Member of the British Sailing Team and Swanage resident, Sam Whaley has taken the top trophy in the Waszp UK Nationals 2021 at Rutland Water in the East Midlands.
This was the first major regatta for the class since the start of the pandemic last year and took place over the weekend from Friday 18th to Sunday 20th June 2021.
Three intense days of racing
Lining up against more than 50 competitors, Sam Whaley faced three intense days of racing in winds ranging from three to 20 knots.
A Waszp is a small sailing dinghy with added hydrofoils to lift the boat up and out of the water, allowing speeds up to 30 mph, much faster than a more conventional laser dinghy that can usually only go up to 10 mph.
“Knowing I’d won was incredible”
Sam Whaley said:
“I had some great starts over the regatta to have a pretty consistent score line, although I was pushed hard all the way through the 12 races. The feeling of crossing the finish line and knowing I’d won was incredible and one I shan’t forget in a while!
“The Waszp European Championships are due to be held on Lake Garda in August and it’s my goal to podium at these championships.
“However, travel is difficult at the moment so while I intend to be at these championships, it may well be that unfortunately I’ll have to wait until next year to compete at them.”
Learnt to sail at Swanage Sailing Club
Sam Whaley, who has lived in Swanage since he was 11, learnt to sail at Swanage Sailing Club and from there quickly got into racing and competed in his first national competition in 2011.
His progression through the sport was swift and by 2012 he was representing his country at international events.
In 2016, at the age of 19 he was selected for the British Sailing Team and since then he’s based himself between Weymouth and Swanage.
“There’s a real adrenaline rush!”
“My whole job since being picked for the team has been sailing and one day I want to go to the Olympics – that’s the aim. Normally, I spend all my time training and competing, as there’s usually a competition once a month throughout the year. I also do a bit of coaching.
“I got into sailing Waszps to improve my foiling skills. In the America’s Cup it’s about foiling and I want to develop my skills. I’d like to be able to jump into any boat in the world and win.
“Waszps are really fun – it’s like flying above water with typical speeds of 25 mph. It takes a few years to master it but it goes fast – there’s a real adrenaline rush! The hardest bit is getting up on the foil but then it just cuts through the waves.
“At the moment I’m training at Weymouth with Elliot Hanson, who’s been picked for the Tokyo Olympics. We’ve been training together, mainly in lasers, for most of the pandemic.
“He’s off to Japan in about two weeks and it’s been a real privilege to train with him and help him be in the best place possible to win us a medal. Hopefully he can deliver!”
Meanwhile back in Dorset, Sam’s main focus this year is to do well in the Laser World Championships in Barcelona in September. Hopefully with Covid restrictions easing there’ll be more races for him to compete in and, of course, win!