Her first ever trip sailing didn’t end too well, but only a few years later Isabella Wright is headed to the Youth Sailing World Championships.
The global event will take place in Gdynia, Poland from 13 to 20 July and brings together hundreds of the world’s finest sailors aged 19 and under.
It’ll certainly be a far cry from the first time she got in a boat six years ago.
“I first started sailing when I was 11 when a friend of mine took me sailing. The wind was incredibly light and she ended up pushing me out the boat and made me swim back pulling the boat behind me. Somehow I managed to instantly fall in love with the sport and started sailing,” explained Wright, who will be competing in the Laser Radial class.
The 17-year-old from Cape Town has also been selected to be a part of the World Sailing Emerging Nations Programme.
“The programme is run by World Sailing and aims to get more emerging nations to participate in sailing at an international level. In terms of what the event includes, there will be a week of training in Poland (at the venue of the Youth Worlds) which should be a valuable learning experience which I am very excited about, and it also assists in terms of funding to enable sailors to attend this event.”
As for the World Championships, Wright is not too sure what to expect from her rivals.
“At this stage it is hard to judge the fleet so I currently have very few expectations, but ideally I would like to be in the top half. This being said, the most important thing to me is to finish the event knowing I have given it my all and put everything I can into each race and have done the best I can.
“I haven’t been to Poland before, but have spoken to a few people who have been and have been told to expect just about any conditions.”
As for what she’s looking forward to most about competing at the event, Wright added: “I am incredibly excited and am especially looking forward to some extremely tough racing, putting my all into this event. The other thing I am excited about is meeting all the different people, the experience of sailing such a high-quality event as well as sailing in a new location far away.”
Wright will be joined on the South African team by Cullen Keytel (Laser Radial boys), Stephanie Goodyer and Liam Gunning (Mixed Multihull) and Rio Olympian Stefano Marcia, who will act as team leader.