Queen’s student represents Canada at Youth Sailing World Championships

Matti Muru fulfills childhood goal of representing country in sailing competition 

Matti Muru at the Youth Sailing World Championships.
Matti Muru at the Youth Sailing World Championships.
Supplied by Sailing Energy

While most students were bundling up and sleeping in during the winter break, Matti Muru travelled to Auckland, New Zealand to compete in the Youth Sailing World Championships for a week on the Dec. 4.

Muru’s love of sailing began early in his life with his father’s heavy involvement in the sport, which meant that Muru grew up around the water and boats. He began to competitively sail at the age of nine and by age 14 was training with the goal of attending the Youth Sailing World Championships, what he refers to as “every young sailor’s dream.”

The unpredictable nature of the sport drew Muru in from an early age. “Unlike most sports, there are a ton of variables involved. From changes in wind direction to currents pushing boats ahead, just about anything can happen in a sailing race,” Muru said. “To me that’s what makes sailing so exciting, you can never be certain of what’s going to happen.”

Muru found out he would be competing in the Laser Radial Boys category of the Youth Sailing World Championships in late September, when Sail Canada called him with the news. His reaction was immediate happiness. “As soon as I heard, my roommate and I were jumping on the bed celebrating,” Muru said. “I couldn’t have been more happy to be given the opportunity.”

Preparation for the Youth Worlds is years in the making. To attend the competition, each participant must be considered the best youth sailor in his or her country. This level of expertise from the competitors makes the Championship the “pinnacle of youth sailing” for Muru. Muru himself had put in “countless hours on the water and in the gym” in preparation for the competition.  

While Muru was thrilled to be able to attend the Championship, he decided to treat the competition “like its just another day in the office.” Due to the significance of the event for young sailors like Muru, it’s easy to become overwhelmed or nervous. 

“Going into an event like Youth Worlds, it’s really easy to get caught up with all of the spectacle. For everyone there, it’s the most important sailing event of their life so far, so it’s really easy to get nervous,” Muru said.

Nerves are natural with the level of competition. “There are so many great sailors that you can’t afford to make any mistakes,” Muru said. “It was one of the toughest fleets I’ve ever raced in. Although it was challenging, it was a great experience to be able to sail on the world stage.”

The Championships’ structure consisted of two races each day over a span of four days, followed by one race on the final day — 9 races in total. Muru found each race to be a unique challenge. 

“Every race brought different conditions, making it super challenging for the sailors. I had some great moments, but in general I was having a tough time calling the wind shifts, which left me with some inconsistent scores.”

Muru said that emotions were particularly high before the first race. “Everyone is very tense. Our entire lives we’ve spent training boils down to this one event, and at the end of the week, someone is going to be crowned the World Champion.”

In the end, Muru’s result wasn’t what he had initially hoped for. “I finished 26th of 60 boats. My goal was to be top ten, so obviously I was pretty disappointed by my result,” Muru said. 

“I’ve competed in three other World Championships, my best finish being 12th. Although it was not my best finish, I gained lots of experience competing on the world stage. Every mistake for me is a lesson learned, so I’m using the Worlds as a learning experience to continue improving my sailing.”

Muru is now starting to think about his next steps in sailing. While he is going to focus on school during the winter and spend the summer sailing, he hasn’t lost sight of his goals. “The Olympics have always been a dream of mine, and attending Youth Worlds means that I am on the right track to get there.”

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