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Allen 2017 Steel Core 728

Interview with Team Allen's Ellie Wootton and Issie Speirs

by Mark Jardine on 24 Apr 24 April 2017
Team Allen's Issie Speirs and Ellie Wootton © Mark Jardine / YachtsandYachting.com

We spoke to Ellie Wootton and Issie Speirs, Team Allen sailors in the 420 class, about how they first started sailing, their time in Cadets, being part of Team Allen, who their sailing heroes are, and how their coaches have inspired them.

Mark: How did you first get into sailing?

Issie: I started when I was seven years old when I did an RYA summer course; I absolutely loved it, it was so much fun. From that I joined my local club and then went into the Cadet class.

Ellie: When I was about five I got thrown into a Scow with my mum, and we used to go for picnics on the beach and that's how I learnt to sail. I then did some RYA courses, which I hated at the time; the idea of getting wet hair just didn't appeal to me! As time progressed I started to really enjoy it, and I started sailing Cadets competitively then I transitioned to 420s.

Mark: You both went from crewing in Cadets, then onto helming. What made you decide to team up in the 420 class?

Ellie: To be honest I just looked around and decided that Issie would be one of the best people I could ask to crew for me. She's tall and really talented so it should be good!

Mark: And did you decide who was going to helm and crew purely on height?

Issie: Ellie actually wanted to crew but I'd always looked at crewing and loved it. I'd done a bit of 29er crewing before and I always wanted to sail a 420. We talked about teaming up together and then she is a very good helm!

Mark: Your first event in the 420 was the 2016 Autumn Championship, how did that go?

Ellie: It actually went really well! The weekend before we'd capsized around 100 times but during the event we didn't capsize once, despite it being really windy (25-30 knots). It was howling and we had so much fun and finished as fifth girls, which was great for our first event.

Mark: What does being part of Team Allen mean to?

Issie: It's a lovely network of people. We get to try new kit, like the Keyball trapeze system. It's being able to use new types of sailing equipment which are really good.

Mark: What difference do you think it'll make having the Keyball System when you're trapezing?

Issie: It should be a quicker, easier and safer way to clip on, making transitions smoother and improving our teamwork. It's one less system to have to think about as the system is so much quicker and easier to use.

Mark: Ellie, do you have a favourite piece of Allen kit that you like to use?

Ellie: Yes, I really like my ratchet block. It's so much easier than what I had in the Cadet. When I went back to the Cadet for the Worlds I found my mainsheet so much heavier just because the ratchet wasn't as effective.

Mark: What are your aspirations for the 2017 season?

Issie: We started with the Youth Nationals and we're trying to qualify for the Youth Squad. We have fitness profiling for that and we're hoping to also qualify for the Europeans in Athens, leading onto the Worlds in Fremantle. That's the dream, but it's all about having fun, developing good teamwork and improving the whole time.

Mark: Who are your sailing heroes?

Ellie: I have two. My first is the obvious one in Hannah Mills, she's such an amazing sailor and she came to talk to us during the Cadet Nationals. She's so inspirational, has worked so hard to get where she is, and that has paid off. My other is Sam Brearey who coached me from when I was nine years old; having someone who is so talented help you is extremely motivating.

Issie: My coach last year was Mark 'Corky' Rhodes. He was amazing and give me the belief and attitude that I could go out and do it when sailing.

Mark: So you both found your coaches have become your inspirations for your own sailing?

Ellie: Definitely. Also our coach at the Cadet Worlds in Argentina, Pablo Volker, did a lot of psychological work with us, helping our mental attitude, which really helped as sailing is so much a mind-game. He really helped us get over a bad race, getting over it and back on with the sailing. Everyone's going to have a bad race, a bad beat or a bad start now and again and it's all about recovering from that quickly.

Mark: Are your aspirations to follow in Hannah's footsteps into the 470 class and the Olympics at some point?

Ellie: We'll see how it goes. Obviously that would be amazing and a dream but you can't say that you're going to get there.

Issie: Hopefully! Who knows what the future holds?

Mark: The best of luck for the 2017 season. Go out there and have fun!

Ellie & Issie: Thank you very much!

Find out more about Team Allen at allensail.com/team-allen and about Allen Brothers at www.allenbrothers.co.uk

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