Exclusive! Scott Leith Interview

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16 Dec 2013

Scott, congratulations on winning the Laser Masters Standard Apprentice World Championship.   Tell us a little bit about it, and it’s winter in the northern hemisphere, how did you cope with the cold?

Worlds this year were in Oman, in the first week of December which is the start of winter there and only 28-30 degrees all day long.  We had 14 kiwis compete.   It reaches 50 degrees Celsius in the middle of summer!  The forecast breeze and research told us that it would only be a thermal breeze of 6-12 knots, which would feel more like 5-10 knots due to the heat in the breeze and veer.  On arriving 6 days before the regatta, we picked up our early charter yachts after the usual 30 hours of travelling and by 3pm ish hit the water.  We had 5 Kiwis training together this day and we trained hard for about 2.5 hours until we were about 4 miles offshore, and as we turned to come downhill and back to the Marina at Musannah all of a sudden at 5.30pm it went dark....luckily we had a transit of where to head for and made it in and derigged in the dark....needless to say we were asked by all the other competitors over breaky the next day "were you one of those kiwis training in secret last night"! 

I made the decision to use the standard rig, having won the last 3 worlds in the radial rig.  I did this because I wanted a challenge, and I had a lot on having trained extensively in the radial with limited training in the standard rig.  Luckily, guys like Andy Maloney from our club had done his open worlds in Oman the week before and he gave me a lot of insights and I was able to quiz him a couple of times regarding the standard rig set up and Oman race track.  Also we had three world champs from Aus, Canada and Netherlands that we hooked up with in training and this proved to give me a lot of confidence as I got more and more sure of what, where and how to sail the standard rig in the 6-12 knots around the practice courses we made up before it kicked off. 

The venue is so sweet, with all 180 competitors from 30 countries in the same resort like hotel with full buffet breaky and dinner, after sailing each day was pasta, or rice with lamb, and fully aircon room etc. 

That’s your 4th world title  - don’t you think you are being a little bit greedy?

Yes - it’s my fourth world title in a row.  I guess I am greedy as I want to win a lot more yet!  I just love winning, whether it be social touch rugby or club racing or worlds I love to win...in fact many of my training partners probably know that I will try to win every practice drill, race, getting back to the beach, rigging, de-regging, I make it all one big competition.  I have a passion for yachting that so far has not waned from when I was a beginning sailor at Murrays Bay in the Optis. 

You forgot to mention the father’s race at MBSC!   Your scorecard; you had a to drop a 3 and a 2 – so where did it all go wrong in those two races?

Same routine each day, up early to the gym for an hour to ride and stretch, rig up early, up to room to 'chill out' in aircon and drink plenty of water then first out to race course to check tidal and wind data, do a practice lap with some kiwis then keep cool again, just one start at a time, first beat etc. so where I ended one race third I was thinking too much just trying to win the race.  I was in a 'bubble' just trying to go as fast as possible and take the quickest route...I rounded 8th after a big righty move the fleet ahead if me at the top mark and I put my head down til the very end if the race to finish third and just 4 boat lengths off first. 

How much do you attribute your success to the amazing Laser Fleet Coordinator at MBSC?

Without a doubt the 1,000 days of training and racing I have done over the last 6 years count for very little when I compare it to the difference the MBSC Laser Fleet Co-coordinator has made to my results! 

Sometimes people just need a little helping hand to make that big step, so glad I was able to help. How were the Arabic Night Party and Mid week Party?

You'd be surprised to know the parties were all done and dusted by 930pm, these mature sailors rather win in the race track than at the bar. 

Cripes have you told the Zephyr guys that!  Did you get to ride any camels?

Camel ride went wrong for the random guy that rode next to me before the first day.  He fell off dismounting forward and head butted the camel, I was then just a little worried on my dismount. 

Head-butting a camel ay – there’s a joke there somewhere but maybe not on the MBSC website.   Eat any dates (no pun intended)?

Love the white chocolate dates.

Any tips for any young fellas that want to shine at the Masters?

Train hard and be good to your partner (my wife is A M A Z I N G and inspires me to be all that I can).

Have you considered a career as a politician – no need to answer that?   Did you spot any potential MBSC recruits due to “Propeller Award” moments?

Brit Jon Emmet (coach to London gold medalist radial women) got sunstroke first day and had to pull out of racing as he forgot to wear a hat!

Yes read about that but I see he went on to recover and take the title – mad dogs and Englishmen!

Thanks very much for taking the time to tell us about your Oman foray  - sounds like a fantastic experience and once again congratulations on your outstanding success and also for your help with the Laser Fleet at MBSC.

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