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GJW Direct 2020

Jack Graham-Troll 2019 season round-up

by Lynne Graham-Troll 31 Dec 2019 17:00 GMT
Jack Graham-Troll at the Lake Garda race clinic © Jack Rockett

Sometimes you have to look back to realise how far you've come and GJW Direct sponsored sailor Jack Graham-Troll has done just that.

What has been the key to Jack's achievements this year?

"Determination to improve my strengths and tackle my weaknesses by taking full advantage of training and focusing on building my fitness.", says Jack. "I feel I've matured and gained confidence, establishing myself within the fleet."

Determined to improve sailing technique, boat handling skills and tactical thinking, brought big rewards for Jack this year.

Jack said, "It feels like the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy has become my second home."

Jack has been training at Weymouth many times this year with the UK Laser Association. "It's so important to practice skills in all conditions, as the sea state changes so much and there are many variables to learn.", said Jack. "Inside the harbour there are small wind shifts and short chop, whereas in the bay the wind is more consistent with long rolling waves and swell."

Jack is a member of Grafham Water SC and trains in the Laser club programme run by experienced National Squad coaches. Inland water sailing differs a lot from the sea, as wind shifts are greater and effected by the land around. "Having the opportunity to train with the Radials and Standards encourages me to push even harder too.", says Jack.

When ever there's an opportunity, Jack enjoys training with the Royal Lymington Yacht Club. "It's where I cut my teeth learning to sail the Laser" Jack said. It's very tidal and a great location to practise drift rates and fine tune starting tactics. Jack says "It's one of my favourite places and a great feeling to sail out along side the Isle of Wight ferry, a huge vessel compared to my Laser dinghy. Yet more often than not we also cross the Solent and reach the Isle of Wight during our training sessions."

Jack's training highlight of the year was a week on Lake Garda at the Andrew Simpson Watersports Centre. The Race Clinic started in light air so the focus was on light wind tacks, and when not on the water, the main topic was fitness with a mountain hike up to one of Lake Garda's most stunning vantage points. Jack said the best day was when the wind filled in, "My downwind sailing technique greatly improved on a 26 mile run the length of the lake."

Jack said, "Making the most of training at different venues in variable conditions really tests your abilities and improves your skills".

Jack says that fitness has played a major part in his recent success too.

Being fresh and focused in the last race on the final day is so important as great gains can be had when others are tired and weary, especially when the results are going down to the wire!

Jack says that many school friends who's interests are football or athletics, say that in sailing the boat does all the work and you don't need to be fit, but all dinghy sailors know how very wrong they are!

Jack met with Brackley Leisure Centre earlier this year and was delighted with the offer of their support.

"What a valuable asset to have, support from your local gym!", said Jack, "I'm able to walk there after school and work on my fitness programme, I can really see the difference in myself, my abilities and performance."

During the three years Jack's been sailing, it's evident to him that knee injuries through constant hiking and sailing in extreme conditions are becoming more common. The importance of strengthening the parts of the body most susceptible to injury is paramount. Sadly, Jack has come to know a growing number of dedicated sailors effected by injury to the point of having to give up the sport altogether.

Jack said, "When Danielle at Reboot Injury Clinic offered to support me with injury prevention and body strengthening, I jumped at the chance!"

Jack had a full injury risk assessment and was put through his paces with several sets of movements and exercises designed to prevent injury to vunerable parts of the body and increase strength and fitness.

Improving fitness and injury prevention enables Jack to perfect his boat handling techniques and skills, "I am more able to execute the moves properly" said Jack. Unfortunately for many young sailors, it's their fitness that prevents them from mastering some of the more technical skills required for sailing at the front.

When Jack was asked what had been the highlights of the year so far, Jack replied, "I was absolutely over the moon to have qualified for my first ever international event, the Laser 4.7 European Championships in Hyères, France."

The Qualifiers brought some really tough sailing in challenging, gusty conditions. For Jack, knowing that he was one of the youngest and least experienced sailors, to be officially offered a place to sail at the European Championships for Great Britain was quite inspirational!

The Laser Nationals at Largs will always be one to remember for Jack and a time when it all just seemed to come together. "What a week!" exclaimed Jack.

The competition was tough, really experienced sailors in a strong fleet. Jack made a really good start by leading day one and despite extremely mixed conditions of light and shifty winds, thunderstorms, postponements, abandoned races and protests, Jack's determination and commitment paid off!

"I was so proud to become the Laser 4.7 National Champion 2019", said Jack. What an honour to be presented with the 'Martin Boatman Trophy' by his family and with Jack's sponsor Jeremy Entwistle from GJW Direct there to see it too.

Jack said the support from Jeremy and GJW Direct has been a real asset. The approach to the slipway at Largs can be tricky at times with rocks hidden below the water. "With my mind going over the day's results and my centreboard still down, I hit a rock and CRACK!" Without a quibble GJW Direct replaced the centreboard and Jack continued his Nationals campaign with amazing results.

"A massive thank you to everyone who believes in me, supports me, coaches me and helps me, I really do appreciate it.", says Jack.

Following the Nationals, and still a non-squad sailor, were two very important Squad qualifier events. "I knew I had to perform or all my hard work would be for nothing.", said Jack.

Kicking off the new season was the first Squad Qualifier at the venue where Jack had his first race win. It was a good time to gauge what improvements he'd made and in tricky conditions Jack read the wind shifts well and applied good race tactics to win the event.

The second Squad Qualifier was a complete contrast, extremely tough sailing in the north sea with rain, strong winds and big seas! All the focus and hard work to improve fitness was a huge advantage and yielded another good result.

It's been a really tough year and hard work getting there, but Jack says, "It made it all worthwhile when I received the offer of a place on the National Laser 4.7 squad!"

So what does Jack plan to focus on during the twelve months ahead?

As Laser 4.7 National Champion, Jack is now concentrating on the 2020 European and World Championships. Both at two very different venues, one in the Atlantic sea with huge swell and waves, the other more inland with shifty wind conditions. Jack's theory of training in a variety of different conditions and getting the most from the resources available to him, will be a great help towards achieving some really good results at International competitions. And at only 14 years old, with Jack's determination and commitment, surely the best is yet to come!

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