His rise to the podium at the 2023 ILCA under-21 world championship may seem like a sensational solo effort but Caleb Armit credits teamwork for one of the proudest moments of his young sailing career.
The 18-year-old last week achieved his first international success in the ILCA 7 (Laser) by taking out the bronze against 114 other competitors from 31 nations after a less-than-ideal start to the regatta in Tangier, Morocco.
Armit was 16th overall after the first day of competition but managed six top-ten results in 11 races, including two thirds, to fight his way into medal contention.
“It was pretty tough and quite high scoring, with some big variation between some of the days. A couple of the days, it was up to 30 knots and then on another day it was down around five knots, but I just tried to stay consistent and slowly climb up the leaderboard,” Armit said.
“This result is definitely up there with my third at last year’s [ILCA 6] youth world championships.”
Despite having some experience on the world stage – Armit this year competed at the Princess Sofia Regatta in Spain, the French Olympic week in Hyeres, and the sailing world championships in The Hague - the soft-spoken Aucklander was as surprised as anyone by his success in the North African city.
“I didn't really have any expectations. I was just trying to figure it out each day on the water – to have a good regatta and see where I could end up,” Armit said.
He was grateful to have Phil Douglas in Morocco with him as his coach, as well as in the lead-up training for the event in New Zealand.
"It was great being able to have Phil there and to have his support throughout the event."
Armit believes working with Yachting New Zealand coach Mark Howard and the rest of the ILCA 7 sailing group – including former world champion Tom Saunders and George Gautrey, New Zealand’s only medallist in The Hague – also helped him.
“It’s great being able to talk to Mark and the more experienced Laser sailors, to get their view on things and ask them questions and have that ability to speak openly during briefings and debriefs.”
Caleb wasn’t the only Armit to make waves in the last few weeks – older brother Josh placed fourth at the wingfoil racing World Cup in Cagliari only days after being included in the NZL Sailing Team following a string of top-10 iQFOIL (windfoil) results over the European summer.
The 21-year-old has had a remarkable rise in the growing class since switching from the ILCA 7 in late 2020.
Caleb has no similar plans just yet.
“I'm having a lot of fun with the Laser at the moment. It's a big challenge and a big step up from sailing in the Radial (ILCA 6) and I am enjoying it a lot,” he said.
“I love that everyone, within reason, has more or less the same speed so it comes down to tactical racing. It’s also not much boat work, so you have a lot of time on the water.”
His next goal is to have a strong showing at the Australian nationals and the ILCA world championships in Adelaide early next year – while also playing his part in helping to shape the next generation of Kiwi sailors.
“I’ll be doing a lot of training between now and Adelaide and just learning as much as I can,” Armit said.
“I’m also coaching a lot of the kids down at Murrays Bay Sailing Club. It keeps me busy but it’s something I really enjoy.”
Final results and standing at the 2023 ILCA under-21 world championships in Tangier, Morocco
ILCA 7 fleet (115 boats)
1st: Finley Dickinson (GBR) 4 7 1 1 7 4 10 4 1 (45) 1 - 40 points
2nd: Oskar Madonich (Ukr) 13 2 16 4 1 6 4 2 2 6 (18) - 56 pts
3rd: Caleb Armit (NZ) 11 9 4 9 3 14 (30) 3 14 5 13 - 85 pts
ILCA 6 fleet (66 boats)
1st: Eve McMahon (Irl) 13 1 9 5 1 1 2 9 5 (35) 8 - 54 pts
2nd: Anja von Allmen (Sui) 17 3 7 7 2 6 5 10 7 (31) 4 - 68 pts
3rd: Carlotta Rizzardi (Ita) 14 2 25 9 5 3 1 1 (28) 4 17 - 81 pts
Full results here.