australian Championships and I got COVID beforehand as well, so that was annoying. I didn’t do much else except train for a good while.
What did you have to do to be selected?
We had the Australian Optimist Championships on the Georges River earlier this year and you get selected for a team according to how well you’ve done. The top five sailors go to the World Championships. The next five sailors go to the European Championships, which I just missed out on. Instead, I made it to the Asian and Oceanic Championships, so I’ll be travelling to Asia later in the year to compete. (Unfortunately, the event was rescheduled from a May event in Korea due to COVID, but is still expected to take place towards the end of the year.)
What normally takes place at an international regatta and what are you expecting?
Well I’ve never been to an international regatta before but I know there’s going to be an opening ceremony and lots of opportunities to meet people from other cultures. The racing itself is going to be a whole lot tougher than normal. I’ll have to be more aggressive and louder when I race because there’s a language and cultural barrier. I think it will be more mentally taxing than physical to be honest.
Of all the sports you could be involved with, why choose sailing?
I play other sports as well. I play them for fun but sailing is something I do competitively. I’d say it’s quite scary but once you get used to it, you really enjoy it. I especially like it when you’re in a race and you get off to a good start. When you’re in a good position you can take a look over your shoulder and you see everyone else behind you. That’s just a really good feeling. It’s also a different experience every day. The wind changes all the time. I like the challenge.