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Solid start for Brits as Tokyo 2020 gets underway

by Will Carson, RYA 25 Jul 15:09 BST 25 July - 4 August 2021
Ali Young in the Women's ILCA 6 on Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Competition Day 1 © Sailing Energy / World Sailing

Racing began today at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Competition with a change in weather from the training period as the wind swung to offshore as effects of the approaching tropical storm took hold.

Ali Young (Laser Radial) is taking part in her third Olympic Games, while there are debuts for Tom Squires (Men's RS:X), Emma Wilson (Women's RS:X) and Elliot Hanson (Laser).

The youngest sailor in the team, Emma Wilson, started strongly to sit fourth overall at the end of day one in the women's windsurfing fleet. Her scorecard reads 5-2-(6).

Elliot Hanson started his Olympic competition with a fifth-place race finish. With winds too light and shifty to carry on race two was abandoned and they were sent back ashore.

Ali Young started conservatively and struggled to recover in race 1 finishing 24th, bounced back with an eighth.

Windsurfer Tom Squires survived the light wind day and is now looking forward to bigger breeze forecast for remainder of week. Also sits 14th overall with a 9-13-(14) scorecard.

RS:X Men

Tom Squires, 27, from Kingston Bagpuize, Oxfordshire, said:

"Today was filled with anxiety and pressure going into my first Games. I was nervous in a way. I had so many different feelings and you don't get that very often, whatever it may be. Anxious. Nervous. Excited. All those things mixed together.

"To get off the start line was such a relief and then get into what I know which is windsurf racing. I'm not so good in the light winds and we had two light wind races at the start. I have to go twice as hard as everyone else.

"They're long races, about 20 minutes each. And I kind of blew up about five minutes in so I had to recover that. But just to get an average result at the start feels good.

"I don't think the feeling of being an Olympian is going to settle for a few weeks, maybe even years, but it doesn't change anything for me. I just love windsurfing and racing.

"The wind is supposed to be picking up and I'm supposed to be better in the bigger breeze because I'm a bigger guy. I love windsurfing in 'proper' windsurfing conditions if you know what I mean.

"I feel much more settle in myself to move forwards through the week. It's a long week. It's amazing how you can get distracted by loads of different things and forget about the real basics. I look forward to just doing the basic things to get back up the leaderboard after a light wind day."

Laser Radial

Ali Young, 34, from Bewdley, Worcestershire, said:

"It was pretty hot. It was two very different races with quite big change in the conditions. It's not a standout start to the regatta but its reasonable considering some people put in some pretty big scores today.

"It's good to get racing and into the swing of things. It's fun to be out on the water and thankful for the opportunity.

"The forecast is changing quite a bit so we will have to wait and see what the next week brings, but I'm just thankful to be here and thankful to the National Lottery for making it happen."

RS:X Women

Emma Wilson, 22, from Christchurch, Dorset, said:

"It's been pretty physical out there, really physical. The first race we had quite nice wind and by the last one it was literally pump as hard as you can and just keep pumping. It was pretty tiring, but we train every day for it, so we kind of expected it.

"It's really cool, my first Olympics and a first day like that - I couldn't have asked for more, I'm just really enjoying it. I'm not nervous anymore. I was nervous before, but now I'm just looking forward to chilling out a bit and coming back tomorrow.

"The key to consistency out on the racecourse was to be in the moment, to enjoy it and to keep pumping hard. The plan is to recover, come back tomorrow and do the same."

Laser Standard

Elliot Hanson, 27, from Macclesfield, Cheshire, said:

"It's great to be under way. There's obviously a lot of anticipation built up, certainly over the last couple of days but equally over the last 18 months - or definitely over the last 12 months when the Games were postponed. So it's great to be off the mark, out the blocks and out the box well more importantly.

"We're now only 10% through the racing - one race out of ten so far - but I'm out of the blocks well, so I just need to find my stride for the rest of the race and hopefully finish well.

"To be honest, I haven't even noticed [if anyone was struggling] and the last three weeks we've been sailing out here the guys struggling could be any one of the top ten guys who are here - it is the nature of our fleet and the nature of the conditions we've got in Enoshima so I wouldn't be surprised if there's a varied set of up and down results for everyone over the coming week especially if we continue to get this set of conditions.

"The best man at the end of the week will be the one who has stayed consistent and managed to perform on any given day, or in any given condition that's thrown at us.

"I always try to learn something every day when I'm out on the water and part of that is because when you've been sailing a Laser for 10 years or more it's a nice way not to stagnate in the class and to feel like you're continuing to learn.

"The biggest problem for me is that today I was a debut Olympian and tomorrow I'll go in with twice as many days' experience, but as soon as you're out on the water it's just like any other sailing event.

"A lot of the background noise in on shore, but as soon as you're out there and used to racing against the same guys, the wind and water don't know it's the Olympics so it's just a case of tackling the problems that are thrown at us each day."

Full results and the competition schedule can be found here.

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