Royal Victoria Yacht Club sailor Nick Smith rigs his laser standard for a weekly regatta earlier this month. Smith is in Hungary for this month's world laser sailing championships for men under-21.

Royal Victoria Yacht Club sailor Nick Smith rigs his laser standard for a weekly regatta earlier this month. Smith is in Hungary for this month's world laser sailing championships for men under-21.

Gordon Head teen racing at worlds

Nick Smith didn’t know he could race at the world championships. Once it was a reality, it changed things.

Nick Smith didn’t know he could race at the world championships. Once it was a reality, it changed things.

The 17-year-old Mount Douglas secondary student applied and qualified in February to race at the Balaton Laser Worlds 2013 Championships in Balatonfüred, Hungary, which start next week.

Smith is competing in the laser standard under-21 Men’s World and European Championship category, July 14 to 21.

“Once I qualified it changed sailing for me. It’s made me much more devoted to the sport,” he said on Sunday, derigging his boat before flying out on Monday.

“In the boat I train three times a week, but once I qualified I added four to five (gym) workouts to boost myself for the world level, and it’s helped.”

Smith will be joined by Max Gallant, a teammate from the Royal Victoria Yacht Club junior sailing program in Oak Bay under coach Eric Vanderpol.

Together they make up two of the five Canadians headed to Hungary for the lase standard.

“There’s only eight of us in total going from North America so I think it’s pretty cool we have two of the eight from Victoria,” Smith said.

Gym training has helped the Gordon Head resident grow far more comfortable and hungry, if you will, when racing the 4.2-metre-long boat.

“I’ve been a RVYC member since 2008 and moved to the laser radial (from the 420 starter dinghy) then to the standard when I was strong enough,” he said.

“To be only 17 at this world championship is young, so my expectation is to make the top-60 of the top 150 boats in the world.”

Smith is heading into Grade 12 next year and has lots of time to improve.

His most promising result this season was at the Midwinter Regatta in Los Angeles where he came 23rd among a field with the top laser standard sailors from western North America.

When he gets to Hungary, he’ll set up  a chartered laser with the rigging, lines and sail from his boat at RVYC.

“They only provide a hull and it’s my first time chartering a boat. Any time you go to a competition you have to de-rig your boat for the trailer so it’s not that different.”

sports@vicnews.com