Sam Whaley has eyes on a top ten performance after a strong summer of training

·3 min read
Sam Whaley competing for Great Britain in the ILCA 7 (Lloyd Images)

Swanage's Sam Whaley was handed an unlikely of ultimatum when he was 12 years old: ‘go sailing or clean the house’.

Now 25-years-old and world number 11, it's fair to say he made the right decision to jump in the boat.

Whaley moved to the coast at a young age and initially struggled to make a connection with the sport, but his mum's offer later threw him into the deep end.

The ILCA 7 sailor has gone on to produce consistent performances around the top ten, at every competition he’s entered this year and will now build his momentum into the upcoming European Championships in France later this year.

He said: "When we moved, I didn't really take to [sailing] and the deciding moment was when my mum said if I didn't got to sailing practice on a Saturday, I had to clean the house all morning. So, I thought I should go and try it out and that's how I got into it.

"I've now taken a big step forward over the winter and solidified myself around the top ten in the world which is great.

"My goal coming into the world's this year was top 15 so to finish 11th, I smashed that, so it was quite exciting.

"We've got Europeans in November and whilst I'm on the cusp of top 10 in the world, which is really nice, I'm basically head down and I've still a long way to go before I can start a consistent medal performance.

"And that's kind of the approach I'm taking and the approach I'll take into Olympic trials.

"I'm fully aware that the better I get at sailing, it will solve all the problems I might have.

"We've had a great training group over the winter, there's four guys in the squad training all together really hard.

"And that's kind of the first winter we've all been together on the same calendar doing the same thing with each other to bounce off and get ideas and push each other hard.

"And I've also just got a lot better in the boat, everything has just got to a slightly higher level and increased my performances."

Whaley knows the competition that he faces in the ICLA 7 class, with Britain being the most successful sailing nation in history and a large fleet of highly experienced international sailors from over nations.

But the 25-year-old refuses to be swayed by his tough competition, instead focusing on his own performance, and becoming the best sailor he can be.

Whaley added: "We've got a really great squad but the difficulty with that great squad is that we're all around the top 10 in the world now and it's brilliant in one hand but quite tricky when it comes to Olympic trials.

"My strategy is that I've had a great step forward in performance this year but the only way I can guarantee that Olympic spot is to keep on pushing forward.

“I just need to focus on getting around the course as quick as possible and hope that the rest will sort itself out.

"It's focusing intrinsically on myself for now and in the future knowing I can perform at that high level and win that medal hopefully."

The British Sailing Team are the most successful national Olympic sailing team of all time and will proudly fly the flag for Great Britain at Paris 2024