Laser Europeans 2018

Laser Europeans 2018

Upon finishing my successful first ever world cup I then made my way straight to La Rochelle in the team van, ready to prepare for the upcoming Laser Europeans, one of the biggest events of the year.

 Getting straight back into training once we arrived we were greeted with some of the craziest on the water conditions I have ever sailed in. Massive pressure differences, 60 degree shifts and variable tides meant it really was an exciting build up to the event!

Getting straight back into training once we arrived we were greeted with some of the craziest on the water conditions I have ever sailed in. Massive pressure differences, 60 degree shifts and variable tides meant it really was an exciting build up to the event!

 Racing was like a game of snakes and ladders.

Racing was like a game of snakes and ladders.

 Exiting a tack in training. Really need to work on my facial expressions!

Exiting a tack in training. Really need to work on my facial expressions!

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 A busy start line in training.

A busy start line in training.

 After 4 days on the water training I finally felt ready to go out and give it everything. 

After 4 days on the water training I finally felt ready to go out and give it everything. 

 But first a rest day! And what better way than to go and explore the beautiful city of La Rochelle celebrating Nick Thompson's birthday.

But first a rest day! And what better way than to go and explore the beautiful city of La Rochelle celebrating Nick Thompson's birthday.

 La Rochelle City

La Rochelle City

 La Rochelle City

La Rochelle City

 Finally race day was here! We had some awesome conditions...

Finally race day was here! We had some awesome conditions...

 ... and I got some awesome starts!....

... and I got some awesome starts!....

 .... a trend which continued throughout the week.

.... a trend which continued throughout the week.

 Despite my good starts I didn't sail to my full potential as I struggled to really understand the conditions. I qualified for gold fleet and set myself the task of moving up through the fleet. Whist my starting wasn't quite as good I still had some great moments and finished in 48th overall and 34th European.

Despite my good starts I didn't sail to my full potential as I struggled to really understand the conditions. I qualified for gold fleet and set myself the task of moving up through the fleet. Whist my starting wasn't quite as good I still had some great moments and finished in 48th overall and 34th European.

So the Europeans finished and luckily this year it didn't require a trip to hospital! It was very nice to have had some great starts but disappointing to just miss my target of top 30 European. I know, however, that this will sort me out very well for the rest of the season and am looking forward to putting the hammer down. 

 Lovely sunset over the Isle of Wight viewed from the ferry on the way home.

Lovely sunset over the Isle of Wight viewed from the ferry on the way home.

It's great to finally be home after being away for almost 2 months and even better that the weather is now completely different - it's actually summer! As you can see from the video above I've been enjoying sailing the Waszp a bit as well as really putting a lot of effort in at the gym and on the bike exploring the beautiful Purbeck countryside. 

Next up for me is Medemblik Regatta, in Holland, on Sunday where I will be away for a week. Really looking forward to getting back at it!

Thanks for reading,

Sam

Hyeres World Cup

Hyeres World Cup

After flying home from Palma, going straight up to one of the Noble Marine Qualifiers in sunny Pwllheli (where I finished 2nd overall) and then coming home for a quick 12 hour pitstop it was time for me to head off back to Europe once again; this time for my first ever sailing world cup, held in Hyeres from the 24th-30th April. Read about my journey from leaving Palma below:

 A lovely sunrise greeted me in Palma as my plane was about to take off.

A lovely sunrise greeted me in Palma as my plane was about to take off.

 I flew home and got straight back into my car, driving up to Pwllheli in North Wales for one of the World and European Noble Marine qualifiers. We had a wide range of conditions from light stuff on Saturday to a bit more breeze on Sunday leading to some very tight and exciting racing. In the end I finished 2nd overall.

I flew home and got straight back into my car, driving up to Pwllheli in North Wales for one of the World and European Noble Marine qualifiers. We had a wide range of conditions from light stuff on Saturday to a bit more breeze on Sunday leading to some very tight and exciting racing. In the end I finished 2nd overall.

 Returning back to Swanage a day of perfect winds tempted my coach and I to head down Weymouth for some WASZP sailing. Unfortunately whilst he suffered minor 'technical' issues I still managed to find someone to race against, Sam Ross on his foil windsurfer! It was fair to say in those light conditions he definitely had the edge!

Returning back to Swanage a day of perfect winds tempted my coach and I to head down Weymouth for some WASZP sailing. Unfortunately whilst he suffered minor 'technical' issues I still managed to find someone to race against, Sam Ross on his foil windsurfer! It was fair to say in those light conditions he definitely had the edge!

 The very next day I was off on my way to the Hyeres world cup, flying from Southampton with a quick stopover at Geneva before my final destination of Nice and a short car journey to Hyeres.

The very next day I was off on my way to the Hyeres world cup, flying from Southampton with a quick stopover at Geneva before my final destination of Nice and a short car journey to Hyeres.

 It was very hot when I arrived in Hyeres and I quickly realised how well run and organised the World Cup program is. It really did seem like the perfect event!

It was very hot when I arrived in Hyeres and I quickly realised how well run and organised the World Cup program is. It really did seem like the perfect event!

 Meanwhile on the accommodation front we managed to bag ourselves an amazing villa in the hills for a ridiculously low price. It was amazing been ale to go for a morning swim everyday ready for sailing!

Meanwhile on the accommodation front we managed to bag ourselves an amazing villa in the hills for a ridiculously low price. It was amazing been ale to go for a morning swim everyday ready for sailing!

 The media coverage out at the World Cup was insane and it was amazing to see all the hard work going into the event. I got more photos taken than ever before!

The media coverage out at the World Cup was insane and it was amazing to see all the hard work going into the event. I got more photos taken than ever before!

 Racing started in some lovely 7-13 knot winds with sizeable sea state. 

Racing started in some lovely 7-13 knot winds with sizeable sea state. 

 After day one I was lying in 8th overall - not bad for my first ever world cup!

After day one I was lying in 8th overall - not bad for my first ever world cup!

 The week progressed with some very light and tricky winds.

The week progressed with some very light and tricky winds.

 I had some great moments...

I had some great moments...

 ... and some big learnings along the way.

... and some big learnings along the way.

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 At the end of the 5 day competition I finished in a respectable 42nd overall and 27th European sailor. Not bad for my first world cup but I knew I had potential to be many, many places higher. 

At the end of the 5 day competition I finished in a respectable 42nd overall and 27th European sailor. Not bad for my first world cup but I knew I had potential to be many, many places higher. 

 Checking out of our accommodation on the final morning before leaving to drive to La Rochelle for Laser Europeans preparation. 

Checking out of our accommodation on the final morning before leaving to drive to La Rochelle for Laser Europeans preparation. 

Overall I had a great time at the Hyeres World Cup and it really did massively help me in my preparation for the Laser Euros. Read about how that went in my next post!

Sam

Princess Sofia Regatta - Palma

Princess Sofia Regatta - Palma

Hi all,

Long time no post! Been incredibly busy over the past two months going from competition to competition in one big European tour. Now I'm finally back home in England for more than 12 hours I've got some time to write up about my progress over the last few months starting off with Princess Sofia Regatta, held in Palma de Mallorca. Read all about it below:

 Just before leaving to go to Palma the UK experienced some pretty weird and wacky weather conditions, with freezing snow and ice descending to the usually warm south coast. Unfortunately this meant no sailing (again) but at least we could still get outside and do some form of fitness pushing giant snowballs up hill!

Just before leaving to go to Palma the UK experienced some pretty weird and wacky weather conditions, with freezing snow and ice descending to the usually warm south coast. Unfortunately this meant no sailing (again) but at least we could still get outside and do some form of fitness pushing giant snowballs up hill!

 Swanage covered in snow.

Swanage covered in snow.

 On my final few days in the UK the weather cleared and normal life resumed. I had great fun one Saturday doing a Parkrun at Upton house with the family. 

On my final few days in the UK the weather cleared and normal life resumed. I had great fun one Saturday doing a Parkrun at Upton house with the family. 

 The sailing club with the snow clear.

The sailing club with the snow clear.

 All the bad weather meant I had a bit more spare time and I was able to create this custom carbon fibre compass mount for my Laser, thanks to  Neaves Rowing Services Limited    who helped me make this.

All the bad weather meant I had a bit more spare time and I was able to create this custom carbon fibre compass mount for my Laser, thanks to Neaves Rowing Services Limited who helped me make this.

 Finally I was off to Palma!

Finally I was off to Palma!

 Arriving there I was greeted with the classic Mallorca sun and some great wind. A couple of days training and I felt ready for racing.

Arriving there I was greeted with the classic Mallorca sun and some great wind. A couple of days training and I felt ready for racing.

 Unfortunately after a promising start I had one bad day which put me back into silver fleet, a real disappointment.

Unfortunately after a promising start I had one bad day which put me back into silver fleet, a real disappointment.

 At least we had some stunning backdrops to our racing!

At least we had some stunning backdrops to our racing!

 I sailed well on the windy day of racing.

I sailed well on the windy day of racing.

 Difficult racing in Palma. Whilst I didn't finish the regatta as well as I hoped I knew what I had to do to improve and the fire inside was definitely burning!

Difficult racing in Palma. Whilst I didn't finish the regatta as well as I hoped I knew what I had to do to improve and the fire inside was definitely burning!

 Reflecting on the week on the last night before the P3 training camp started the following day.

Reflecting on the week on the last night before the P3 training camp started the following day.

 No time to rest as we went straight into a group P3 training regatta. We had some fantastic conditions in a wide range of weather, here is an example of some of the nicer stuff!

No time to rest as we went straight into a group P3 training regatta. We had some fantastic conditions in a wide range of weather, here is an example of some of the nicer stuff!

 Classic Palma light winds & chop.

Classic Palma light winds & chop.

Our last day of training was MASSIVE. 20-25 knots of wind, sometimes more, with huge swell rolling into the bay. Check out this short clip below of one big wave I encountered on this day!

 Unfortunately when our planned ferry was cancelled our coach was forced to leave a day early with our boats meaning we had a day free to explore the island.

Unfortunately when our planned ferry was cancelled our coach was forced to leave a day early with our boats meaning we had a day free to explore the island.

 A small group of us decided to climb the highest open peak on Mallorca, a very scenic and wonderful 5 hour trek with some spectacular views.

A small group of us decided to climb the highest open peak on Mallorca, a very scenic and wonderful 5 hour trek with some spectacular views.

So overall a very informative trip full of many learnings and experiences. There were highs and lows but overall I had a great time and there is nothing more satisfying than progress. Onto the next one!

Sam

Great Rest Day

Great Rest Day

Got back from Mallorca yesterday morning and went down to Weymouth to help my coach set up his new boat - a Waszp! We had great conditions to learn all about the boat and some epic moments of foiling. Here are 30 seconds of highlights:

Full report on my training coming up soon!

Sam

January & February

January & February

Well today is the last day of February and my birthday! 

It certainly has been an interesting couple of months with 95% of the time being unsailable with over 40 knots battering the English coastline! Luckily as part of the British Sailing Team we went to Vilamoura in Portugal for 10 days and enjoyed lush weather and incredibly productive hours on the land and sea. Have a look through the photos below detailing my life over the past two months:

 Straight after Christmas I went on a family holiday to France. It was an amazing week with the family and was great to relax and unwind for one week of the year!

Straight after Christmas I went on a family holiday to France. It was an amazing week with the family and was great to relax and unwind for one week of the year!

 Loving the stunning scenery.

Loving the stunning scenery.

 Returning home it was straight back to the hard work. Unfortunately sailing was difficult as the English weather had other ideas. Out of the 24 January days I was in Weymouth I was only able to sail 6 occasions! Incredibly frustrating being forced to be sat onshore but at least it meant I was able to hit the gym hard.

Returning home it was straight back to the hard work. Unfortunately sailing was difficult as the English weather had other ideas. Out of the 24 January days I was in Weymouth I was only able to sail 6 occasions! Incredibly frustrating being forced to be sat onshore but at least it meant I was able to hit the gym hard.

 The bad sailing weather was also a great excuse to put some miles in on the bike and I have enjoyed doing some rides to and from home.

The bad sailing weather was also a great excuse to put some miles in on the bike and I have enjoyed doing some rides to and from home.

 With my boat being packed up and shipped off to Vilamoura in Portugal I brought the Waszp down to Weymouth to ensure I could still get some decent hours in on the water. Despite rarely sailing the Waszp in 2017 I found it to be a very useful addition for my Laser sailing, improving reaction times, hiking and upper body fitness and generally learning more about how a boat should feel to go as fast as possible. It's amazing how easy it is to gybe a Laser in 20+ knots once you've tried foiling gybes at 20 knots in the Waszp!

With my boat being packed up and shipped off to Vilamoura in Portugal I brought the Waszp down to Weymouth to ensure I could still get some decent hours in on the water. Despite rarely sailing the Waszp in 2017 I found it to be a very useful addition for my Laser sailing, improving reaction times, hiking and upper body fitness and generally learning more about how a boat should feel to go as fast as possible. It's amazing how easy it is to gybe a Laser in 20+ knots once you've tried foiling gybes at 20 knots in the Waszp!

 I was then lucky enough to get a tour round the Selden factory in Gosport by Steve Norbury. Being the new UK supplier of Laser carbon top masts I was incredibly impressed with their quality, efficiency and operations as a whole.

I was then lucky enough to get a tour round the Selden factory in Gosport by Steve Norbury. Being the new UK supplier of Laser carbon top masts I was incredibly impressed with their quality, efficiency and operations as a whole.

 At last the time came to fly out to Portugal for our first overseas training camp of the year. Overall we had stunning conditions (compared to the UK anyway!) and managed to put some serious hours in on the water. It was also great to do a lot of riding, covering almost 200 kilometres over 5 days.

At last the time came to fly out to Portugal for our first overseas training camp of the year. Overall we had stunning conditions (compared to the UK anyway!) and managed to put some serious hours in on the water. It was also great to do a lot of riding, covering almost 200 kilometres over 5 days.

 Glamour conditions on the tow.

Glamour conditions on the tow.

 Returning to the rather chilly UK I hosted my Sam Whaley Sailing Dinner on Saturday 24th February. With over 40 guests it was a great evening with delicious food followed by a presentation on my sailing. It was a huge success all round and I thoroughly enjoyed raising awareness about my sailing and where I want to go. Thank you to everyone who attended and made it an evening I wont forget!

Returning to the rather chilly UK I hosted my Sam Whaley Sailing Dinner on Saturday 24th February. With over 40 guests it was a great evening with delicious food followed by a presentation on my sailing. It was a huge success all round and I thoroughly enjoyed raising awareness about my sailing and where I want to go. Thank you to everyone who attended and made it an evening I wont forget!

 Dinner served at the Sam Whaley Sailjng Dinner!

Dinner served at the Sam Whaley Sailjng Dinner!

I am also pleased to announce that I am now working with Waterspeed App on development of its mobile applications for watersports. 

Waterspeed helps to improve you water sports, using Apple Watch GPS or iPhone to get Instant Speed, Direction angle, best speed average over 10 seconds, Max Speed and more.

I find it very useful for my training and enables me to replay sessions and debrief sessions with greater accuracy and understanding. 

Check out their website here.

Despite sailing in the UK being rather limited I am pleased to have made good progress and am really excited for it to finally warm up (and maybe get slightly less windier!). 

Next up for me is travelling to Palma next week to for another training camp before returning a few weeks later for the Princess Sofia competition, which really kicks off the sailing season for me!

In the meantime check out these epic photos which I have just got from the Youth Nationals last year. Really shows that hiking can be fun!

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Thanks for reading,

Sam

Record Growth in 2017

Record Growth in 2017

Sam Whaley Sailing is growing fast. 

Think you can help Sam in his dream to the Olympics? Contact him here to request a brochure, meeting or just a chat.

2017 has been an incredibly successful year both on and off of the water. Highlights include finishing top 5 at both the Laser Under-21 World and European Championships and moving up to 73rd in the senior world rankings. Off of the water Sam Whaley Sailing has seen considerable growth across the website, social media channels and more. See all of the statistics below:

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2017 + Palamos Christmas Race

2017 + Palamos Christmas Race

What a year it has been. I have had so amazing experiences, learnt so much and had many great times on the water. 2017 sure hasn't been easy but I am proud of my achievements and have loved every second of it.

Looking back to last week I was out in Spain for the Palamos Christmas Race, a fun and competitive international competition held near Barcelona every December. A great event to do it is very easy to get to and has a lovely atmosphere to it. In the end I managed to finish 5th overall, a nice step forward and encouraging looking into next year. Check out my week below:

 Often the hardest part of these sailing events is actually getting your boat to the competition! Despite some rather last minute complications I managed to fit my boat on another trailer with Ali Young and was able to make my pre-booked flights into Barcelona, flying over the snowy Pyrenees on my way.

Often the hardest part of these sailing events is actually getting your boat to the competition! Despite some rather last minute complications I managed to fit my boat on another trailer with Ali Young and was able to make my pre-booked flights into Barcelona, flying over the snowy Pyrenees on my way.

 After arriving at Palamos, unloading, getting ready and having a single day to practice I was thrown into competition in some stunning conditions - sunny, windy and wavy! Great fun.

After arriving at Palamos, unloading, getting ready and having a single day to practice I was thrown into competition in some stunning conditions - sunny, windy and wavy! Great fun.

 After a week of very mixed conditions I managed to sail well in the medal race to finish 2nd and therefore move up to 5th overall! Still my performance was far from perfect and it is encouraging that I was so close to the leaders despite some of these mistakes. Onwards and upwards.

After a week of very mixed conditions I managed to sail well in the medal race to finish 2nd and therefore move up to 5th overall! Still my performance was far from perfect and it is encouraging that I was so close to the leaders despite some of these mistakes. Onwards and upwards.

 Giving it beans on an upwind leg at Palamos Christmas Race.

Giving it beans on an upwind leg at Palamos Christmas Race.

 Beautiful (but incredibly cold!) sunsets greeted us everyday after racing in Palamos.

Beautiful (but incredibly cold!) sunsets greeted us everyday after racing in Palamos.

 It was very sad to leave Spain after such a wonderful week with friends doing what I love at the highest level.

It was very sad to leave Spain after such a wonderful week with friends doing what I love at the highest level.


2017

2017 has been the best year of my life, check out some of the highlights from my Instagram feed:

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I also have made a short 2017 highlights video, showcasing my sailing from January right through till December as I trained hard and competed at numerous national and international events. Check it out below:

Sam Whaley Sailing - 2017


2018

Looking onto next year I already have a very busy and productive calendar and look forward to exceeding my goals, fulfilling my dreams and hopefully bringing me one step closer to the Olympics. 

Hope you all had a very merry Christmas and have a happy New Year!

Sam

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Winter Training

Winter Training

It is crazy to think that my winter training is already well underway and Christmas is just around the corner, this year has gone ever so quickly and I remember January like it was yesterday! I am sure of one thing though; 2017 has been the best year of my life. I have been lucky enough to have travelled to many different countries, doing the thing I love surrounded by great friends and family. 

I've made big jumps in my performance on the water and am now a more robust, well-rounded sailor than at the start of the year. Having had a long and productive season it has been nice reflecting on the year and taking the many learnings from 2017 I feel confident that I am totally prepared to step into 2018 and give it everything at the highest level.

With my training currently being based out of Weymouth at the Olympic sailing academy it has been great to get a lot of hours in before it gets too cold. Unfortunately the last few weeks have got a lot colder but one can hope for warmer weather in January.

 Obviously enjoying the windy sunset downwind sessions in Weymouth!

Obviously enjoying the windy sunset downwind sessions in Weymouth!

 Training with the lads at a British Sailing Team P3 camp.

Training with the lads at a British Sailing Team P3 camp.

 Almost hitting the cliffs at Osmington after a monster downwind session - it's rather daunting when you turn back to go upwind and Portland is far in the distance!

Almost hitting the cliffs at Osmington after a monster downwind session - it's rather daunting when you turn back to go upwind and Portland is far in the distance!

After winning the Laser Inlands back at the start of November it was great to see the local paper put me on the back page with an article on my win and future in sailing - thanks guys!

A few weeks later I got the opportunity to feature in the British Sailing Team Christmas video which was great fun. With the theme being foiling I put on a ridiculous giant inflatable bauble suit and tried to jump into the Waszp and race against a foiling windsurfer and Nacra catamaran. Although rather silly it was great fun! Check out the video below:

 Great photo of me flying above the waves with the red bauble suit on.

Great photo of me flying above the waves with the red bauble suit on.

 When the suit was inflated it was ridiculous! Despite not being able to see my hands or the boat I managed to race against a foiling windsurfer, with the Waszp emerging victorious.

When the suit was inflated it was ridiculous! Despite not being able to see my hands or the boat I managed to race against a foiling windsurfer, with the Waszp emerging victorious.

Take a look at the video below for more shots taken on the day. I am really happy with how my learning in this new style of sailing is going and cant wait to attend some fun events next year.

Quickly returning to my singlehanded Laser sailing I enjoyed a very productive week at Weymouth before travelling to Hayling Island to coach RS Aeros for the weekend. It was great fun and I loved getting back into the boat, it really is a joy to sail. Plus it wasn't too cold on the RIB coaching either.

 Coaching RS Aeros at Hayling Island in December.

Coaching RS Aeros at Hayling Island in December.

I have a busy few weeks coming up before Christmas, setting up a new boat tomorrow before flying to Palamos in Spain for the annual Palamos Christmas Regatta on Saturday. Hopefully it'll be a bit warmer than it has been back home recently!

 Beautiful sunrise back home the other day.

Beautiful sunrise back home the other day.

Merry Christmas!

Sam

Endeavour Trophy 2017

Endeavour Trophy 2017

The Endeavour Trophy is a unique event in the UK dinghy sailing world. Held on the tidal waters of the rivers Crouch and Roach at the end of every year, it's an invitation only three day event, with the guest-list hand-picked from National Champions of selected recognised fleets. The RYA recognises The Endeavour as the pinnacle of that year's dinghy sailing achievements which will hail a 'Champion of Champions'.

With both my brother Ben and I being national champions of the Laser Radial and the RS Aero 7 respectively we had a choice of how we wanted to sail and who with. However due to a lack of boat and crew in the end we decided to pair up together, with Ben helming as we would represent the Lasers.

Heading into the event we suddenly realised how inexperienced at this new style of sailing we really were. Having only ever sailed together for 2 hours before and knowing the last time we did that I almost swam ashore after the first race we knew it was going to be tough to work together, remain friends and somehow achieve a good result. Suddenly we were faced with all these new aspects of sailing which had never cropped up in our singlehanded sailing before and I really felt like a fish out of the water! 

We knew that if we were to do well we would have to come up with a plan, work together and try to put our singlehanded minds to rest. We came up with lists beforehand of what we probably would be good at coming from Lasers (such as windy air upwind hiking for example) and what we most likely would not be good at (spinnaker work for example). We then tried to work out if we could fix any of the weaknesses in the few hours sailing before the competition before assigning roles to each other and making sure we knew who was doing what at all times.

We had one day of training beforehand in a rather big 18-25 knots which was interesting to say the least.  After launching our RS200, we reached across to the training area and on the first gybe absolutely sent it into a huge pitch pole and went head over heels - I didn't even realise it was possible to pitchpole a 200! Probably something to do with my 80kg in the front...

I didn't even realise it was possible to pitchpole a 200! 

So after 3 hours training under our belt together we headed into the first day of the Endeavour Trophy with lots of energy and enthusiasm, ready to take on any challenges.

The first day was a day of huge learning for us. We had some good windward mark rounding's; 8th in race 1, 3rd in race 2 and then led around the first windward marks of races 3, 4 and 5 after nailing the starts (perhaps too much after an OCS in race 5?!? Not sure if this is the helm or crews fault either...). We had great speed upwind and had a good understanding about our priorities but our big weakness were the downwinds with the spinnaker. Unfortunately it was perfectly summed up in the first race when I hoisted the spinnaker and said to Ben "So how do I make this thing go fast again?". Facepalm. Whilst we did lose a significant number of places on every downwind, we reset after every race, got over our brotherly squabbles and tried to approach every race like the start of a new day. So after posting results of 13th, 6th, 19th and a 10th we were sat in 13th position overall, not bad for double handed amateurs but we definitely were hungry for more.

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Sunday dawned to a slightly windier day which got us rather excited at the prospect of hiking. After sitting down and having many discussions on some of our downwind speed issues the previous night we had many new learnings to test out on the final 3 races of the championship. 

In race 1 we had mega tidal flow against us pushing us downwind and whilst the original strategy was to hit the left shoreline at 2 minutes to go we managed to notice a very weird tidal effect on the right hand shore line. After a quick discussion we changed strategy, smashed the start and tacked out right immediately. 

It soon became apparent we had made a great call, and quickly we were battling with the top 5 boats whilst the rest of the fleet were some way behind. A quick tidal shift call by me near the top of the beat resulted us in overtaking 3 boats in the space of 20 seconds and we rounded the first windward mark in 2nd. We hoisted the spinnaker and using the new knowledge I had soaked up we blasted off downwind, in the process managing to overtake the RS400 sailors in front of us. Yes that's right, we managed to overtake a boat on a downwind!

Whilst Ben and I were silently celebrating the success of overtaking a single boat downwind we dropped the spinni, rounded the leeward mark and set off upwind to the right shoreline with a big smile on our faces.

Crumbs. Looking back at the fleet I saw Ben Saxton and Toby Lewis (2015 & 2016 Endeavour Winners) only about 20 seconds behind us. How did they get there?! I thought they were deep at the windward mark?! Game on. Tacking up the right shoreline we managed to hold them off on the upwind and rounded the final windward mark still leading. One more downwind to go. Despite us trying every trick we could think of, Saxton & Lewis showed great speed and just beat us to the leeward mark, taking the race win from us. 

With a big change of course area for Race 2 we knew the strategy would be completely different and set up for the race start. Expecting not many tidal differences across the course our strategy was to go left expecting a big left hand shift. We executed a good pin end start and sailed over to the left before getting the big leftie. Despite the wind shift it quickly became apparent that there was some tidal differences as the top 4 boats all came from the right hand side and we ended up rounding the windward mark in 5th. We were a lot better on our downwinds this time and combined with some solid upwinds managed to cross the line in 6th before we were horrified to find out we had got our second OCS! Nightmare.

Reflecting on race 2 Ben and I came up with a good theory as to why the right hand side paid on the first upwind. Taking into account the big left shift which was holding (and meant to stay in) as well as other factors we came up with a controversial theory that it would be the opposite side that would pay in the last race. After weighing up our options we decided we had nothing to lose, got another good start at the pin end and when the entire fleet tacked to hit the right hand shore we held out all the way to the left. Yes it was risky with the leverage we had but we both were very confident in the strategy and it paid off, with us coming into the windward mark with a 50 metre lead!

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This time though Saxton & Lewis were right on our tail after some great downwind speed and had overtaken us by the leeward mark. With Saxton electing to head out right again on the beat, Ben and I chose the same strategy as previous and hit the shore on the left. With the wind still in a left phase from the beginning our move worked and we managed to overtake Saxton, coming into the final windward mark neck and neck with us rounding in front by centimetres.

Hoisting the spinnakers together, we both gybed simultaneously with Saxton pulling off the classic Emirates Team New Zealand VS Oracle Team USA America's Cup gybe and leaving us suffering in his dirty wake behind. Whilst it was game over for us leading the race, we were in 2nd by quite a distance and brought it home to cross the last race in 2nd.

Well what can I say, what a championship! Huge learning, great fun and awesome racing against the best of the best. We finished 13th overall but with a first windward mark position score line of 8th, 5th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st it was a shame the Endeavour Trophy isn't just a race to the windward mark! But we can't have everything in life, right? I had a great time and would love to do the Endeavour Trophy again and I really would recommend it to anyone who gets the chance, it is a real honour. Who knows, if I am ever back again I will certainly have some practice beforehand with a spinnaker! (and I would probably take the helm, sorry bro).

A big thanks to the UK Laser Association for their great help in supporting Ben and I in representing the Laser class this year and thank you to the Royal Corinthian YC for hosting such a marvellous event. Hopefully see you next year.

  • Highlight of the weekend: Leading races and pitchpoling an RS200.
  • Biggest squabble topic: About what angle to sail downwind with the spinnaker up, or me accidently letting the spinnaker flap.
  • Best perk: Delicious food, lovely accommodation and meeting loads of new people.
  • Most used phrase: HIKE!

Onwards and upwards.

Sam

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End of Season

End of Season

Well that was quite an exciting end to the season! Whilst my performance at times has been far from perfect it has definitely been an eventful couple of months and one that I will remember for a long time and take all the learning from. Follow my journey over the past few months below:

 Training off Durlston Head back. After spending the last few weeks of September back home in Swanage training, I headed off to Split, in Croatia for the Men's Senior Worlds.

Training off Durlston Head back. After spending the last few weeks of September back home in Swanage training, I headed off to Split, in Croatia for the Men's Senior Worlds.

 A wide range of weather greeted me in Croatia, from scorching sun you would expect to severe rain and thunderstorms with hail the size of golf balls! 

A wide range of weather greeted me in Croatia, from scorching sun you would expect to severe rain and thunderstorms with hail the size of golf balls! 

 After flying in, collecting my charter boat and setting her up I was ready to go for the start of the competition!

After flying in, collecting my charter boat and setting her up I was ready to go for the start of the competition!

 The racing was extremely tough and I struggled to get into my groove. Combined with some bad luck I ended up with a disappointing performance, but happy with some progress I had made.

The racing was extremely tough and I struggled to get into my groove. Combined with some bad luck I ended up with a disappointing performance, but happy with some progress I had made.

 Celebrations at the prize giving as Pavlos Contides (Cyprus) wins the Laser World Championships 2017.

Celebrations at the prize giving as Pavlos Contides (Cyprus) wins the Laser World Championships 2017.

So whilst my first senior world championships didn't go to plan I'm still very happy to have been able to compete against the best in the world. I know I can do so much better and am looking forward to next year where I will hopefully be able to show everyone what I'm capable of.

I quickly returned back to the UK and was straight off up to Sunderland for the first of the autumn UK national qualifier events. It was a great weekend with warm temperatures and great conditions on the water - I would even go as far as saying the best qualifier ever?! Anyway, after some really close battles I finished 3rd overall behind fellow team mates Micky Beckett and Jack Wetherell. Special shout out to my parents who drove my brother and I to and from the event, we wouldn't have been able to do it without you!

 Results from the Noble Marine Laser Qualifier 4 at Sunderland.

Results from the Noble Marine Laser Qualifier 4 at Sunderland.

After a few days of rest I was fired up to go to the Europeans, held in Barcelona, Spain. 

 Arriving nice and early in Barcelona I had to somehow navigate around the Spanish Metro system which was confusing to say the least!

Arriving nice and early in Barcelona I had to somehow navigate around the Spanish Metro system which was confusing to say the least!

 I soon arrived at the Barcelona International Sailing Centre raring to get going. After a couple of splendid days training in some mixed conditions I was ready for the competition to start.

I soon arrived at the Barcelona International Sailing Centre raring to get going. After a couple of splendid days training in some mixed conditions I was ready for the competition to start.

 Unfortunately the first day of the competition was cancelled after the political events going on in Catalonia surrounding the referendum! 

Unfortunately the first day of the competition was cancelled after the political events going on in Catalonia surrounding the referendum! 

 Over the next few days we had some really great racing with a wide range of conditions. Perfect! Unfortunately on the first day I developed an infection from a mosquito bite and after battling my way through 3 days of racing a trip to hospital was required. Very frustrating!

Over the next few days we had some really great racing with a wide range of conditions. Perfect! Unfortunately on the first day I developed an infection from a mosquito bite and after battling my way through 3 days of racing a trip to hospital was required. Very frustrating!

 With the infection becoming pretty serious, I was given doctors orders to not sail again in the championships and fly home and rest. Not the end of competition season I had hoped for!

With the infection becoming pretty serious, I was given doctors orders to not sail again in the championships and fly home and rest. Not the end of competition season I had hoped for!

Whilst it was quite upsetting to have not finished the Europeans in the way I would of liked it I knew my foot was in a bad way and enjoyed some nice rest back home before getting ready to try a new style of sailing with my younger brother Ben, double handed sailing in the Endeavour Trophy. Find there full report on that here:

 Leading around the windward mark on one race at the Endeavour Trophy.

Leading around the windward mark on one race at the Endeavour Trophy.

 Hugging the shoreline in less tide at the Endeavour Trophy.

Hugging the shoreline in less tide at the Endeavour Trophy.

So the Endeavour finished and allowed me to get back home and start my preparations for moving to Weymouth for winter training. Although the picture below isn't really preparing for the move the surf was too good to ignore!

 Bodyboarding in waves off Swanage Beach.

Bodyboarding in waves off Swanage Beach.

 First winter training session in Weymouth - the classic to Osmington Cliffs and back!

First winter training session in Weymouth - the classic to Osmington Cliffs and back!

 Marked my first night living in Weymouth with a trip up to the top of Portland to see the Olympic Rings next to the lovely sunset. Just ooking at this picture makes me hungry for success.

Marked my first night living in Weymouth with a trip up to the top of Portland to see the Olympic Rings next to the lovely sunset. Just ooking at this picture makes me hungry for success.

 After a couple of weeks training down in Weymouth I travelled to Grafham Water Sailing Club for the Laser Inland Championships. Held in very shifty and cold winds, I am very pleased to say I won the event for the first time. Here are a few shots of me from around the race course:

After a couple of weeks training down in Weymouth I travelled to Grafham Water Sailing Club for the Laser Inland Championships. Held in very shifty and cold winds, I am very pleased to say I won the event for the first time. Here are a few shots of me from around the race course:

 Cruising upwind on a big left shift - I was feeling pretty good at this point!

Cruising upwind on a big left shift - I was feeling pretty good at this point!

 Just after rounding the windward mark and sending it onto the reach.

Just after rounding the windward mark and sending it onto the reach.

 Sending it on the last reach on my way to win the race.

Sending it on the last reach on my way to win the race.

 Me with the Laser Standard Inland Champion trophy and my younger brother Ben who won the Laser Radial Inland Championship!

Me with the Laser Standard Inland Champion trophy and my younger brother Ben who won the Laser Radial Inland Championship!

 Returning back to Weymouth I have been hammering in some decent on the water and gym sessions. Hopefully it wont get much colder!

Returning back to Weymouth I have been hammering in some decent on the water and gym sessions. Hopefully it wont get much colder!

So what next? Well having moved to Weymouth now I am settling into my training routine, setting clear goals to ensure that I am making progress 24/7 and doing everything I can to ensure that my success is inevitable. 

I have a few upcoming weeks of training in Weymouth before heading out for the Palamos Christmas Race, always a great event that I am really looking forward to.

Thanks,

Sam

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RS Aero Tips and Tricks

RS Aero Tips and Tricks

Firstly can I just say it was an absolute pleasure to sail at the 2017 UK RS Aero Nationals earlier this month at Hayling Island Sailing Club and one of the best weeks sailing of my life. Not only did we have great weather with plenty of sun and wind but the class was incredibly friendly, welcoming and fun. I met lots of new people and really look forward to sailing at more Aero events in the future.

I learnt so much from the Aero nationals and I thought it would be nice to write up my top tips and give something back to the class. I hope you find them interesting and maybe even learn a thing or two!

 Having a great time on the water is always an essential!

Having a great time on the water is always an essential!

The nationals were quite a challenging event held in a wide range of wind conditions, from a light 5-7 knots on day 1,  light-medium 6-13 knots on day 2 and finishing off with a strong 14-22 knots on the last day! Here are my key learnings, top tips and things to look out for that I discovered during the event and used on my way to winning the national title in the 7 rig:

Mainsheet

On Day 1 and 2 of the championship we experienced light to medium winds ranging from 5 - 12 knots and I thought that in these wind speeds your mainsheet trim was critical if you wanted to sail fast and point high on the upwind legs.

On the Aero the mainsheet changes the sail shape dramatically and can reduce/induce depth very easily and on Day 1 and 2 I thought if you played the mainsheet on the upwind legs you could be very fast and point high at the same time as long as you had the rig setup correctly (see next section).

My technique I was employing was in the light spots was to ease about a foot of main and then in the gusts I would squeeze the mainsheet back in a foot or so depending on the strength of the gust. With the mainsheet squeezed in you could sail higher (watch your tell tales carefully here!) and as soon as you hit a lull you would ease the main slightly and bear away a little which at least kept your speed through the water. In the two pictures below, by looking at the angle of the boom, you can clearly see the two differences between sailing in a lull and in a gust.

 Looking at the angle of the boom, we can clearly see I have eased the main slightly and must be in a lull. Note the slack kicker, deep outhaul and no downhaul on at all.

Looking at the angle of the boom, we can clearly see I have eased the main slightly and must be in a lull. Note the slack kicker, deep outhaul and no downhaul on at all.

 Here we can clearly see I am sheeted in more than the previous photo so must be in a gust, pointing higher whilst sailing fast. Notice the creases in my sail - more on that in the below Downhaul section.

Here we can clearly see I am sheeted in more than the previous photo so must be in a gust, pointing higher whilst sailing fast. Notice the creases in my sail - more on that in the below Downhaul section.

So by sheeting the main in and out and changing my upwind sailing angle very slightly I found I had a fast sailing mode in the lulls and the gusts, a powerful combination on the race course.

(I was using 13 metres of Marlow Excel Fusion 6mm as my mainsheet, rather thin for some but excellent for maximum feel downwind and easy flowing through all blocks.)

 

Rig Setup

At 45 seconds to go before any race start I always set up my sail to ensure that at go I was at my perfect setting and going my fastest. Here were some settings that worked well for me during the event:

5-10 Knots

In the light 5-10 knots going upwind I had a medium tension kicker setting (usually pulling around 40cm through the deck cleat), no tension at all on downhaul (more on that in the section below) and a surprisingly loose outhaul (usually a hand length and a half. Some might say this was too deep but being one of the bigger guys in the fleet I found it allowed me to point higher and it just felt 'good').

Downwind I kept the downhaul off completely, left the outhaul the same one and a half hand length deep but released the kicker off all the way (I quite liked a loose leech which felt great sailing by the lee).

10-15 Knots

Fully hiking weather + a bit more = depowering time. In the 15 knot gusts you wanted to be depowered but in the 10 knot lulls you killed your height and speed if you depowered too much. Combined with the difficult Hayling chop and that threw up some challenges.

I found that a tight kicker (approx. 60cm through deck cleat), a outhaul approximately a hand length deep and a light-medium downhaul setting worked well. On the upwinds I was keeping the mainsheet pinned in but actively playing the downhaul, releasing in the lulls and tightening in the gusts.

Downwind I released the downhaul completely, let the outhaul off to be one and a half hand lengths deep and released the kicker about 45cm so that it wasn't too loose whilst surfing waves.

15-25 Knots

I found that at these winds upwind I was fully depowering so I had max kicker on, a hand length deep outhaul when I wanted to point high, flattening off to half of that when I wanted to go low and fast, and a lot of downhaul on. The more overpowered you are the harder you pull the downhaul and kicker on! Other than that hike hard, move back in the hiking strap slightly and keep the boat flat and it feels like you can get the boat planing upwind. Very fun.

Downwind I released the downhaul and kicker a lot and if it wasn't too hairy the outhaul would come off too!

 Hiking hard! Mind you I've never been good at pulling a good face whilst sailing...

Hiking hard! Mind you I've never been good at pulling a good face whilst sailing...

 

Downhaul

Now it could of been my sail specifically but in the lighter winds I was finding my sail got quite a few diagonal creases when sheeted on in an upwind setting. This might be due to the elastic bolt rope, but I'm not sure. Whilst it was very tempting to pull the downhaul on to remove them, if you watch the leech I found it was changing the whole sail shape and opening the leech, something you don't want and was making me not point as high. Obviously I didn't want this so I left my downhaul off and ignored the creases, which seemed to work well.

 Note all the diagonal creases in the sail.

Note all the diagonal creases in the sail.

 

Strategy

My top strategic tip from the nationals was definitely SAIL IN MORE WIND. If you're simply in more wind than someone else it will be very difficult to go slower than them. Sounds simple right? Unfortunately it is not that easy.

The first thing I would recommend is trying to learn how to sail your Aero by feel and so if you look away for 5-10 seconds you can maintain a perfect course. As the picture below shows, the majority of the time whether going upwind, downwind or reaching I was constantly looking upwind to see where more wind is and where it will be in 30 seconds etc. The more time you can spend spotting gusts, the more gusts you will find and therefore probably the faster you will go. Free, effortless speed.

 Here you can see me really looking upwind trying to find where the most wind is, where it will be and how I can best make use of it as I approach the windward mark.

Here you can see me really looking upwind trying to find where the most wind is, where it will be and how I can best make use of it as I approach the windward mark.

 

Hardware

So what physically was different between every Aero and would of made life easier/faster? Well I made a few changes to my charter boat but it was by no means perfect.

The first change I made was to fit a thinner, 6mm mainsheet. I prefer the feel and how smoothly it runs. It was a dream to use in the lighter winds.

I then fitted a masthead wind indicator which was very useful for sailing downwind as well as a wind indicator at the bottom of the mast just for reference.

I tied a slip knot in the main halyard, tied some elastic to that and led it down the boat to the downhaul block. This was used to pull the downhaul off when I released it, especially useful if you don't have over-deck controls.

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I also tied elastic to the outhaul block and round the boom gooseneck to pull the outhaul off when released.

I tightened the top batten tension on day 2 by approximately 6 turns, leading to a more hooked sail. Felt good.

I flipped my boat over and gave my boat a thorough wash and clean. You'd be amazed how much grime, sand and dirt sticks to the hull even when wet so I would recommend doing this as often as possible!

Quite a few boats had over-deck control lines. These looked very cool, seemed to work a lot better and I was very jealous that my charter boat didn't have them! I have fitted a Rooster over-deck controls kit recently to another Aero at my home club and found it to be very high quality and simple to do with a nice video to guide you along the way.

Other than that my boat was a standard RS Aero charter boat, kindly supplied by RS (thanks guys!).

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Simply put, if you get a good start and sail fast in the strategically right direction you will win the race! Its the small things which put together make a big difference.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article as much as I have writing it! If you're feeling generous it would mean a lot if you might donate towards my Olympic sailing campaign here.

Any questions feel free to send me a message on the Contact page here.

I am also available for Aero coaching, please visit the Coaching page for more details.

Thanks!

Sam

2 National Titles Later

2 National Titles Later

Wow, what a month. After a very eventful July at the Worlds and Europeans it was nice to be back home in Swanage with lots of time to enjoy the British summer and get back into training.

Check out my story of the past month in the pictures below:

 I resumed my training back down in Weymouth almost immediately with the Podium and Podium Potential squads. It was really great training against the double world champion and all the guys. Lots of learning took place!

I resumed my training back down in Weymouth almost immediately with the Podium and Podium Potential squads. It was really great training against the double world champion and all the guys. Lots of learning took place!

 Summer is great back home in Swanage with lots of activities going on. After years of clashes and being away I finally was able to be around during carnival week and had a great time. Here is a picture from one afternoon watching the Red Arrows perform, shame I couldn't be sailing at the same time!

Summer is great back home in Swanage with lots of activities going on. After years of clashes and being away I finally was able to be around during carnival week and had a great time. Here is a picture from one afternoon watching the Red Arrows perform, shame I couldn't be sailing at the same time!

 I then was around for RNLI week and entered into the build-a-boat challenge. 4 hours, 1 sheet of plywood, 30 screws, 30 nails and a whole lot of duct tape later and I had a boat to race across the bay! Unfortunately I finished second but I hope to be back next year with a better design for more.

I then was around for RNLI week and entered into the build-a-boat challenge. 4 hours, 1 sheet of plywood, 30 screws, 30 nails and a whole lot of duct tape later and I had a boat to race across the bay! Unfortunately I finished second but I hope to be back next year with a better design for more.

 R.I.P Swifto. After being evicted from the family house Swifto unfortunately met the end at the local tip.

R.I.P Swifto. After being evicted from the family house Swifto unfortunately met the end at the local tip.

 Anyway back to proper sailing! As well as my training in my Laser I organised a group of friends to sail the Waszp down in Weymouth. I was happy to find the Waszp fits perfectly on my corsa roof.

Anyway back to proper sailing! As well as my training in my Laser I organised a group of friends to sail the Waszp down in Weymouth. I was happy to find the Waszp fits perfectly on my corsa roof.

 On the water rabbit run with Stu on the other Waszp in Weymouth. I did get rolled from here!

On the water rabbit run with Stu on the other Waszp in Weymouth. I did get rolled from here!

 It was awesome to finally line up against another Waszp, race around Portland and then let the lads have a go at their first foiling experience.

It was awesome to finally line up against another Waszp, race around Portland and then let the lads have a go at their first foiling experience.

Check out the video from the Waszp session above! Pretty happy to pull off a relatively slick foiling gybe on camera.

 After my hard days training in Weymouth it was nice to go home, take a walk and reflect on the day gone by. When met with sunsets like this it really makes me appreciate where I live.

After my hard days training in Weymouth it was nice to go home, take a walk and reflect on the day gone by. When met with sunsets like this it really makes me appreciate where I live.

 On Saturday 19th August I volunteered to help out at the Upton House Parkrun. It was awesome to be involved in this wonderful community activity and I was impressed with the enthusiasm and friendliness I encountered. I really would recommend everyone to go to one of these and see what its like, whether you want to get into running or just want to experience the lovely Upton Country Park. It's fun, free and I definitely will be back to run myself soon!

On Saturday 19th August I volunteered to help out at the Upton House Parkrun. It was awesome to be involved in this wonderful community activity and I was impressed with the enthusiasm and friendliness I encountered. I really would recommend everyone to go to one of these and see what its like, whether you want to get into running or just want to experience the lovely Upton Country Park. It's fun, free and I definitely will be back to run myself soon!

 I've also recently got into 18 hole putting at the local Beach Gardens in the evenings after sailing and have enjoyed many a round with my brother Ben. We're not great (yet) but we are getting better! The Masters 2030?

I've also recently got into 18 hole putting at the local Beach Gardens in the evenings after sailing and have enjoyed many a round with my brother Ben. We're not great (yet) but we are getting better! The Masters 2030?

 After sailing the RS Aero only a handful of times I headed up to Reading on my holidays to compete in the Aero Youth Nationals. The 9 rig was very interesting to sail but at my 80kg I struggled keep the boat driving and felt quite over-powered in only 12 knots, leaving me thinking that a 7 might be better suited to me. Still it was a very, very fun event and although we didn't have any wind on the Sunday I had some epic battles over 6 races on Saturday with the likes of Ed Higson, Ben Rolfe and the rest of the fleet.  There was a slight bit of confusion over the final results but I am pleased to say I am RS Aero 9 Youth National Champion!

After sailing the RS Aero only a handful of times I headed up to Reading on my holidays to compete in the Aero Youth Nationals. The 9 rig was very interesting to sail but at my 80kg I struggled keep the boat driving and felt quite over-powered in only 12 knots, leaving me thinking that a 7 might be better suited to me. Still it was a very, very fun event and although we didn't have any wind on the Sunday I had some epic battles over 6 races on Saturday with the likes of Ed Higson, Ben Rolfe and the rest of the fleet.

There was a slight bit of confusion over the final results but I am pleased to say I am RS Aero 9 Youth National Champion!

 A couple of weeks later I headed to Hayling Island Sailing Club for the actual RS Aero National Championships where there was a huge 114 entries across the three rigs, with 73 in the 7 rig. Having been quite over-powered in the 9 at the Youth Nats I decided to enter in a 7 rig instead and after coaching the fleet the day before racing I watched with interest what the top guys were doing in the Challenge Cup, the practice race with a reward at the end of it! I was itching to sail but it was very fun and rewarding sharing tips with the rest of the fleet, I hope it made their racing better.

A couple of weeks later I headed to Hayling Island Sailing Club for the actual RS Aero National Championships where there was a huge 114 entries across the three rigs, with 73 in the 7 rig. Having been quite over-powered in the 9 at the Youth Nats I decided to enter in a 7 rig instead and after coaching the fleet the day before racing I watched with interest what the top guys were doing in the Challenge Cup, the practice race with a reward at the end of it! I was itching to sail but it was very fun and rewarding sharing tips with the rest of the fleet, I hope it made their racing better.

 After 3 days of intense and close racing, especially with my brother Ben, I was very pleased and honoured to win the RS Aero 7 Nationals! We had a wide range of conditions, very light winds on day 1, light to medium winds on day 2 and finally some windy weather sailing on day 3.

After 3 days of intense and close racing, especially with my brother Ben, I was very pleased and honoured to win the RS Aero 7 Nationals! We had a wide range of conditions, very light winds on day 1, light to medium winds on day 2 and finally some windy weather sailing on day 3.

 Whatever the weather conditions I was loving sailing the Aero. It was so light, responsive and fun to sail. Always had a smile on my face!

Whatever the weather conditions I was loving sailing the Aero. It was so light, responsive and fun to sail. Always had a smile on my face!

 Congratulations to my little bro Ben for coming second, Kristo for 3rd and having some insane downwind speed, Steve C for coming 4th with his super quick windy weather speed and Steve Norbury who was very consistent at being up there with an impressive last race.

Congratulations to my little bro Ben for coming second, Kristo for 3rd and having some insane downwind speed, Steve C for coming 4th with his super quick windy weather speed and Steve Norbury who was very consistent at being up there with an impressive last race.

 Awesome to have won this great trophy!

Awesome to have won this great trophy!

So what next for me? Well tomorrow I fly out to the senior Laser World Championships, to be held next week in Split, Crotia. Really looking forward to sailing against some of the best sailors in the world and giving it my all.

For regular updates about next week follow my Twitter @samwhaleygbr and Instagram @samwhaley97

I'll let you know how I get on!

Thanks,

Sam

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4th & 5th at U21 Europeans and Worlds

4th & 5th at U21 Europeans and Worlds

Hi guys,

Yesterday I returned from a 3 week trip around Europe competing at the Under-21 European and World Championships. It certainly was a very memorable trip! Here is the story:

 The first part of the trip was the massive drive all the way to Douarnenez, in France, for the Under-21 Europeans. Luckily I went with the rest of the lads in the team van so I only had to drive for a couple of hours. Cheers to Coach Dre and Millsa for driving the rest of the way!

The first part of the trip was the massive drive all the way to Douarnenez, in France, for the Under-21 Europeans. Luckily I went with the rest of the lads in the team van so I only had to drive for a couple of hours. Cheers to Coach Dre and Millsa for driving the rest of the way!

 Arriving in Douarnenez late that evening I checked into my hotel - check out this lovely view across the bay from the breakfast room. Perfect for checking out conditions before racing every morning.

Arriving in Douarnenez late that evening I checked into my hotel - check out this lovely view across the bay from the breakfast room. Perfect for checking out conditions before racing every morning.

 The view from our room over the surrounding town was very pretty.

The view from our room over the surrounding town was very pretty.

 Stunning weather greeted us on our arrival in Douarnenez - for the first few days of training anyway!

Stunning weather greeted us on our arrival in Douarnenez - for the first few days of training anyway!

 After a couple of days pre-event training we had a rest day where as a team we went and explored the coastline....

After a couple of days pre-event training we had a rest day where as a team we went and explored the coastline....

 ...And ended up surfing on a lovely beach just down the coast. Despite it being my first ever time surfing I learnt quickly and had a whale of a time surfing some awesome waves!

...And ended up surfing on a lovely beach just down the coast. Despite it being my first ever time surfing I learnt quickly and had a whale of a time surfing some awesome waves!

 We then had a team photo - Alex, Jack, Dan, Dre and I.

We then had a team photo - Alex, Jack, Dan, Dre and I.

 The next day racing started with variable conditions and close racing. I was pleased to finish day 1 with a score line of 3 and 1 to be 2nd overall.

The next day racing started with variable conditions and close racing. I was pleased to finish day 1 with a score line of 3 and 1 to be 2nd overall.

 After a few more days of racing I went into the final day in 4th overall with a big possibility of a medal.

After a few more days of racing I went into the final day in 4th overall with a big possibility of a medal.

 Heartbreakingly some silly errors cost me the chance of a medal and I ended up 4th overall at the U21 Euros.

Heartbreakingly some silly errors cost me the chance of a medal and I ended up 4th overall at the U21 Euros.

 The next morning we drove all the way to Nieuwpoort, in Belgium, ready for the start of the Under-21 Worlds a few days later.

The next morning we drove all the way to Nieuwpoort, in Belgium, ready for the start of the Under-21 Worlds a few days later.

 After a solid day of driving we arrived in Nieuwpoort to some epic conditions. Sun, wind and waves! We had one day of pre-event training before headin into the competition...

After a solid day of driving we arrived in Nieuwpoort to some epic conditions. Sun, wind and waves! We had one day of pre-event training before headin into the competition...

 Day 1 of racing was a mixed bag. Scoring two 3rds in the first two races I was set up well for the last race when a 40 degree shift meant our upwind became rather skewed to one side - I did 0 tacks and somehow got overtaken by 10 boats :(

Day 1 of racing was a mixed bag. Scoring two 3rds in the first two races I was set up well for the last race when a 40 degree shift meant our upwind became rather skewed to one side - I did 0 tacks and somehow got overtaken by 10 boats :(

 Determined to improve from the previous days nightmare last race I was focused and ready heading onto the water.

Determined to improve from the previous days nightmare last race I was focused and ready heading onto the water.

 Big conditions on the water. I had some good speed but struggled with consistency and had some incidents on the water which set me back.

Big conditions on the water. I had some good speed but struggled with consistency and had some incidents on the water which set me back.

 On my way to winning my second ever race at a World Championships!

On my way to winning my second ever race at a World Championships!

 We had light winds on the penultimate day and despite attempting a start racing was soon abandoned for the day.

We had light winds on the penultimate day and despite attempting a start racing was soon abandoned for the day.

 With a black flag and multiple big scores, I headed into the final day in 12th overall with a strong belief that anything was possible. Scoring a 3rd in the first gold fleet race I moved up to 8th overall. In the final race I had a disastrous first beat and rounded in the 50s but sailed fast and smart to move through the fleet considerably to finish 17th. This comeback pulled me up in the overall results and meant I finsihed 5th overall!

With a black flag and multiple big scores, I headed into the final day in 12th overall with a strong belief that anything was possible. Scoring a 3rd in the first gold fleet race I moved up to 8th overall. In the final race I had a disastrous first beat and rounded in the 50s but sailed fast and smart to move through the fleet considerably to finish 17th. This comeback pulled me up in the overall results and meant I finsihed 5th overall!

 Whilst I am very happy to have finished 5th at the Under-21 Worlds what is very exciting is that I know I am capable of so much more. This result has made me more determined than ever to succeed and I know I can achieve greater things. Onwards and upwards!

Whilst I am very happy to have finished 5th at the Under-21 Worlds what is very exciting is that I know I am capable of so much more. This result has made me more determined than ever to succeed and I know I can achieve greater things. Onwards and upwards!

Overall the trip was very successful; I achieved my best ever Under-21 international results, won 5 international races and learnt so many things about my sailing which I have never come across before.

Looking forward I now have a month back home training in Weymouth and attending many smaller, more relaxed events before gearing up to the Laser Senior World Championships in September, to be held in Split, Croatia.

Hope you enjoyed the read!

Sam

Fun Times in June

Fun Times in June

Hi guys,

Welcome to the June blog, hope you are all well. It has been a very exciting month for me and everyday is more and more thrilling as we get closer and closer to the Under-21 World and European championships at the end of July. Here is my timeline of what I have been up to in the past month!

 I started June off by coaching some young Topper sailors in Poole Harbour. Having never really been involved in the coaching scene before (I've always been too busy focused on my own development!) it was really nice to get out on the water in a rib and coach our next generation of sailors. It was very windy and they did a great job of coping!

I started June off by coaching some young Topper sailors in Poole Harbour. Having never really been involved in the coaching scene before (I've always been too busy focused on my own development!) it was really nice to get out on the water in a rib and coach our next generation of sailors. It was very windy and they did a great job of coping!

 I then went on holiday to Perranporth in Cornwall for a relaxing few days on the beach mixed with a bit of surfing. Being the last time available for holiday before the Under-21 competitions, it was great to recover and refresh from my training and have fun in a beautiful coastal location. Check out how good this beach looks!

I then went on holiday to Perranporth in Cornwall for a relaxing few days on the beach mixed with a bit of surfing. Being the last time available for holiday before the Under-21 competitions, it was great to recover and refresh from my training and have fun in a beautiful coastal location. Check out how good this beach looks!

 A lovely sunset whilst on holiday in Cornwall.

A lovely sunset whilst on holiday in Cornwall.

 I then returned home for a couple more days of training in the Laser and the gym as well as mixing it up with some kayaking and Waszp sailing in the incredibly hot weather we had!

I then returned home for a couple more days of training in the Laser and the gym as well as mixing it up with some kayaking and Waszp sailing in the incredibly hot weather we had!

 Next for me was Kiel Week, held in Germany. After loading our boats onto a big British Sailing Team trailer we headed off in the van towing our boats all the way to Germany. Unfortunately this journey happened to be at the same time as the thrilling Americas Cup matches on TV so not wanting to miss it we set up a livestream in the front using our coaches phone and connected it up to the van speakers. Win!

Next for me was Kiel Week, held in Germany. After loading our boats onto a big British Sailing Team trailer we headed off in the van towing our boats all the way to Germany. Unfortunately this journey happened to be at the same time as the thrilling Americas Cup matches on TV so not wanting to miss it we set up a livestream in the front using our coaches phone and connected it up to the van speakers. Win!

 After a day of travelling we arrived in Germany and unloaded boats and set up our base camp with our tents. To save costs I decided to camp as it was quite easy and having a nice small, comfy tent it wouldn't be too bad as long as it didn't rain! Unfortunately the weather gods weren't looking too fondly on me that week and there was a lot of rain...

After a day of travelling we arrived in Germany and unloaded boats and set up our base camp with our tents. To save costs I decided to camp as it was quite easy and having a nice small, comfy tent it wouldn't be too bad as long as it didn't rain! Unfortunately the weather gods weren't looking too fondly on me that week and there was a lot of rain...

 We had to think outside of the box for some things whilst camping. Here we set up a washing line to dry our sailing kit using an old mast and a mainsheet strung between a lamp post and car trailer. It worked surprisingly well!

We had to think outside of the box for some things whilst camping. Here we set up a washing line to dry our sailing kit using an old mast and a mainsheet strung between a lamp post and car trailer. It worked surprisingly well!

 Kiel Week is a huge festival not only about sailing and as a result there was a huge carnival style setup with many stands to visit. In the sailors lounge one company was giving away free cookies if we took a picture on the sofa so not wanting to turn away delicious food naturally my teammate Jack and I quickly agreed!

Kiel Week is a huge festival not only about sailing and as a result there was a huge carnival style setup with many stands to visit. In the sailors lounge one company was giving away free cookies if we took a picture on the sofa so not wanting to turn away delicious food naturally my teammate Jack and I quickly agreed!

  Can anyone spot me? I am sail number 209493 and wear a blue bib....   The racing over the week was very close and exciting with a variety of different conditions. I really found my groove in the windier stuff towards the end of the week and was thrilled to record my first international senior race win in race 6 of the regatta!  I then had a solid last day in gold fleet to move up the leader board even more to finish in 12th place overall out of 135 boats in total! Also being 2nd Under-21 I am thrilled with the result although know I can do a lot better which is very promising looking ahead.  After the final day of racing we watched the medal race with the top 10 before packing up and driving back home ot the UK.

Can anyone spot me? I am sail number 209493 and wear a blue bib....

The racing over the week was very close and exciting with a variety of different conditions. I really found my groove in the windier stuff towards the end of the week and was thrilled to record my first international senior race win in race 6 of the regatta!

I then had a solid last day in gold fleet to move up the leader board even more to finish in 12th place overall out of 135 boats in total! Also being 2nd Under-21 I am thrilled with the result although know I can do a lot better which is very promising looking ahead.

After the final day of racing we watched the medal race with the top 10 before packing up and driving back home ot the UK.

 Returning back home I was very excited to find my new kit for the Under 21 competitions had arrived. Many thanks to  SANDILINE  for supplying the kit which will enable me to perform at my very best (Loving the new design as well!).

Returning back home I was very excited to find my new kit for the Under 21 competitions had arrived. Many thanks to SANDILINE for supplying the kit which will enable me to perform at my very best (Loving the new design as well!).

I now have a few days back home to upgrade some parts on my boat before heading out to Holland for a final training camp with the Dutch Laser Squad before the Under-21 Europeans which start on July 14th. Exciting times ahead and I am feeling as confident as I have ever been. Lets do this!

Thanks for reading,

Sam

Delta Lloyd Regatta & More

Delta Lloyd Regatta & More

Hi guys,

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. Time flies by when you're having fun!

It really has been a very busy period (as usual!) with lots going on since the RYA Youth Nationals. There has been a lot of training in Weymouth, a competition in Holland and fun times in the Waszp back home in Swanage. Scroll through the following pictures to find out what I have been up to:

 Training in sunny Weymouth at the start of May was great fun and we had a interesting mix of conditions.

Training in sunny Weymouth at the start of May was great fun and we had a interesting mix of conditions.

 I then travelled to Holland for the Delta Lloyd Regatta with the rest of the British Sailing Team Laser squad. This is the view from our lovely bungalow, just a few miles away from the sailing club. This picture also sums up the weeks weather pretty well!

I then travelled to Holland for the Delta Lloyd Regatta with the rest of the British Sailing Team Laser squad. This is the view from our lovely bungalow, just a few miles away from the sailing club. This picture also sums up the weeks weather pretty well!

 We had a great mix of conditions out on the water.

We had a great mix of conditions out on the water.

 And encountered lots of close racing at Delta Lloyd Regatta 2017.

And encountered lots of close racing at Delta Lloyd Regatta 2017.

 After a close week of racing I finished 33rd overall and 3rd Under-21. A great warm up regatta to kick-start preparations for the U21 Worlds later in July. At the end of the week I was lucky enough to be able to go on the water and watch the Laser medal race action from the rib with fellow Brit and teammate Elliot Hanson taking the overall win.

After a close week of racing I finished 33rd overall and 3rd Under-21. A great warm up regatta to kick-start preparations for the U21 Worlds later in July. At the end of the week I was lucky enough to be able to go on the water and watch the Laser medal race action from the rib with fellow Brit and teammate Elliot Hanson taking the overall win.

 Sailing causes some pretty bad tan lines as I found out during the week.

Sailing causes some pretty bad tan lines as I found out during the week.

 Returning back home to Swanage thick fog greeted me - no sailing :(

Returning back home to Swanage thick fog greeted me - no sailing :(

 The bad weather gave me a great excuse to do a spot of exploration. I love being able to explore our beautiful coastline and capture moments that I know I will always look back on fondly.

The bad weather gave me a great excuse to do a spot of exploration. I love being able to explore our beautiful coastline and capture moments that I know I will always look back on fondly.

 Running up a huge hill was physically pretty demanding but a great challenge and worth it for this next shot...

Running up a huge hill was physically pretty demanding but a great challenge and worth it for this next shot...

 Can you spot me?

Can you spot me?

The weather then cleared and allowed me to get back out sailing again! With no Laser around due to it being in Weymouth I sailed the next best thing - the Waszp. I finally managed to nail the foiling gybe and although I unfortunately didn't get it on camera I did get this awesome drone footage - check it out!

It's been an interesting month and one where I have learnt so much. I know I say it all the time but with every life experience I feel like I learn and adapt and ultimately end up a stronger person. I firmly believe that if I keep sticking at this, learning, developing and performing, then I can become a better person all round on and off of the water.

Thanks for reading and I'll keep you updated soon!

Sam

 

Bronze Medal at U21 Nationals

Bronze Medal at U21 Nationals

I'm very pleased to announce that last week I won a bronze medal at the RYA Youth Nationals 2017, held in Hayling Island near Southampton. 

 On the podium with my teammates Dan Whiteley and Jack Cookson. Photo credits: RYA/Paul Wyeth.

On the podium with my teammates Dan Whiteley and Jack Cookson. Photo credits: RYA/Paul Wyeth.

It was a very tough week with a lot of close racing and although they weren't my favourite conditions I took a lot of things from the week and had a lot of fun at the same time!

 My favourite conditions were on the Wednesday when we had a lovely 10-17 knots with awesome waves.

My favourite conditions were on the Wednesday when we had a lovely 10-17 knots with awesome waves.

A big well done to my brother who won gold convincingly in the Under-19 Laser Radial category, winning by over 28 points!

 My younger brother Ben on his way to winning gold in the Laser Radial fleet. 

My younger brother Ben on his way to winning gold in the Laser Radial fleet. 

 A bad picture of us both! Me with my bronze medal and Ben with his gold medal.

A bad picture of us both! Me with my bronze medal and Ben with his gold medal.

At the beginning of the month I also competed at the Princess Sofia Regatta, held on the island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean. After a slow start to my first senior event of the year, I was pleased to sail progressively better everyday after that and finished on a high in Gold fleet, knocking in a 10th and a 11th to finish 40th overall. For my first Princess Sofia regatta ever I am happy with the result and made some good steps forwards in my sailing.

 About to round the windward mark in 2nd place.

About to round the windward mark in 2nd place.

 Brit 1,2,3 at the front! Me, Elliot Hanson and Micky Beckett.

Brit 1,2,3 at the front! Me, Elliot Hanson and Micky Beckett.

I've now got a small break to rest and recover after the very busy last period before getting back into training and attending Delta Lloyd regatta at the end of May. I also have just received my brand new carbon top section so am very excited to go out on the water and test her out!

Thanks,

Sam

Introducing MindOdyssey

Introducing MindOdyssey

I'm proud to announce that MindOdyssey are now supporting me on my Olympic sailing campaign.

Performance psychology aims to help athletes have a positive, winning mindset to focus on performing at their best in pressurised competitive environments. Through making marginal improvements in training, athletes develop the tools to build a stronger competitive mentality, which could make the difference between winning and losing.

Working with Sally is helping me to prepare psychologically and to put systems in place for both training and competitions. Having a positive and focused mindset in pressurised environments has helped me focus and maintain optimal performance to ensure winning is inevitable.

More details can be found at: mindodyssey.co.uk

I really look forward to continue working with MindOdyssey and learning new skills in the future.

Sam

 

 

March - The Busiest Month of the Year

March - The Busiest Month of the Year

Hi guys,

Weirdly enough this year March is my busiest month of the year and I've been at full speed making good progress in all areas.

Going back to the end of February I had my birthday and spent a few days back home with the family. I did however manage to sail the Waszp which was great fun. Think I got a new top speed record as well... Across Swanage bay in under 2 minutes! Here is a small video from the session:

Before I went I also went on a great mountain bike ride around the Purbeck hills with some awesome trials. It was great to be back on the Cannondale again and hopefully I will have as good weather next time I go riding!

 Awesome section of the ride through the forest.

Awesome section of the ride through the forest.

 Great view overlooking Poole Harbour and Studland Heath a.k.a mountain biking heaven!

Great view overlooking Poole Harbour and Studland Heath a.k.a mountain biking heaven!

The very next day I returned to Weymouth back to start another British Sailing Team squad camp with my fellow team mates. We had some extreme conditions during the week and on one day I unfortunately snapped my mast!

 You know you are pushing hard when the boat breaks before you do!

You know you are pushing hard when the boat breaks before you do!

 The snapped mast showing how much load goes through the boat.

The snapped mast showing how much load goes through the boat.

Luckily I had a spare at home and my mum kindly drove it all the way to Weymouth the next day to ensure I wouldn't miss any time on the water. Shout out to my amazing parents for all the continued help and support.

The next day was extremely windy and the squad went out for a short and sharp training session. We had great fun and had some serious speed on at times. As the photo below shows, it was very easy to dig the bow of the boat in and pitchpole! Oops.

 The short, sharp chop of Weymouth Harbour threw up some challenges...

The short, sharp chop of Weymouth Harbour threw up some challenges...

I also got some great news that I had been selected for the British Sailing Team Marlow Ropes award! This award allows me to have a certain allowance of Marlow products which will enable me to rig my boat to the highest of standards. It is an honour to have been selected for this and I look forward to many hours of fun rigging up my Laser with the best ropes in the world.

 The Marlow Ropes Award will allow me to use the best ropes available in the world and ensure my rigging is the strongest and most reliable in the fleet. A big thanks also to UK Sport who enable me to have world class coaches and training.

The Marlow Ropes Award will allow me to use the best ropes available in the world and ensure my rigging is the strongest and most reliable in the fleet. A big thanks also to UK Sport who enable me to have world class coaches and training.

Over the last few weekends I have also been competing at the second and third Laser World & Europeans Qualifier, at Weymouth and Stokes Bay SC near Southampton.

The second Weymouth qualifier was again a mixed bag. I had good, average and bad moments but ultimately I finished in 10th place overall and most importantly learnt so much. Its funny how you can spend an entire winter training in one thing and at the first competition of the year realise that you now have a weakness in something different.

 Laser Worlds and Europeans Qualifier 2 - Race 2 Leg 2 Downwind.

Laser Worlds and Europeans Qualifier 2 - Race 2 Leg 2 Downwind.

I then attended the 3rd and final of the spring Laser Worlds and Europeans qualifier, held this time at Stokes Bay near Southampton. The Saturday was pretty windy with some harsh chop making sailing upwind and downwind rather difficult. I sailed fast and consistently to end up with a 5th, 7th and a 7th to leave me in 6th overnight.

Unfortunately on Sunday the wind was howling and after waiting around for a few hours the weather showed no signs of dissipating and the call was made to abandon racing for the day. Therefore I finished in a respectable 6th overall and first Under-21.

 Results from the Laser Worlds & European Qualifier 3 at Stokes Bay where I finished in 6th overall.

Results from the Laser Worlds & European Qualifier 3 at Stokes Bay where I finished in 6th overall.

Unfortunately a error on my behalf meant I was forced to sail the event without any gloves. As someone who has worn gloves his whole sailing career this caused a few issues later on...

 It was worth the pain!

It was worth the pain!

I have just flown out to Palma de Mallorca for the start of the first senior international competition of the year, Princess Sofia regatta. As a group we've managed to find a really nice, affordable apartment close to the sailing club which always makes it easier.

 The lovely view from our apartment.

The lovely view from our apartment.

 Thanks to Bolle I have some new sunglasses to test out on the water in the Spanish sun!

Thanks to Bolle I have some new sunglasses to test out on the water in the Spanish sun!

Racing gets underway on Monday and runs through until Friday. I am raring to go and feeling confident with my abilities!

Thanks for reading,

Sam

February Update

February Update

Finally! Days are getting longer, temperatures (slightly) warmer and the sun has even come outfew time down here in Weymouth. I was actually thinking the other day how I couldn't remember the last time sailing without being cold..

This past month has been a busy one as always. As a small hobby I've been lucky enough to be able to start learning how to sail a Waszp, a high performance foiling (or 'flying') dinghy. Using a hydrofoil under the water it generates lift in the same way an aeroplane wing does and rises out of the water at a certain speed. Its a awesome fun and great to learn how to foil, even if I've crashed and got wet loads of times!

 The Waszp foiling dinghy which I am learning how to sail.

The Waszp foiling dinghy which I am learning how to sail.

 Flying above the surface of the water you go very fast which leads to some spectacular crashes!

Flying above the surface of the water you go very fast which leads to some spectacular crashes!

 ...Such as this one!

...Such as this one!

We've had a range of conditions throughout this month from very light to crazily windy. The month started off quite light and we had some awesome training in the sunshine and fog. I was testing out combinations of different equipment which was great and allowed me to gain a bit more knowledge on what measurements I want for future equipment.

 The first warm day of 2017. Pretty cool sailing in the fog as well.

The first warm day of 2017. Pretty cool sailing in the fog as well.

We then had a squad camp where there was a huge range of conditions ranging from a mega first day and gently calming down throughout the week. We are getting a good number of boats out every session which is allowing us to have intense sessions and good racing.

 TEAMwork.

TEAMwork.

 Very close racing has allowed us to sharpen our racing skills up immensely.

Very close racing has allowed us to sharpen our racing skills up immensely.

The week after the camp finished we got a surprise visit from Alex Thompsons HUGO BOSS. This carbon fibre round the world ocean racing yacht recently finished the Vendee Globe and even after losing her vital starboard foil Alex raced her to her max and finished a very close second place. After the finish she was sailed to Weymouth where she was moored up and I was lucky enough to have a look on-board which was seriously cool. Its amazing how much attention to detail goes into even a 60 foot yacht!

4.jpg

I then had the first national competition of the year, the Noble Marine Worlds & Europeans qualifier held in Weymouth. It was great to have it at the place I live which simplified logistics considerably!

After a long delay due to lack of wind the first day of racing did not go to plan at all. I was being very ambitious with my starts and often struggled to execute my manoeuvres in the final few seconds meaning I was already on the back foot. I then made some poor decision around the race course which ultimately put me in a poor position overnight leading into the second day.

Day 2 of the competition went a lot more to plan. In the first race I had another disappointing 13th position overall however in the final two races I stuck to my plan, played the shifts and sailed fast to finish race 4 and 5 in 2nd and 1st overall. The weekends racing then finished and I was left in 9th place overall - not a disaster but a respectable result especially considering my first day dramas. I need to work on my consistency that's for sure! The next qualifier is once again held in Weymouth in March which should be great fun. Can't wait!

 Great sunset on the tow in after day 1.

Great sunset on the tow in after day 1.

With my birthday being next week I am going home for a few days with the family before back in Weymouth for another intense squad camp. Fingers crossed the weather will be good!

Sam

Freezing January

Freezing January

Yep, its definitely got a lot colder now! Unfortunately the warm spell we had over December seems to have ended and the freezing sub-zero temperatures have returned, leading to some pretty cold sessions on and off of the water.

2017 started with some time with the family back home in Swanage. It was great to be back and relax, reflect and prepare for the year ahead.

 I feel so lucky to call this place home.

I feel so lucky to call this place home.

It also was very nice to return home to find the local newspaper covering my story about being part of the British Sailing Team - thanks guys!

 Great to see sailing taking the back page.

Great to see sailing taking the back page.

I then was at Hayling Island Sailing Club, near Chichester, for some training with one of the best coaches in the country. We had a solid plan and learnt so much which we will definitely use moving forwards.

 First training session of 2017!

First training session of 2017!

Despite the cold my training always continues as normal. Sailing sessions have to be shorter and more intense but it's a good job I have some lovely warm winter kit to prevent hypothermia!

 Thanks to Zhik and Sandiline whose products help keep me warm on these cold winter sessions.

Thanks to Zhik and Sandiline whose products help keep me warm on these cold winter sessions.

As part of my training I've also been putting in a few miles on the bike and have had some great rides with the guys. Apart from the cold it has been really nice weather and we've been exploring the local area. I even discovered an old railway track (now cycle path) which I had never seen before and in the process learnt quite a lot about the history of Weymouth & Portland! Crazy times.

 Exploring the roads around Portland on my bike.

Exploring the roads around Portland on my bike.

2017 has also brought change in the form of a new place to live. Last week I moved into my new accommodation, sharing a lovely little house with a fellow sailor. It's the perfect setup and I even have a lovely view of the sea out of my window - allowing me to capture some epic sunset photos like this one below.

 The view from my room.

The view from my room.

Upcoming I've got a busy month ahead, with a few week blocks of training with a coach before the start of 2017 competitions next month in February. Fingers crossed they won't be too icy cold...

 Game face on!

Game face on!

2016 was undoubtedly the best year of my life. There was a lot of change, many tough decisions and countless obstacles but I worked hard to overcome the challenges and I now feel more at home than ever before.

So what's the plan for this next year? Well I have a few goals, a big plan and a lot of determination. Hopefully combined with a little bit of luck, 2017 will be even better than 2016. We shall see.

I'm doing what I love and what I dream about and for that I am incredibly grateful. Thank you to everyone who is, and has, made this dream a reality. Lets keep pushing onwards and upwards!

Sam