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February 28, 2019 5 min read

We spoke to sponsored sailors Arabella Saberton and William Harrison about their recent February training trip to Barcelona.

Q: How long have you both been in the Nacra 15 Youth Squad now?

A: We are now in our second year of winter squad and were part of the summer squad for 2018.

Q: So why decide to train outside of the UK? Is this new to the youth squad?

A: If you remember last year, February was very harsh cold and windy, this made our February half term training very tough. Whilst we were braving the severe conditions to get 2 hours a day on the water, the British sailing team were posting reports on their training in Vilamoura. This made us have a rethink about how best to use the limited time we have for training in February.

Q: So how did you settle on Barcelona as a training venue?

A: Last year we all sailed there for the Worlds and Youth Olympic Games qualifier, the facilities are second to none with access to near perfect training conditions every day.

Q: Were the GBR squad the only Nacra’s there?

A: Another reason from training in Barcelona was that fact that through the efforts of the Class Association and our coach Tom Walker, we had coordinated our dates as best as possible to align with some of the other nations also training at the same venue. We were on the water and able to train with teams from BEL / NED / ESP / GER.

Q: How did things work out training with the other nations?

A: For part of the day we would work on our own targets, but would come together usually in the afternoon, to compete in a number of mini races with the other sailors. This really gave us the ability to analyse over the week, where we were strong and where we had room for improvement.

Nacra 15 sailing in Barcelona - Sailing Chandlery

Q: So what were the big training gains compared to training in the UK?

A: The biggest obvious gain is time on the water, With the setup we had, we could be on the water around 9:00 to catch the drainage breeze, taking a nice relaxing lunch once the wind died reviewing our gains from the morning. Then back out around 14:00 for another long session in some cases lasting until around 18:30 in the afternoon, giving us 6 hours + productive time on the water every day. Most importantly it was warm enough to do this productively.

Q: So the weather was consistent through the week?

A: For this time of year, the weather format seemed to follow the same pattern each day with an early breeze from the land in the morning, swinging and building in the afternoon from the sea. Perfect for training runs trying out new settings and techniques.

Q: Wasn’t it a lot more expensive than training in the UK?

A: Barcelona International Sailing Centre (BISC) run a winter program, which includes accommodation / full board / gym access / training room access / boat storage all of one price per person per day, which is very reasonable. The additional cost is getting the boat to Barcelona, but thankfully our parents loved the idea of a road trip.

Q: Parents on a road trip, sound interesting?

A: To save on boat transport, Sailing Chandlery were kind enough to loan us their event trailer, in this we were able to load 5 boats, and this was towed by 1 vehicle. Meaning only one ferry crossing / 1 set of tolls and fuel. With 18 hours door to door, I think the parents loved every minute.

Q: So given what everyone has learnt this year, will you be training in Barcelona next year?

A: I really hope so, we still need to discuss it with the RYA but I think they will agree that it was a successful week. We may even do what some nations do and ship the boats in December and base ourselves from BISC, from December through to March. With cheap flights we can be onsite at BISC quicker than it takes many teams to get to Weymouth on a Friday evening.

Q: We know you're a big fan of Zhik clothing, what kit were you using for the week?

A: The usual suspects, either summer skiff suit or SuperWarm (on the colder days), 260 boots, hydrophobic top, T2 trapeze harness, PPD2 and or course the H1 Helmet.

Q: So you are back just in time for the Dinghy Show, will you be attending and will there be a Nacra 15 at the show?

A: Looking forward to the Dinghy Show, my time will be split between talking to people on the Nacra 15 class stand, we have the official launch of the Nacra 15 (FCS) The full foiling package. This will enable us to go flying like our big brothers on the Nacra 17.

Q: Any other stands of interest?

A: Of course I am looking forward to helping our on the Sailing Chandlery stand, It is always great to talk to customers about the kit that we are using all year round, given the time we spend on the water and the physical nature of the Nacra it gets a lot of abuse and stands up to this amazingly.

Q: Are you looking for any new kit?

A: We are always excited about the new Zhik kit launched at the show, the new T3 trapeze harness looks amazing, along with the new Zhik boots. I am sure we will be updating our sailing wardrobe this weekend.

Q: So what is next on the sailing calendar?

A: So we have another couple of training weekends scheduled in Weymouth for March, leading up to the 2019 Youth Nationals which this year will be held at WPNSA in April, this will see the biggest yet Nacra 15 fleet in the UK, with close to 15 boats competing, with some teams visiting from BEL and NED.

Q: So for any Junior sailors looking to transition, would you recommend the Nacra?

A: The Nacra 15 is an amazing boat, it’s by far the fastest and most exhilarating youth class, with a sailing calendar, that has taken us to some of the most amazing International venues in the last couple of years, with upwards of 60 boats on the start time at the World and European championships, the racing is extremely competitive.

Q: How would new sailors get involved?

A: We are a friendly fleet, come and talk to us at the dinghy show, take a look at the boat. There are a number of second-hand boats on the market right now, so you don’t need to buy new. We are also going to be present at the Optimist transition day at Draycote on April 28th, come along and have a ride.

Q: Well great talking to you and best of luck for the coming season, and we look forward to hearing what you think about the new range of Zhik kit.

A: Thank you for supporting our training this winter with the loan of the trailer, hopefully our parents brought it back all clean.