Having started university last September I decided to take a bit of a step back from Laser sailing in order to broaden my sailing experience. Up until this point it had very much been focused on single handed sailing.
Whilst at university I have been part of the sailing team taking part in the university team racing circuit. This has been great fun as team racing is a very different discipline to the fleet racing I was used to. I also joined a team of 3 other sailors taking part in the Royal London Yatch Club Etchells Youth academy. This involved 4 weekends of training in Cowes before a final weekend of racing where the top teams had the opportunity to be awarded a boat to race for the remainder of the season. This was a great opportunity to learn about sailing a really technical class as well as experience new challenges like managing a team.
Unfortunately, we lost two weekends to bad weather and the trials had to be brought forwards to a reduced day of racing on the final weekend. We had a great day of racing and came away winning the day. As a result of this we have been awarded “Ziggy” to race for the remainder of the season. Unfortunately, Cornavirus has put at stop to the Etchells calender for the time being for we are unsure how this arrangement will play out.
During lockdown I have been keeping sane with lots of cycling, home workouts and catching up with university work. With restrictions on water sports now eased I am grateful for my Laser as it perfect for getting out sailing while remaining socially distant. The majority of summer events have been cancelled however there is still some hope for some smaller Laser events late in the season. As for the Etchells this is much less likely as it involved 3 or 4 people from different households in a very cramped environment.
Since my last blog I have made the jump from sailing the Laser Radial (female Olympic class) to sailing the Laser Standard (men’s Olympic class), as I am now too old to compete as a youth in the Radial.
The difference between the two classes is that the men’s class has a much larger sail. This makes it much more physical and has meant I have had to increase my weight from 75kg to 80-83kg which has been one of the main focuses of the winter. This has involved a lot of weight sessions at a great local gym, The Mint Yard, and lots of eating!
As well as this, I have been training alongside the UK Youth Squad to get up to speed as quickly as possible.
In the spring, I competed at the RYA Youth National Championships where I finished 6th out of 12.
One of the biggest challenges I have faced this year has been balancing sailing with completing my A-levels in Maths, Further Maths and Physics. This has meant sacrificing the amount of time spent on the water compared to previous years in order to study. Hopefully this will result in me being able to accept my place at Bristol University to study Engineering Mathematics. Thankfully now all my exams are behind me I can refocus on sailing and the summer ahead.
Upon finishing my A-levels, I headed to Kiel for the 125th Kieler Woche, where over 1500 sailors were competing in a mix of different classes. I treated this as a warm up event as I had not competed in a long time but it was also a fantastic experience.
Back in April after winning the RYA Laser Radial Youth Nationals I was selected as the boys Laser Radial representative for Great Britain at the World Sailing Youth Worlds, in Corpus Christi Texas. After finding this out I was keen to start my preparations as soon as possible, unfortunately I had to take a short break for exams! As soon as they were over it was full steam ahead sailing almost every day combined with lots of time at the gym and on the bike.
Fast forward to July and it was time for the long flight out, from Heathrow to Houston and then onto Corpus Christi with the rest of the GB Team. Stepping outside for the first time the heat and humidity was intense, the air felt incredibly heavy. Thankfully the next few days were planned acclimatisation, so the heat did get slightly more bearable. All the sailors from 66 different nations and coaches were staying in one hotel so there was a really amazing atmosphere.
All the equipment for the event was provided, although I still had to bring my own rope for my boat, so Saturday was spent setting the boat up and going for a quick practice. Next day was the practice race which never gets taken too seriously as it’s considered bad luck to actually finish! This was followed by the opening ceremony which took place in the American Bank Centre which was absolutely gigantic!
Racing began on the Monday with two races planned each day apart from Friday. Corpus delivered perfect sailing conditions with 15-20 knots everyday with waves. As well as the air being hot the sea was around 30ᵒC which made a change from the Solent! The first day brought a shaky start for me as I was disqualified from the first race being over the start line, and had a mid-fleet result in the second. However for the rest of the week my results were very consistent and I managed to climb back to 21st in the fleet of 58 boats. The week ended with the medal ceremony, where some of my team mates picked up gold and silver in their respective classes. Great Britain also finished 4th in the nations trophy rounding out a great week for the team.
All in all there were some real positives from the racing, from where my sailing had improved and couple of things I still need to work on, before my next event the Radial Youth Worlds in Kiel. It was a fantastic experience travelling to a new place, meeting new people from all around the world, to competing with the best youth sailors – something I will never forget.
On the opening day of arguably the world’s largest sporting event, AMFA are teaming up with Southampton’s AND Guide, to offer you a free Footie gift. Download your Footie poster now, to plan your matches! And don’t miss the 60 Things You Never Knew article, but watch out there is a false one hidden, can you spot it?
You can read latest issue of the AND Guide here.
Enjoy the games, from all the team at AMFA!
Over this winter I have been working harder than ever, out most weekends at my home club (Stokes Bay), interspersed with weekends away at Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy or Royal Lymington Yacht Club for coaching. I’ve also been working with ex-Youth Squad coach Ross Harvey to improve my racing skills – the hours spent out on the water over the winter months have started to pay dividends.
I’ve just returned from the RYA Youth Championships in Largs, Scotland which were held in the first week of the Easter holidays.
The conditions were extremely challenging with a mixture of strong winds and sub-zero temperatures! As a result the first two days a racing were cancelled much to my disappointment. By Wednesday it was still cold and windy but the decision was taken to launch.
Despite only achieving two races on the first day, I achieved a 1st in the second race leaving me in 5th place overall and my goal of securing a place in Youth Squad seemed a real possibility. On day two I consolidated my position with some consistent results including another 1st! Going into the last day I was still in 5th position but with only 4 points between me and first place the event was still wide open. It was another windy day (my favourite conditions) and with two third places in the final races I finished the event in 1st place and was crowned RYA Youth National Champion in the Laser Radial Boys fleet!
I couldn’t be happier with my result which also means I have realised my ambition of a place in the RYA Youth Squad. It promises to be a busy and exciting summer of sailing; I have been selected to represent Great Britain at the 2018 Youth Sailing Worlds Championships in Corpus Christi, Texas in July. Only one sailor per class is eligible so I feel very privileged to be selected. This is followed by the Laser Youth World Championships in Kiel in August.
These events will be challenging, hugely rewarding and a big learning curve as I will be competing against the best youth sailors from around the world.
In addition to my on water training I’ve also been busy working on my physical fitness, either running, cycling or working out in my home gym. I’ve also recently qualified as Level 2 RYA Race Coach which allowed me to help coach a local Topper squad which I’ve really enjoyed.