Ashley Greenall secures RYA Transition Squad place

PUBLISHED: 12:09 31 January 2011

Ashley Greenall

Ashley Greenall


Teenage sailor looking ahead to a big year

Young sailor Ashley Greenall has secured a place on the Royal Yachting Association Transition Squad which aims to develop the best young sailors in the country.

Here, the teenager, who has just turned 17, explains all about being accepted into the squad and what it feels like to be getting closer to sailing at the Olympics.

How was 2010, and what were your highs and lows?

A definite high in 2010 was the Inland Championships as coming sixth was a great achievement, but the highlight of my year was the World Championships in Italy.

I have never sailed as such an amazing place where the wind would turn on at about midday and was a steady breeze with 35 degree’s temperature.

It made all those training days in -5 degrees seem worth it.

Although Italy was a major high it was also a major low as it was an end of an era; it was my last event in a Topper and I was leaving many friends behind, selling my boat and moving into the 29er and sailing into the unknown.

Can you tell about the new squad you are part of, how you joined and how this affects your training/competing?

My new squad is called the RYA Volvo 29er transitional squad and it feeds new people to the 29er into the youth squad which is the next step and we hope to get into that squad by the end of this year.

It equips you with all the knowledge and skills you need to make a smooth transition into the class.

At the end of last year my sailing partner and I attended three training weekends. At these weekends the coaches were constantly observing us on our sailing and how we pick things up and also our attitude to our sailing.

On these weekends there were up to 25 boats and we were one of nine picked to go into the transition squad. One of the terms of getting to the squad is that we attend one international event so in the summer we will be attending the European Championships in Switzerland.

How was your first training session, and what did you do?

On the Saturday of the training camp we went out sailing for about 40 minutes and only half the group went out as it was extremely windy and they needed a lot of safety cover.

The 40 minute session wasn’t very successful with a few ripped sails and broken people; luckily this did not happen to us although we did spend half our time upside down.

The rest of that day was spent going through boat preparation and setting up the boat to go fast and some survival sailing techniques for heavy wind.

The Sunday was a very tiring yet interesting land day with talks throughout the day about nutrition, psychology, Team GBR and what support we have now we are in the squad. These talks were for both parents and sailors.

The rest of the day was filled with fitness tests, the same fitness tests that the Olympic sailors do.

You and the others are close to the Olympic development squad...

It’s scary at the same time as being quite exciting, but it will be a lot of hard work and we’ll take a few years to reach that level.

At our land day the RYA did show us the 10-year plan which is the average time it takes to get to the Olympic level and what steps and squads there are along the way.

Knowing that you are only a few years away can seem daunting but at the same time it spurs you and inspires you to give it your all.

There was some talk at the land day of becoming a full time sailor , or doing it part time whilst at university and which universities are best for supporting sailors on the Olympic development squad programme.

What are your hopes for 2011?

The main thing we are working towards in 2011 is getting into the youth squad, but there are many events we need to do and results we need to get.

During the Easter half time we are attending the youth nationals at Hayling Island; this is a major week long event on the youth calendar.

We will all be competing for international travel grants given to the top few.

We also have the Europeans for a week in Switzerland at the start of the summer holidays where we will be accompanied by our coaches for pre-event training and event support. This will be my first big event without my parents which will be very strange.

Then from this event we will have a few weeks at home before travelling to the 29er Nationals in Torbay. This week long event will attract around 50 boats from all over the world.

In all these events we hope to get top half positions and improve throughout the year, hopefully proving that we are to youth squad standard.

We will be attending lots of weekend Grand Prix events which normally attract about 20 boats and where we will be aiming for some good positions getting better throughout the year as we gain more experience.

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