Becoming a Champion

Every success story begins with failure. I began my sailing career in Optis, and for years I saw hardware in other peoples hands at regattas, but never my own. For three summers I’d attend these events and always walk away empty handed while the same kids seemed to place all the time.

I was thirteen, standing in the back at the awards ceremony as I’d always done. This makes me sound old, but in 2008 results weren’t published immediately online- we’d have to wait for the awards ceremony to see our finishing place. Suddenly, my name was called and needless to say I was confused. I hadn’t finished first in any races nor did I think I’d ever place at a regatta. So I worked my way through the crowd and bashfully accepted my third place Opti award. I hadn’t perfected the pose yet for photos so I quickly walked off after shaking hands with the PRO. My grin didn’t leave my face until I got home, I was hooked and finally had the confidence I’d lacked.  Everyone starts empty handed but if you work hard and keep at it, you’ll see success come your way.

Burke Anvari did just that and has undoubtedly been the top Laser Standard sailor in JSA of LIS for the 2016 season. Anvari won four regattas in a row and tied for first in the one regatta he didn’t win. With impressive results like this, you might think Anvari has always been going home with hardware, but according to him this is not the case. Anvari says in his early years, he always aspired to be one of the kids on his game at regattas but had never won himself. His first regatta win did not come until the 2016 Law Trophy, hosted by Indian Harbor in Greenwich.

The Law Trophy not only signals the start of the JSA regatta season, Anvari had also accomplished his long-sought goal of winning an event. This lit a fire under Anvari. Cedar Point Yacht Club, his home club, has a racing mentality and results are important. Anvari says the approval and respect that came from winning made it all the more worth it. So with the support of his club and coaches Anvari decided to set a new goal- to win every single regatta. He got pretty darn close too. He finished 1st at Eastern Districts, with two bullets. Anvari then went on to win Larchmont Junior Race week, and finally finish first at his home club’s junior race week. When asked what his favorite moment of the season was he said, “I thought it might be winning at home, but it wasn’t”.  Anvari says his favorite memory of the summer was winning that first regatta. Anvari used to see himself as a nervous sailor, letting the little things throw him off. While he still has trouble remaining confident, Anvari says that now doubting himself is what makes him better. His drive to remain at the top makes him work harder during practice and at regattas.

I was on a coach boat during the Shelter Island 420/Laser Regatta, when Anvari was already on my radar. I watched him as he prepared for racing. During a long postponement, Anvari would be the only one with sails trimmed and sailing up the course. Everything he did before racing was as if he was in the race. While others lounged and capsized, Anvari was focused and determined.

Anvari doesn’t go into these regattas with a set game plan, he’ll consult with Julia Monro and Haley Kachmar his coaches before and after racing, but always has an open mind to the racing. But for every event Anvari goes in humble, assuming he’ll be challenged and have to work his way from the back to the front of the fleet.

It’s no easier to be at the top of the fleet than the bottom, every bit of the way whether it be in a race, or a season, a sailor can never sit back and let talent do the work. Anvari’s mother Lynn’s comment on her son’s success seems to be an apt way to close: “I watched him lose as he learned the sport. He decided how he wanted to perform and dedicated himself to it. Seeing him work hard with so much commitment, and have a great season has been incredibly rewarding. I’m not sure proud really covers it.”