Cayman Islands lone sailor, Jesse Jackson, 20, is preparing for his five days of Laser Standard competition, starting on Saturday, 3 August in Paracas Bay, Peru, a four-hour drive south of the main venues in Lima, Peru.
Jackson and his coach, Raphael Harvey have spent the last few days acclimatizing to the weather and sea conditions in Paracas.
“Overall the training has been going good. Since there is a lack of wind in the morning […] we go in the water in the afternoon. We tend to work on our own, to fine-tune our boat speed, make sure everything is good, and once we do that, we join the larger group, which consists of all the sailors that are at the [Pan American Games].”
Jackson will be up against 22 athletes from around the Pan Am region in Laser Standard. More than 165 athletes from 26 countries will compete in different sailboat classes at Lima 2019.
“Being with such a large group of international sailors is always great. I get to compare and see where I am currently at, what I have improved on since the last time and what I need to work on to consistently improve, so I can eventually get to the top.”
Relatively new to sailing and with only six years under his belt, Jackson is getting ready to sail at his first Pan American Games and his largest Games to date.
“Overall, I have set myself some technical sailing goals I want to achieve in each race and by achieving these goals […] this will allow me to sail faster and better.”
For more than 2,000 competitors, the Pan American Games may come with some added pressure, as it will serve as a qualifying event to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Jackson is navigating his course to the Summer Olympic Games, with the Pan American Games as a pit stop.
“These Games are an Olympic qualifier and there is one spot available [in Sailing] for the North American region, but there are nine countries here from the North American Region, who have not qualified for the Olympics. Overall it does add a little bit of pressure, once I stay focused, stay in tune and try to build on my sailing goals, I believe that anything can happen and I can qualify for the Olympics out here.”
Before attending these Games, Jackson had been training intensely for 7 weeks at the Viana Sailing Camp in Portugal, alongside Olympians from Seychelles.
“At the sail base, we typically sail in the mornings due to the lack of wind and in the afternoons if there is [wind] anywhere from 15 to 25 knots we go out sailing, which means great endurance training for the legs and hiking.”
Jackson also took part in several international regattas over the past few months, Croatia in December 2018, the USA in January and Peru in March. Jackson has also competed in regattas with his college sailing team at Solent University in Southampton, England.
After the Pan American Games, Jackson is scheduled to travel to Canada to compete in the World Championships in August, in hopes to qualify for the Olympics, if unsuccessful in Peru.
Jackson will be Cayman’s second athlete to compete at Lima 2019; swimmers John Bodden, Lauren Hew and Brett Fraser will begin their competitions on Tuesday, 6 August.
Bodden will be the first of the three to compete, slated for the 400m freestyle, 200m butterfly and 1500m freestyle. Hew and Fraser start their events on Wednesday, 7 August, competing in the 200m freestyle and 100m butterfly, respectively, with both also competing in the 100m and 50m freestyle.
Sprinter Kemar Hyman will also be competing on 6 August, in the prelims for the 100m.