Graeme has been part of the class since 2000 and has racked up multiple victories, including four top-three finishes at the Worlds and four Australian National titles. For this year’s Nationals, he teamed up with James Mayo and Tom Slingsby and won the regatta with a race to spare, despite the varied bag of wind strengths in Port Phillip Bay.
In an experienced fleet with so many competitive boats, Graeme stresses that keeping a level head is key. “Never rip up your tickets! You will not always be at the front but there are usually a lot of opportunities in each race to improve your position. It’s always a long regatta and it is important to focus on the overall goal. Bad results and tough days are just part of the sport. You can never be perfect in every race and catch every shift during a regatta. I think it is important to know your team well and understand how they overcome obstacles.’’
Asked about the pressure of being one of the favorites, Graeme replied, “We don’t care about being seen as one of the favorites and it does not affect our performance at all. Generally, I feel like other boats do not want to engage with or tack onto us. If they want to follow us, we are good with that because they are already behind!’’
Graeme says the team’s consistent top-five results came from a positive mental attitude, along with finding what worked and sticking with it. “The start and the first windward leg are very important. We try to stick to a standard routine around the start line to make life easy. Every race is a new race and we see each one as a new opportunity for a good result.’’
“Every race is a new race and we see each one as a new opportunity for a good result.’’
He also has some advice for anyone looking to up their game in 2020. “I have always told myself that all of the great sailors are human too and not to be intimidated by them; they only have two legs, two arms, two eyes, two ears, and one brain, the same as me, so there is no reason why I can’t beat them! There are many talented sailors in the Etchellsfleet, and being a class member for such a long time, it’s great to constantly be challenged. Train and sail lots, and the results will come.’’
Team Magpie is already thinking ahead to the 2020 Worlds in Fremantle in November. “We have a lot of opportunities to improve our downwind speed through technique and different modes, so we will use the limited time we have to train to be as effective as we can be in this area.’’