GB Windsurfers prepare for Paris!
As the British Sailing Team gears up for Paris 2024, it is that time of year when the athletes find out who has been selected for the test event. I have been lucky to speak to the two highly motivated, incredibly talented GB windsurfers, Emma Wilson and Sam Sills who have been selected to represent Great Britain at the Olympic Test Event in Marseille this summer. The windsurfing test event is due to be held at Marseille Marina from July 11 to 16 2023. Get an insight into how Emma and Sam will prepare for this prestigious honour of representing their country and what it means to be at the top of the windsurfing game.
By Emma Nicholson.
How does it feel to be selected?
Emma said: "Yeah I’m pretty happy to be selected. It’s pretty cool as the level is super high in Great Britain, so to be selected as the one person per country I’m very happy and hope I can go enjoy it and do my best."
Sam said: "I feel really honoured, just a big relief actually, it has been a four year journey to get to this point, well actually more like a 20 year journey actually if you think back to it. This is the second biggest event, apart from the Olympic Games really, as it is the practice for the Olympics. It is huge and to be the one going from your country is a huge huge honour. So happy to be in this position and just so grateful for all the support I have had from The British Sailing Team and the people supporting me around to get me to this position. It wasn't an individual thing it was a big team effort, there is a lot of people in the background that have helped me and I am thrilled that we managed to pull it off and get to this point."
"To be the one going from your country is a huge huge honour."
What happens at the test event?
Emma said: "It’s basically like a dress rehearsal of the Olympic Games. Only one person per country goes and the organisers are testing things for the Olympics next year. I went in 2019 , I remember just being really young and not really knowing what was going on!! I came fourth, so we will see how I can do this time!"
Sam said: "It is basically a practice run for the country, so France to check all of their preparations and to check things are going to run smoothly for next year. It will be as close to the real deal as they can get it I imagine and the whole event is something like 17 days long, depending on which class you are racing in. The windsurfers are racing from the 11th to the 16th so we are one of the last ones to race. it will be like every other event five days long and then the medal race to conclude it. It is going to be intense."
"It’s basically like a dress rehearsal of the Olympic Games."
How will you prepare for it?
Emma said: "I’m going to be training in Weymouth for the next few weeks. It’s nice to be home for a bit and just settle, do some solid training but also be home and relax a bit. Then I’ll go to Marseille at the end of June and practice in the venue, try and learn as much as I can."
How do you prepare mentally?
Emma said: "For me it’s just trying to do everything I can before it. Give 100% in the training, get everything organised, enjoy the windsurfing. If I do all that then I can just go try my best in the races and be happy!"
Sam said: "For me I do really well when I know I have turned every stone, checked every possibility and I really know the venue, know my competitors, know my racing strategies and ready to execute everything I have learnt. Being mentally ready is being physically ready as well."
"Being mentally ready is being physically ready as well."
How do you prepare physically?
Emma said: "Train a lot haha! I’ll do probably 5-6 sessions a week on the water and 5-6 sessions a week in the gym just trying to be the best I can be. Luckily it’s not a bad job and I really enjoy it so I can’t complain!"
Sam said: "It is a bit different depending on what event, what stage you are in the season, particularly for Marseille it is probably going to be light winds, and a lot of pumping, so a big emphasis on trying to be as fit as possible. So how do you prepare for that just having really good consistency, working really hard, rest really hard, that is how you make jumps on that, so that is what the plan is at the moment."
"Luckily it’s not a bad job and I really enjoy it so I can’t complain!"
What does it mean to you?
Emma said: "Yeah I see it as a great opportunity to go race the worlds best in the Olympic venue. If you had told me when I was a little 10 year old I’d be going to my second test event I would have been so happy so I just want to go enjoy it, give it my best and if I do that I’ll be happy!"
Sam said: "It means an awful lot, it is the same venue, the same waters, the same people, the same time of year, it is as close to the Olympic Games as we can possible get right now, having started this journey, four years ago or even 10 years ago for 2014, it means a lot, because it is as close to the real thing as we are going to get. The goal is a gold medal at the end of this campaign, and anything that brings us as close to that as we can get, so the pressure is on to do our best and all you can do is the best you can and hope it is a strange way to think about it, but that is all you can do and so I will be giving everything I have got and doing the best I can."
If you are inspired by Emma and Sam, why not start your windsurfing journey, with us at The Official Test Centre, call 07817 717904 and you never know where windsurfing may take you!