Professional training inspires club racers

Two days' race training from a BST sailor has had inspirational results
05 Oct 22
Sam Whaley talking to participants

Whitefriars Sailing Club began their 2022 season with two days’ race training from Sam Whaley, a member of the British Sailing Team. Starting with the juniors aged 12 to 14 on day one, he went on to coach the later teens and young adults on day two – a total of 23 sailors - and the results have been inspirational for race training sessions over the summer.

Rupert Whelan, Chief Sailing Instructor, explains that the club had two aims for Sam’s visit: “First, we wanted to try and get the people who were doing some of my race training, or racing in the junior group, and those without anything to progress to, to start racing or ‘leapfrog’ up the fleet. And second, we wanted to improve the overall numbers and standard of racing at the club.”

A youngster in a dinghy on the water credit Robert Owens

To achieve these aims, Sam’s training was targeted mostly at those who were a little newer to sailing and had started a bit of racing but needed more encouragement following their level 2 course. It involved some boat handling, but concentrated a lot on tacking, especially roll tacks, and some basic windward/leeward courses, getting everyone working at their skill level. Both days ended with races.

According to Rupert, there has definitely been an upturn in youth racing, in terms of both numbers and standard, and more boats are now joining his Saturday afternoon race coaching sessions than before: “This year we really got a lot people coming down to that, to develop what they learned from Sam. He built on stuff that we’d done before, and he’s provided inspiration to that base, and now we’re carrying it on in those sessions. One of my attendees has been off doing sea cadet racing, and has bought a Laser already despite being Tera Pro rig sized!”

A youngster practising in a dinghy on the water credit Robert Owens

Chloe and Toby were two of the young participants, both 13 at the time of the training. 

Chloe particularly enjoyed meeting an Olympic hopeful: “My most memorable part was learning how to roll tack through a demonstration and how to improve my starts. I’m now trying to do roll tacks - and wanting to do them – and making sure I have a good start.” 

Toby enjoyed doing the more advanced race training, which showed him how valuable clean air and a good start is: “Everything has improved! I do better roll tacks, get more clean air and better starts and I’m sailing a better course. I’m more keen on racing and inspired to sail a laser - even if I have a bad start I can catch up. The training has also inspired me to sail competitively outside the club. I have competed in the sea cadets’ regattas, won the area competition, and came 2nd in the regional one!”

“Also, can Sam Whaley come back to do some more race training?!”

Sam is very much a singlehanded/Laser specialist, but the sailors who have increased their participation and results have involved quite a range of boats, including five Lasers, two Tera Pros, two Tera Sports, two Q’ba, one Supernova, one Topper Argo and one 29er.

If you would like to invite a sailing professional to your club for pre-season training, contact SW Regional Development Officer Rob Howlett for more information.