With the sun on your back, the wind in your hair and the ocean glittering beneath you, all of life’s cares just wash away. It’s a feeling that Calum Gregor knows well. The King George V student has been sailing for nine years, and was brought up by parents who loved the waves. Now 17, Calum and his dedication to the sport is making him a formidable competitor. However, the serious sportsman doesn’t value being on the water because it is relaxing – he tells Young Post that he loves his sport for “the tactical decisions that have to be made.”
Calum first came to the attention of the SCMP in 2013 when he got the opportunity to join racing champion Ian Williams in a local regatta. Even at 14, his dedication was unshakeable. “I hope I can represent Hong Kong at the Olympics in 2020,” he said at the time. “I train very hard every weekend, eight hours a day, and will attend as many overseas events as possible.”
His sailing prowess has already taken him all over the world, and he has competed in Japan, Thailand, Singapore, New Zealand, Germany and Australia. Last July, he and his teammate Hugo Christensson took on the top 420 sailors in the world at the 420 Class World Championships in Karatsu, Japan. “We trained every weekend for a year taking part in as many international regattas as we could,” Calum says. To make sure the team was in peak condition for the competition, they warmed up at the Kiel Week, Germany’s annual regatta and largest sailing event in the world. They finished an impressive ninth, but had their sights on a higher ranking in Japan.
It was a windy day in Karatsu, and even though Calum and Hugo pride themselves on being fast under these conditions, they got a taste of disaster when their mast snapped. For many competitors, it would be enough to break their focus, but the pair pulled it back from the brink and placed third overall. Though they came in behind US rivals Jack Parkin and Wiley Rogers, their podium performance under challenging conditions made them stand out. When asked which sailor’s performance was the strongest, Calum is a pragmatic team player. “We are a team, there are no stand-out performances, you are only as good as your worst team member,” he reasons.
Instead of being scarred by the snapped mast saga, Calum ranks the mishap as one of the most memorable things that’s ever happened to him, alongside spotting dolphins gliding under his boat while racing in Australia. A true sportsman, he lives and breathes sailing. However, he uses downtime to play rugby, football and hang out with friends.
He says the most challenging aspect of being a sailor at such a high level is keeping motivated during the long periods in between competitions. Thanks to the fact that he comes from a family with strong sailing traditions, Calum’s introduction to the sport came early. He learned to sail at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club when he was six, before joining the club’s youth squad in 2012. He describes his childhood as “very fun”, explaining “we spent nearly all our time on the water with family and friends; racing, playing around and having fun.” Looking to the future, Calum is aiming high – practically as high as you can go in any sport. He says his ultimate goal is to “win an Olympic medal in the 470 or 49er class.”