TEN-year-old Joel Beashel of Balcolyn won two national sailing trophies over the school holidays, including one that his father – the America’s Cup sailor Adam Beashel – won 36 years ago.
Joel, who sails with South Lake Macquarie Amateur Sailing Club, at Sunshine, partnered clubmate Logan Radford, of Gosford, to win the 52nd national Flying Ant championship on Lake Illawarra.
A couple of weeks earlier, Joel won the 11-years division at the national Optimist championships in Hobart.
Winning the Flying Ant national title has proven a handy stepping stone for boys who have gone on to become some of Australia’s most successful sailors.
Among the former winners of that trophy are Will Ryan, the 470 class World Cup winner and Rio Olympic silver medalist; and Kyle Langford, a two-time America’s Cup sailor and RC44 World Championship winner.
“And 36 years ago, I won that trophy,” Mr Beashel said.
Mr Beashel was part of Team New Zealand at the 2003 America's Cup, and was strategist for Emirates Team New Zealand at the 2007 America's Cup campaign.
He is also an elite 49er sailor.
Mr Beashel said the Flying Ant was the perfect class for children who had graduated from the smaller Optimist class, but weren’t yet physically ready to sail larger craft.
“The Flying Ant really sets them up for the future if they can handle one of these at this age,” he said.
“Kids are making the jump to larger craft, but for many of them it’s too hard and too expensive.
“The Flying Ant is a lot cheaper, and a better size.”
Joel and Logan dominated the championship, winning seven of 10 races over four days.
Conditions in Hobart, however, were an eye-opener for the young sailor.
The national Optimist open championship was held at Sandy Bay, on the Derwent River, from January 2 to 10.
“The water there was really shifty, and it was a lot colder than it is here,” Joel said.
Mr Beashel said it was another great learning experience for his son.
“They were very testing conditions for 10-year-olds, with winds from 5 to 28 knots,” he said.
The sailing was an open junior event, so it meant Joel was racing children up to age 15.
“It was the first time Joel’s raced in strong winds against bigger kids.”
Mr Beashel said during preparation for the Optimist championship, the pair joked about Joel needing a rugby league approach for taking on the 15-year-olds on the water.
“We said he had to be like a good halfback, and tackle the big kids around the ankles.”
Mr Beashel said he needn’t have worried because Joel excelled in matching it with the bigger kids.
He won the 11-years division comfortably, and finished 24th in a field of 140 in the Open division.
In retrospect, the pair might have done more preparation for the Hobart conditions than concerning themselves with bigger kids trying to push Joel around on the water.
“We needed to train more here [Lake Macquarie] in the winter during gusty westerlies,” Mr Beashel said.
Joel said one of his sailing idols was Wangi Wangi’s Nathan Outteridge, the gold medal winner in the 49ers at the London Olympics, and silver medalist at Rio.
He looks forward to making the transition to racing 29ers and 49ers in his teens.
In the meantime, he has some handy tutors at home in father, Adam, and mum, Lanee, a four-time Olympian who raced windsurfers.
Mr Beashel said he continued to be impressed by Joel’s ability to take in information, process it, and remember it.
“And the questions he asks me after an event blow me away. He’ll ask about something 95 per cent of the other kids won’t have noticed.
“His awareness is amazing.”