Welcome to Actisense

Welcome to Actisense

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A huge welcome to my new sponsor Actisense!

Actisense is a market leader in the manufacture of intelligent marine electronic products. They aim to be the installer's product of choice by making navigation safer with the most reliable boat electronic systems. 

 Signing the contract with CEO Phil Whitehurst.

Signing the contract with CEO Phil Whitehurst.

Based in Poole, Dorset on the south coast of England, Actisense has established an enviable world-wide reputation within the specialist field of marine electronics. This has been achieved by providing an excellent level of service to our extensive client base and through the design and manufacture of prestigious marine electronic equipment.

Check out their website and social media here:

www.actisense.com

www.facebook.com/actisensenews

www.twitter.com/actisense

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Laser Inland Champion

Laser Inland Champion

Very pleased to announce that yesterday I won the Laser Inlands Championships for a second year in a row! It definitely was one of the coldest events of my entire life, with the average temperature barely above 5 degrees on both days but I found a good rhythm with the conditions and managed to notch up four wins out of 6 races.

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 Travelling in style thanks to Volvo Cars UK.

Travelling in style thanks to Volvo Cars UK.

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Huge thanks as always to Sailing Chandlery for kitting me out with the best kit for the conditions.

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10th at the RS200 Nationals

10th at the RS200 Nationals

Just finished another brilliant week at the RS Games in Weymouth, this time in a slightly different boat to usual, the RS200.

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The RS200 is a double handed, spinnaker hiking boat so very different to the sailing I'm used to! Teaming up very last minute with my friend Sophie Dawson after her helm pulled out, I turned up in Weymouth on the Sunday to sail with her for the first time before the racing against 120 boats started the next day.

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The racing was extremely hectic and we didn't make it easy for ourselves, sinking in the first race and having to return to shore before various other incidents during the week such as a couple of capsizes here and there - not fast! Gate starts were also a totally new experience for me and proved to be incredibly hard to judge.

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Still, we managed to finish in 10th overall, something I'm really happy with especially considering my very limited 200 and spinnaker boat experience and having never sailed with Sophie before. It was great fun racing against many of my sailing friends new and old and I really hope we can make the nationals next year. Talking about the nationals next year does this means we're pathfinder for race one next time then?!

Sam

RS Aero World Champion

RS Aero World Champion

Very proud to announce that yesterday I won the RS Aero World Championships in Weymouth as part of the RS Games, one of the largest sailing events ever held!

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It truly was a superb week full of tough racing, wacky conditions and great onsite support & activities. The fleet was huge; 206 Aeros in total with 103 in the 7 fleet alone. Split fleet racing was required and was very tough with Aeros firing in from all sides of the course at any moment which made it essential to pick the right time to tack back in.

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The 5 day long event started off with light winds before progressively getting windier as the week went on. By racing on Friday we had gusts over 30 knots during racing which made it a wild ride onboard but great fun with smiles all round. 

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I put quite a bit of time before the event figuring out some good settings for high and low modes and it was very pleasing to see during racing that I had great upwind speed, allowing me to work my way to the front of the fleet even when things did go pear-shaped!

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Downwinds were great too and the wider angles I were doing in the event really seemed to pay off. Don't be afraid to reach!

My starting generally was also very good with the exception of one race, which was also very pleasing as there were many many black flagged starts (usually a small weakness of mine seems to be picking up these!).

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My boat was also working perfectly and I knew all the control lines inside out which always helps. I could have tweaked them mid-event as they were slightly out of range but decided to stick with what I knew and left them as they were. Used some great new ropes from Sailing Chandlery.

Overall it was a wonderful week full of great racing, great conditions and great people. It feels great to be world champion and I look forward to hopefully defending my crown next year!

Laser National Champion!

Laser National Champion!

Very excited to announce that last week I won the prestigious Laser Nationals, held in Plymouth over 6 days against some of the UKs best sailors.

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It was a fantastic week down in Plymouth and despite 2 days being called off with a lack of wind we still managed to get 10 races completed in some really tricky conditions.

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GBR 213719

Unfortunately due to one bad event for me at the very start of this season I have not qualified for a space at the World Sailing Championships. I'm furious I'm not there but am determined to go and prove that there has been a big mistake made. I am not going to rest until I win. 

Instead I am going to be competing at the RS Aero World Championships, in Weymouth. These are going to be great fun and I really cannot wait to start racing on Monday. Going to go out there with fire in my stomach and an open mind and see what I can do! 

 Had the pleasure of meeting Mike Bushall from BBC Breakfast the other day. What a nice guy he is. Looking forward to working with him in the future. Watch this space!

Had the pleasure of meeting Mike Bushall from BBC Breakfast the other day. What a nice guy he is. Looking forward to working with him in the future. Watch this space!

Cheers.

Sam

June - RS Aero Nationals & Kiel Week

June - RS Aero Nationals & Kiel Week

June started off for me at the RS Aero Nationals, a great event I went to with my younger brother Ben. Read about it below:

 

RS Aero Nationals 2018 

 

With the past three months being a whirlwind of activity in many different counties it was nice to return home and go do a fun event with my younger bro Ben. 

Having both had an awesome time at the RS Aero nationals last year we were eager to return to the great atmosphere and racing, making the drive up to Abersoch, in Wales, with much excitement a few days beforehand. 

It was Ben’s turn to repay me for all the free taxi rides I had given him over two years and so he drove, with me being in DJ/entertainment in the passenger seat. 

 Some amazing scenery on the roads to Abersoch.

Some amazing scenery on the roads to Abersoch.

Arriving on the beach in Abersoch we were greeted by cloud and rain - not ideal!

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Luckily the weather did clear and things were quickly made up when we found out our charter boats were brand new, so it was a delight unpacking everything from the wrapper - thanks RS Sailing for the amazing service.

 One of my personal touches - elastic pulling the downhaul and outhaul up and off. 

One of my personal touches - elastic pulling the downhaul and outhaul up and off. 

 I also fitted a smaller, thinner mainsheet (just personal preference) and put my watch in front of the mainsheet boom blocks.

I also fitted a smaller, thinner mainsheet (just personal preference) and put my watch in front of the mainsheet boom blocks.

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Unfortunately the weather forecast did not look good at all for the 4 days, with some very light winds predicted with little chance of a sea breeze.

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Indeed the first day greeted us like this! No racing.

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Luckily the sun came out for the next day and we finally got some wind.  

Over the next two days we got in some good racing, with extremely tough conditions in winds ranging from 3-12 knots. 

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Unfortunately there was no wind on the last day and no sailing but after putting myself in a good position after the previous two days it was an amazing feeling to win the Aero nationals for the second year in a row!

 Bringing the trophy home for the second year in the row!

Bringing the trophy home for the second year in the row!

 Returning home to Swanage it was amazing to see the paper covering my story at the Aero nationals. It was, however, much tougher than simply ‘easing’ to victory!! 

Returning home to Swanage it was amazing to see the paper covering my story at the Aero nationals. It was, however, much tougher than simply ‘easing’ to victory!! 

Following on from my article I wrote last year about the Aero Nationals (found here) I have started work on a intructional video series, aimed at showing how to get the best out of your Aero across all areas such as setup, technique, decision making and more. Here is a small promo video:

 

 Back to Swanage

 

The following day after getting back I jumped straight back into my training. Below is a photo of my favourite cycling route, a challenging 23km route with over 500 metres of climbing over a mixture of terrain and beautiful landscapes. Highly recommended!

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 Dream team. 

Dream team. 

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Whilst home for those few days I also did some coaching in the RS Vareo with a local sailing club member. It was great fun and always useful to learn and understand how every boat ‘works’ and what I can do to drive every little bit from the boat.

I also went out for a big day in the Laser just off of Durlston Head with a friend of mine, Ben Flower. It was great windy training with huge waves to test our boat handling skills. Learnt some valuable mode settings in conditions where knowing when to go high or low was vital. Check out the video of Ben and his wipeout!

 

Back in the Laser 

 Weymouth Harbour 6-7 knots.  

Weymouth Harbour 6-7 knots.  

Straight back into my Laser I went to a youth squad camp in Weymouth for a couple of days before setting off to table to Germany for Kiel Week.

  

 Kiel Week

 

After driving for an entire day from England to Kiel in Germany I was greeted with cold rain (there seems to be a trend with rain on my arrival!). Luckily some of the showers passed and I was able to set up camp in my tent.  

Kiel is great for camping as the site is right next to the dinghy park and the facilities are good so it’s usually the one camping event of the year.  

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Kiel Week is much more than just sailing and so the place is really alive and buzzing with people from all over the world. This means the ‘sailing club’ is also awash with pop up stalls of all kinds, live music and a great atmosphere all round. 

 Setting up base.

Setting up base.

 Fireworks on our first night there.

Fireworks on our first night there.

 Tent life isn’t too bad!

Tent life isn’t too bad!

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 It was nice to be next to my brother Ben with his 470 next to me in the boatpark.

It was nice to be next to my brother Ben with his 470 next to me in the boatpark.

After a couple of days of lovely sunny conditions and shifty but entertaining training we set about racing for 5 days. 

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Well it certainly turned out to be a windy, wet and cold week! I had a strong start to the regatta and whilst I had a few minor hiccups along the way I finished 19th overall/120, a respectable results given the seriously tough fleet this year with numerous Olympians in the racing. 

I was really happy with my thinkings having improved my process execution considerably as well as my starts, only getting one bad start during the week.  

However still lots to improve!

 Returning back home to Swanage in baking heat and sun, if not a touch too little wind! 

Returning back home to Swanage in baking heat and sun, if not a touch too little wind! 

 With the UK summer now in full swing there really is some beautiful scenery around back home.

With the UK summer now in full swing there really is some beautiful scenery around back home.

So that’s the end to another big month. July looks to be even bigger with training out in Aarhus, Denmark, and the Laser nationals at the end of the month. 

Stay tuned! 

 

Sam 

Medemblik Regatta

Medemblik Regatta

Despite being back home for less than a week I was back on my travels once again, this time heading to Medemblik, in the Netherlands, for the annual Medemblik Regatta (formally Delta Lloyd Regatta).

With just my coach and fellow British Sailing Team Laser sailor, Elliot Hanson, we drove out in one of the team Volvos and went straight into our training.

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We got one fantastic day on the water, with some light and shifty wind making training very interesting.

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Unfortunately I had a disastrous start to the regatta and was immediately on the back foot going into day 2.

My performance throughout the week went from strength to strength and I really found my form upwind in the last three fleet races, leading around every first windward mark.

Despite my performance getting better throughout the week I missed out on the medal race and ended up finishing 13th overall, not a result I am happy with.

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On the plus side I did get some fantastic rides under my belt in the amazing Dutch weather.

Up next for me is a small rest before heading off to the RS Aero Nationals later this week with my brother Ben, I'm really looking forward to be racing this fantastic boat again!

Thanks for reading.

Sam

Introducing Sailing Chandlery

Introducing Sailing Chandlery

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Very excited to announce Sailing Chandlery as a new sponsor to my Olympic sailing campaign! 😃
Sailing Chandlery are an online chandlery with great prices, fast delivery and are now even an authorised Laser dealer! Check out their website: www.sailingchandlery.com

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:

 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.

 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!

 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 Sailing Dinner!

Dinner served at the Sam Whaley Sailing 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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