I started sailing four years ago when my mum bought a boat and realised our family didn’t really know how to sail. Not long after, my mum enrolled me in a learn to sail program through Woollahra sailing club on Opti’s.
After my first learn to sail camp I began to sail R.S feva’s and Elliot 6m from the CYCA. I was terrified of sailing for a long time with the fear of capsizing and heavy breeze but my mum made me go anyway because she and my brother loved sailing.
About half a year later I started school sailing with a small group of girls from my school. We attempted teams racing on pacers competing against the other boy’s schools. When our team first started sailing we spent most of our time crashing on the start line and capsizing if the breeze got stronger then 15 knots.
Sailing with my school team really built up my confidence in sailing and as a team we progressed from being the ones that always lost to state girl’s champions qualifying the for teams racing nationals.
Six months earlier, I started sailing laser 4.7s when a polish coach came through WSC encouraging the laser program to form. My friend from school sailing and I joined in with this program where we learnt to sail lasers. Even though I was still an inexperienced sailor I ended competing in Sail Melbourne which was my first sailing regatta ever.
I went down to Melbourne with NB Sail Sports who looked after me. Melbourne was a really fun experience for me and I met heaps of people and ended coming 18th overall which was a surprise when I was expecting to come last. This regatta really inspired my sailing and made me more keen to continue laser sailing.
This year a friend I had met through laser sailing encouraged me to try out for the NSW Youth Sailing Team.
I will always remember the day of the try outs as it was the same day my school team were racing to qualify for the state girl’s championship. After finishing my final team race for the day I was rushed ashore where I quickly hopped onto my laser to sail for my try out.
After sailing well at the try out I hurried back ashore soaking wet from the rain to receive my medal with my school team for teams racing. A couple of months later I got the email confirming that I had qualified for the NSW Youth Sailing Team (YST).
Being part of the YST helped me get into my first year of competing on a laser. I have been travelling around Australia for regattas such as Queensland youth week, NSW youth champs and will be going to compete in Sail Melbourne, Sail Sydney as well as open and youth nationals in Perth later this year.
My best result from the regatta’s I have competed at this year was at Queensland Youth Week where I made a great come back from 31st on the first day to 7th overall and first girl to finish, which I was really proud of. Right after NSW Youth Champs I progressed from the 4.7 to the radial which I am currently training on now. My goals for the future is qualify the Australian women’s youth rep at nationals within the next three years.
Being part of YST has been a great experience for me because I really enjoy the friends I’ve made in the team and I love competing at regattas as a representative of NSW. I enjoy sailing a lot now and I am training up to five days a week with members from my team as well as international sailors training from my club to prepare for nationals which are coming up soon.
– Marlena Berzins
NOTE: Marlena has spent the week doing work experience with Australian Sailing + Yachting magazine. We wish her all the best in the future and look forward to sharing her success with you.