Sam Sills is a busy boy, windsurfing across the UK and around the world, competing in RS:X, slalom and more. Catch up with Sam to find out what he’s been up to over the past couple of weeks….
Sat at the airport on the way back from RS:X Europeans, it’s been a crazy few weeks. Once exams were finished we went straight to Weymouth for Sail For Gold where there was only 6 of us racing, really close fun racing for 5 days.
After a little weekend break we were back on the water as a team training hard for the Europeans. We spent 10 days in Weymouth again working on mainly light wind starts and pumping in anticipation for the conditions in Brest Harbour were the Europeans were going to be held. We had lot of fun, and our coach pushed us pretty hard and started putting pressure on us so we knew what to expect before the event. For example giving forfeits to the losers.. For 2 days the forfeit was to swim the course unless you were first. We were lucky enough to race with the World Champion Nick Dempsey however this meant a lot of swimming…
After the camp we all travelled down to Plymouth to catch a ferry over to Roscoff. The guys were all loaded up in the RYA Volvo and I was in my car “Steven” with mum. Probably the easiest journey to an event I’ve ever done.. jumped on the ferry, hung out on the topdeck for a bit, went to sleep and woke up in France with only a 45min ride up to Brest!!
Once unpacked and sorted we headed out into the harbour to check out the conditions and work out what was going on with the tide. We watched a few races and decided that this event was going to be pretty tough with huge shifts and gusts all over the course, along with a 2 knot tide across the middle!! Someone referred it to playing chess with a kid moving the chess pieces.
After few days training and preparing we were ready for the regatta, you could feel the atmosphere was filled with excitement, nerves and the smell of fresh pancakes from the local sailing club.
The first day was a nice 18-19 knot wind from the south, blowing straight down the harbour and the tide ripping in the same direction to. Of course totally the opposite to what we had just spent 3 days training in. The racing was quite interesting as there was a big hill and the wind was bending and funnelling around it making the course what we call a “gain feature day”. Effectively making the race a speed race to the hill and quick tack to the mark.
For the second day it was offshore, completely crazy wind and lots of seaweed. I had what is know as a “mare”, short for nightmare on this day and destroyed my regatta with an OCS and almost DFL, which stands for “Dead F****** Last”. This was a particularly tough day as there was a lot of pressure to perform well at this event and these 2 races meant I would score in the silver fleet and not be able to make higher than 28th…
At an RS:X event there is 6 days, with the first 2 being qualification, rest day, then 3 more days of racing. Normally on the rest day you travel around, enjoy and take in the scenery, however most of the British 9.5 team spent their time peeling off flags from our sails. We thought we were geniuses to cut the flag to fit perfectly around the seams in the sail… apparently the British flag does not have a big black seam through it and in fact if we did not change them back there would be a 5 point penalty every race.. luckily people were kind enough to lend us spares and we patched everything up before the penalty’s were incurred.
The rest day actually turned into a rest 2 days as there was no wind and we spent the whole day waiting, the gold fleet got sent out and then the silver were cancelled, so most of the silver fleet actually went to the beach to relax and cool off after hot day waiting around.
Finally over the last 2 days the silver fleet got some racing and I scored two 1st and a 2nd but unfortunately it still wasn’t enough to get very high in the results and I finished 32nd overall.
The men’s podium it was a pretty tight battle and in the end consisted of Byron Kokkalanis 1st, Shahar Zubari 2nd and Pierre Le Coq in 3rd and Nick Dempsey in 4th. For the women again it was an incredibly tight battle, with Charline Picon 1st, Bryony Shaw 2nd and Blanca Manchon 3rd.
After numerous pancakes and celebration at the medal ceremony. Israeli team took over the stage and started huge party, everyone going mental! Then went to a bar were everyone was dancing on tables and crowd surfing to celebrate a hard week of racing in France!
Big congratulations to all the Brits that did well, it was super tough week but I think everyone enjoyed and gained a lot of experience from the regatta. I know I did and cant wait for the summers training to improve and test out everything at the next regatta, held in La Rochelle, France at the beginning of September.
Want to thank British Sailing Team for all their support and training, Tushingham Sails and Starboard and also my parents for being general legends and supporting us.