SWANAGE sailor Sam Whaley credits Team GB’s Micky Beckett for helping turn his career around.

The highly-rated youngster, who races in the ILCA 7 boat class, hit rock bottom in finishing 36th at last year’s World Championships.

“I had a shocker, and it didn’t go to plan,” said Whaley. 

“I felt like I was bashing my head against a brick wall.”

Searching for advice and solutions, Whaley turned to Beckett, one of the leading ILCA sailors in the world and a major medal hope for this summer’s Olympics in Paris.

The pair trained together through the winter.

“Essentially if I carry on sailing the way I am, I’m never going to win an Olympic medal,” Whaley admitted. 

“I need to improve my downwind speed and starting.

“It’s great to have Micky as such a strong training partner. He’s teaching me a lot, hopefully he can learn a bit from me, and we can drag levels out of each other.

“Consistency is one of the strongest parts of my sailing right now, but the top guys have that ability to move through the fleet at speed and excel at the front.”

Whaley came away from the recent ILCA World Championships in Adelaide in 18th place, denied a landmark win in qualification when the race was called off while he held a 30-second lead.

“At times, I felt like I was stuck in low gear and couldn’t quite hit my stride,” said Whaley. 

“But I’ve seen some real improvements in the big focus areas I’ve been trying to develop in the last six months. I’m starting to see some good progress.

“This is the third time I’ve finished in the teens at a World Championships now, which is cool to see, but I’m more excited for the future and slowly but surely doing all of this stuff to try to get into that top ten and onto the podium.”

Whaley will have to wait for his Olympic chance with two-time world silver medallist Beckett already earning selection for Team GB in the class.

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