The Seychelles' Rodney Govinden has some big shoes to fill as he comes into his first major regatta at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships.
Govinden's compatriot, Allan Julie
, has a long Olympic sailing history having competed at four Olympic Games. His first came in 1996 in Atlanta, USA where he placed 38th in the Laser. Julie was also the Seychelles' flag bearer at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
And at Perth 2011 Govinden
is flying the Seychelles flag as he begins his own Olympic adventure.
Govinden began sailing a year before Julie competed at Atlanta 1996 and has come a long way, "I started sailing when I was 11 years old back home. I started in Optimist for three years and then moved on up into the Standard. So it was quite a quick learning curve going straight into the Standard. I am quite light so it took quite a while to get used to it but I've got quite a long experience with 13 years of sailing."
With experience of sailing locally and within Africa for the past 13 years, Govinden is taking everything in his stride and whilst not expecting to qualify the Seychelles for London 2012 at Perth 2011, he is keen to learn from the regatta. "This will be my first World Championships,"
said Govinden, "So this will be more of a learning experience. I will try my best to try and qualify, but if I can't then I will learn as much as I can in this regatta."
Julie and Govinden recently went head to head at the All African Games in Maputo, Mozambique and it was Julie who topped the podium following nine out of ten race victories. And for Govinden, sailing alongside the African sailing icon has been a great experience. "Allan is an idol of mine,"
said Govinden. "He has left some big shoes to fill and I will try and follow in his footsteps and try and be as great a sailor as he was.
"I have learnt from him as he was coaching us for the last six months for the All African Games and he was also sailing with us so we learnt lots from him and developed from his experience.
"He is also very competitive and very fast downwind. It is always good to sail against him as he is a good sailor and it helps to bring our level up."
Julie is using his experience from Olympic sailing and passing it onto the 27-year-old Govinden and believes he has the attributes to become a good sailor. "Rodney has all the qualities one needs to be a good sailor, but he has to work on some details in manoeuvring his boat, especially in upwind situation,"
said Julie after the All African Games.
Govinden opened up his Perth 2011 campaign today in the Laser yellow fleet. With 85 points overall he is in 121st place. Thirty five of 48 Laser spots available for London 2012 are on offer at Perth 2011 and at the end of the opening day of sailing Govinden is the 57th ranked nation of the 65 competing in the 147-boat Laser fleet.
The Seychellois sailor will continue his campaign at Perth 2011 tomorrow when the Lasers set sail at 12:00 local time.
The Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships website will bring you results, tracking, live updates and all the latest news both on and off the water.