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Sam Blaker at the RS Games

August 11, 2022 5 min read

Sam Blaker at the RS Games 2022

Sponsored sailor Sam Blaker has spent a few weeks in Weymouth for the RS games, sailing his RS Aero in the Youth World Championships and European Championships. Here is his report.

RS Aero Youth World Championships

The 25th July 2022 was the first day of racing for the first ever RS Aero Youth World Championships that took place at the London 2012 Olympic sailing venue – Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy. 14 races took place across 5 days with varying wind strengths which provided a great opportunity for all 53 sailors. On day 1 we sailed in Portland harbour due to the strong 18 knot breeze. Having a fast boat speed was the key for the day as those that could keep the boat flat and power through the waves upwind managed to pull away from the main pack. After the days sailing, I sat in 3rd place overall after finishing 5th, 3rd and 3rd.

On day 2 we sailed out in Weymouth Bay to hopefully find more breeze due to the light forecast. The first race of the day brought light shifty conditions which made racing tricky. After the first race was completed, we waited around the racecourse for an hour or so to wait for the sea breeze to kick in and for the wind to change direction. As we began the second race of the day the wind had built to around 15 knots with great rolling waves. I finished the day with a 13th, 14th and a 2nd in the final race which put me in 4th place overall after the second days racing.

Light winds threatened the third days racing also and therefore only two races took place. On the first race of the day, I finished in a very respectable 3rd after spotting a left hand shift on the race course upwind however, on the second race I finished right down the pack due to the wind shifting massively right which caught a lot of the fleet out.

Thursday 28th July is a day that I will not forget in a long time and is by far the best days sailing I have had in my sailing career to date. I remember waking up that morning feeling confident and excited to get going. The wind was around 15-20 knots which really suited me, and I couldn’t wait to get started! I finished 2nd in the opening race of the day with a great battle with David which followed by a 4th in the second. After that race I kept thinking to myself “keep chipping away” and I could win the next one. Little did I know I would win the final two races of the day due to my quick boat speed up and downwind. After the excellent days racing it put me in contention for the win only a few points off the lead.

The final day once again brought very light winds and consequently racing was postponed for a couple of hours for the wind to fill in. This was a very nerve-wracking time for me and the other 3 sailors that were in contention for the win and podium. Around mid-day the postponement flag went down, and we were allowed to launch. I finished 5th in the first race which I was incredibly pleased with as light winds are not my strongest. After everyone had finished, I worked out that I remained in second 2.5 points off the lead from Tom who has led from day 1. Jonathan the reigning national champion won the first race of the day in the tricky light conditions to reduce his gap to me in second to 1.5 points. Therefore, going into the last race, we had all guaranteed a podium, but the winner was undecided. Unfortunately for Tom and me we started at the wrong side of the line and got caught out by a big right-hand shift which benefited Jonathan who started at the committee end. Consequently, Jonathan overhauled his point deficit to climb 2 places on the final day to be crowned the first ever RS Aero 5 Youth World Champion! Overall, I finished in third place which looking back on is a great result considering I came so close to the win.

 

RS Aero European Championships Report

After the completion of the Youth World championships, I had the weekend to reflect on the weeks sailing and identify what I could do better but most importantly recover! Another 5 days racing approached, and I was rearing to go to hopefully better my performance in the previous event. The forecast for the week was windy for most of the days with the final 2 days looking light and shifty. The first 3 days of racing brought heavy winds which suited the bigger, heavier sailors. After the first 3 days I sat in 3rd place overall after being consistently in the top 10 with several top 3 results including a 1st on the second day. I was slightly disappointed with my point tally as I felt as though I could have had better results due to my downwind speed letting me down on a few of the races. I was quick upwind but lost a few places downwind. The top 10 this week was incredibly tight with only a few points separating the top 8 sailors. Therefore, being consistent was the key for the week. The final 2 days brought incredibly light shifty conditions with the wind shifting up to 60 degrees at times which made racing incredibly difficult. I struggled on the first 2 races of the penultimate day due to being caught out by several shifts however, I managed to keep a strong head and get to the windward mark in 1st place on the final race of the day. I rounded the leeward mark in 2nd in a strong position to take the win in the race. Unfortunately, the top 5 sailors in the race got caught in a wind shadow and a major 50-degree lift on the left-hand side of the course enabled sailors behind through and therefore I dropped to 6th in that race. Going into the last day I sat in 5th place overall with the 8th place being only 8 points behind. I finished 4th in the first race which I was very pleased with due to the light shifty conditions however, unfortunately, I rounded the wrong leeward gate mark on the final race and therefore lost a handful of places to finish the race in 20th. Therefore, I dropped to 7th place overall due to other sailors having a better discard than myself. I got off the water incredibly disappointed however, I was only 5 points off finishing in 5th place overall and after I have had some time to reflect, I should be proud and pleased with my result considering I was competing against former world champions and an Olympic gold medallist.

These two events wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my sponsor Sailing Chandlery who provide me with some amazing kit and help kit my boat out so that I can be confident that there will be no breakages when on the water. Also, a big thank you goes to Team Surrey who have helped me this year with my training and who have supported me financially.


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