When Tommy Millard received his Bic Techno board in 2017, he said "In two years' time I would like to be in the junior squad for the BIC Techno 6.8 competing for podium places at national events." It's fair to say he's achieved a bit more than that!
The now 14-year-old started sailing at Emsworth SC when he was seven, but fell in love with windsurfing when he joined the Team15 club at the Andrew Simpson Watersport Centre Portsmouth in 2016.
This year Tommy, who turns 15 in January, made both his Europeans and Worlds debut. In August he finished 32nd in the Junior Boy Fleet at the Techno 293 Junior Europeans in Israel. He then made Gold fleet and came 37th at the Worlds in Puerto Sherry, Spain.
Tommy's kit is now donated to the ASWC Portsmouth for the next generation to take advantage of, while he will continue to train and race in the Techno 7.8m category over the next couple of years. We caught up with Tommy to get his take on what being a JMST recipient has done for him.
In what ways did having your own new kit make an immediate difference to you?
Before, I was using a very old board the class association let me borrow to compete in the Regional Championships and some old sails. Having my own board now meant I had excellent kit for training and racing. In the first year I had the kit I was selected for RYA Junior Squad, so this was a huge improvement from just being in Zone squad, then this year my racing results improved lots.
In what ways has your JMST board improved you as a windsurfer?
Either as part of the squad or at ASWC, I've been able to get on the water at least once or twice a week. And knowing my kit is new means it is as competitive as possible so I have only had to worry about rigging tweaks and my own performance, not if my kit is holding me back. Windsurfing has also helped me to learn to be more independent both on and off the water, especially in terms of my preparation and decision making.
What was it like attending the Europeans and Worlds this season?
It was really challenging because the competition was very tough. But I had lots of fun, met lots of people and made new friends. The biggest things I took from the experience was to always try your best and to be happy with your own results.
What would your advice be to a 2019 recipient to ensure they get the most of of their new kit?
It's hard to say if I would be where I am now without my JMST board, but having the right kit so early on in my training has really helped. So I'd say sail as much as possible, train hard and have fun! Now I'm looking forward to training hard over the winter and racing on the new sail next year.