Hong Kong is a long way from home, but that’s where Surrey’s Josh Smithson, 17, will find himself for almost a month.
Top 29er sailors Smithson and Henrik Parker will be spending December and the beginning of January in Hong Kong for the ‘29er Worlds 2018’ sailing championship.
The duo will be partaking in three world events during a month of sailing in Asia.
“It will be really tiring by the end of it all,” said Smithson. “I’ll be really sore.”
During the month of action, Smithson says that they will only have three days off for Christmas. Otherwise, they’ll be out on the water.
Despite the grueling schedule that lies ahead of Smithson and Parker, the duo already has some experience traveling overseas for tournaments.
In August, the pair traveled to Quiberon, France for the 2017 29er European Championship.
For Smithson, it was his first championship overseas.
“It was crazy for me,” he said. “There were three days of racing and we did better than we expected.”
During the championships in France, nearly 200 boats competed. The top 50 boats ended up in the gold fleet, with Smithson and Parker narrowly missing out on that feat.
“We came 56th out of 200 boats,” said Smithson. “It was a great experience for though, we had a lot of fun.”
Smithson started having fun with sailing as soon as he tried it out for the first time in 2011, as an 11-year-old.
“I just started doing it in the daytime and I got hooked. After that I joined racing and moved up from there.”
The Kwantlen Park Secondary student trains with Parker out of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. That’s where he first met Parker in 2016, and the two have been training hard every since.
After sailing together for a little over a year, Smithson and Parker have nailed down where their strengths are on the water.
“It’s all about communicating and knowing your partner and what you have to do,” said Smithson. “His job is more about tactics on the water, while my job is to keep the boat sailing flat and keeping it fast.”
It’s been a time consuming sport for Smithson preparing for worlds. Now, Smithson and Parker shoot for even better results during the biggest tournament of their young careers.
“I’m a little bit nervous,” admits Smithson.
The pair does face an uphill battle considering that sailing isn’t a sport that’s heavily funded in Canada. Smithson notes that many of the European teams he faced in France had lots of funding.
“It’s highly funded in Europe, but for us, looking for funders is hard.”
Only one other Canadian team aside from Smithson and Parker will travel to Hong Kong. In France earlier this year, Smithson and Parker were the highest-ranked North American dream.
Still, the pair is off to a good start in their young careers. Although they’re still high schoolers, their competing at a level just below the Olympics.
“[The Olympics] is always the end goal, but it’s still pretty far away,” he said. “Hopefully, sailing is something I’m gonna do for the rest of my life.”