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Olivia Christie

Sailor's Corner with Olivia Christie

Issue date

In the first of a regular blog from a host of New Zealand sailors, Olivia Christie writes about what it meant for her to win the Sir Peter Blake Memorial Trophy and what more she needs to do to achieve on the international stage.

Looking down on the list of previous winners, it was hard to not get a tingle up my spine.

With the likes of Jo Aleh, Sam Meech and Peter Burling on the trophy, it was special to see my
name join the list.

It was an unexpected honour to receive the Sir Peter Blake Memorial Trophy earlier this month after winning the Laser Radial class at the Sir Peter Blake Regatta. It has given me great confidence and highlighted to me how far I have come in the last few years I have been sailing the Laser Radial.

Results haven’t always come easily for me. I was at the back of the fleet in my first national
championships and at the back again for my first and second world championships.

I have slowly worked my way to the top through hard work both on and off the water – the winter
training days, the hours in the gym and perseverance. I had to believe I would get there and believe it would come eventually.

I still have a long way to go to realise my dream of not just competing at the Olympics but winning
a medal. Tokyo 2020 is still a possibility but Paris 2024 might be a more realistic option.

Regardless, 2019 is shaping up to be a really important year for me, just as this year was. I have made some massive improvements and done a lot of racing in the international women’s fleet.

I’m really excited to get back on the international circuit in March when I begin a block of four
regattas in Europe before heading to Japan for some more racing, including the Laser Radial world championships.

At this stage of my career, I need hours on the water and the racecourse to build up my skills, but I am also discovering the mental side of sailing can have just as much impact on results as speed, boathandling and strategy.

To make gains in this area I need to be able to identify when I’m not sailing well because I have lost focus on what is important, and re-engage with the feel and flow of the boat.

The simpler the better when it comes to sailing. Sailing is an extremely complex sport with so much to think about, but once you are racing it all needs to be condensed and made easy. That’s what it was like at this year’s sailing world championships in Aarhus, when I finished fourth in one race.

I started well in that race, managed the fleet and was winning around the top mark. It was awesome to be at the front of that fleet and it’s amazing how it just happens sometimes. It’s something I hope I experience more and more.

There is a very long process behind getting good results at international regattas and it’s not
something I can do on my own. I am always grateful to the amazing people who have helped and supported me along the way, both from my club and through my transition into the high-performance environment.

It’s important to have role models, not necessarily as idols, but as solid mentors. In sailing we are very lucky that some of our best sailors, coaches and support people are friendly, approachable and always willing to help out.

As a female sailor, I know how hard the path can be for girls coming through and more than once I have nearly given up sailing. But there are some incredibly inspiring female sailors out there and it's important to remember that, no matter how hard it seems, if you can learn to ask for assistance, you will find there are so many people who want to support you.

It was humbling to receive the Sir Peter Blake Memorial Trophy but it has given me confidence in my potential and inspired me to transfer that potential into performances.