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Curro Hillcrest Learner Participates in ILCA Laser Nationals

Michaela Barrett, a 14-year-old learner from Curro Hillcrest, earlier this week placed ninth in this year's ILCA Laser Nationals hosted by Point Yacht Club off Durban. Michaela formed part of a seven man team and sailed offshore for the first time only three weekends ago, making this all the more impressive.

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Following on from Women’s Day, young Michaela Barrett was the only lady in the small army representing Henley Midmar Yacht Club competing in the ILCA Laser Nationals hosted by Point Yacht Club offshore of Durban. Barrett, who is a learner at Curro Hillcrest,  was part of a seven ‘man’ team representing the inland yacht club, competing against some of the biggest names in Laser sailing. Having only recently started sailing offshore, Michaela had a grand adventure, filled with some good skills learnt in the heavy conditions. “The first time I sailed offshore was three weekends ago, in training – building up to the regatta. Due to school, my only gaps to sail are on weekends.”

The youngster, who is only 14 years old, was delighted to be participating in her first ever Laser Nationals. “I have sailed in a Youth Nationals event last year, but this is the biggest regatta I have sailed in. I am preparing for Youth Nationals again, which will be taking place at my home club at Midmar.” “I am hoping to improve my rank and know that the Laser Nationals have given me so much growth. My biggest lesson offshore of Durban; when you are scared witless, just hike harder! The conditions were the worst I have sailed in. It was gusting up to 26knots and the waves were nearly 2meters high, but the experience has made me so much more comfortable with my boat.”

The budding sailor notched up some impressive results, finishing ninth overall. She opened up her regatta with two sixth places, two eighths, four ninths and two elevenths which were both her allocated race discards. “I had two best moments over the event – the first was on the opening day finding out that in two of my races I came sixth. The second best moment was on the second day when I was sailing back to shore and a stingray jumped out the water right next to my boat. Just magical!” Other Henley Midmar Yacht Club competitors were Jethro Brophy Tintinger who finished second in the ILCA 6 Class.

Just behind him, Aaron Ward finished fourth, followed by Connor McLoughlin in eleventh. Thomas Street had a disruptive start to his regatta, missing his first race due to the N3 road closure on Thursday, so was playing catch up and settling the nerves. He finished in fifteenth overall, with Matthew Olsen ending his nationals two behind Street in seventeenth. The only inland sailor from Henley Midmar Yacht Club to compete in the full rig event was Luke Wagner in the Apprentice Master category. The highly experienced sailor hasn’t competed on a Laser in years, and relished his time on the water finishing seventh in the ILCA 7s class. Henley Midmar Yacht Club will be hosting several big events this year, including the Dart Nationals and then the Youth Nationals in December.