Jackson ends sailing season on high note

Jesse Jackson won his category at Abanca Sailing Week in Spain and proudly poses with the Cayman flag.

The hard work on high seas is finally paying off for Jesse Jackson.

Jackson, who represented Cayman in sailing in the Pan American Games earlier this summer, took a victory at Abanca Sailing Week in Spain last week in the Laser Standard category.

Jackson bested eight other competitors in his category, reaping dividends from a summer spent intensively working on his sailing skills. Jackson, reached by phone on Tuesday, said he was proud of his performance and that the victory was a great milestone on the international stage.

“I was kind of overwhelmed. I was really happy,” he said. “At first, I wasn’t really looking for the win. Me and my coach, we were focusing on some smaller goals of what we wanted to achieve. I think the main thing was focussing on the small goals, and then the overall goals will come. It was a real eye-opener.”

Jackson, who is about to start another school year at Solent University in Southampton, England, said that he spent his summer training every day with high performance sailors in Portugal.

Every day, he’d hit the gym in the morning and the water in the afternoon. And if the wind did not permit that schedule on a given day, he’d hit the water in the morning and work out later.

Jesse Jackson was master of the elements en route to winning his Laser Standard category at Abanca Sailing Week in Vigo, Spain.

Jackson finished 21st out of 22 competitors at the Pan American Games, but a month later, he found himself sailing on a smaller stage and winning two of the three races in his event.

“The place we sailed at was very beautiful,” he said of Vigo, Spain. “It had a lot of islands around which made it a little tricky because the winds come off the islands and you get some light shifting waves. There were a lot of dolphins in the area jumping around. It was really nice.”

On the smaller stage, with only eight other boats in his category, Jackson could exhale and let his training work for him. He won the first and second races of the three-race event, and he finished third in the final outing to narrowly outpace Bruno Gonzalez-Manjoya in their Laser Standard class.

The victory capped his eventful summer and will give him inspiration in the coming months.

“Competing in the Pan American Games, you had 22 boats with top, top sailors from each country,” said Jackson. “When I was there, I didn’t really hit my goals and didn’t really perform as well. But it really helped. I wasn’t nervous [in Spain]. I felt a lot more pressure at the Pan American Games.

“Here, I could really relax. Everything flowed together. The Pan Am Games definitely prepared me. I know I can compete on the Pan American level. I can pretty much compete on any level.”