Scott Flanigan, from Malahide Yacht Club has recently qualified for the Olympics in the 470 class with Ger Owens. Ger is a double Olympian has represented Ireland in the 470 class in Athens and Beijing where he had two exciting race wins. Ger was Scott's coach for several years prior to the pair teaming up to campaign for London 2012 last summer, and Scott watched Ger racing in Beijing when he was fifteen. Scott who is now nineteen returned home this weekend for a couple of days rest, before resuming their Olympic campaign in Holland, and visited Malahide Yacht Club. He chatted to the Optimist sailors who were training with their coach David and was impressed with the new facility which opened earlier this year. He spoke encouragingly to the children and gave them some advice.
Colin O'Sullivan, one of the junior sailors interviewed Scott.
How did you get to be so good at sailing?
I started sailing an Optimist, then progressed to a Laser and then a 420, but I actually sailed anything that I got a chance to. I tried Catamarans, Mermaids, Yachts, anything that I could. You learn from every bit of sailing that you do, and learn from other sailors. Fitness and diet are also very important and I have been really lucky in having a great personal trainer, Colin Gaffney, from a young age.
Was it fun?
Yes it was, and I thoroughly enjoyed all the travelling I got to do in Ireland and all over the world. I have made great friends through sailing. I have been both a helm and a crew and have learnt a lot from both experiences.
How did you choose what boat to move into after your Optimist?
I won the Munster Championship in my last year, and that was my last Optimist event. I had already been sailing a Laser a bit, and I liked it. I was good in light winds and did pretty well. Then I moved to the 420 which was great, it was a new experience being part of a team, and I really enjoyed the technical side. Having sailed the 420 I think I would be so much better as an Optimist sailor!
What is your routine like?
When we are away training we sail most days. We start at 7am, head to the gym for a session and head out on the water for some training in the morning. We break for lunch for an hour, then back out again for the afternoon. We have spent most of the year in Palma as we are assured of good conditions and have training partners based there.
Do you have coaching every day?
Unfortunately due to financial constraints, we have not had a full time coach but Ross Killian attends most of the events with us as the support is essential when competing.
What other advice do you have?
My advice would be to keep a journal, it's really important. I have notebooks full of training information and things that I have noticed myself. Every sailor should keep a record of what they've learnt and what they've done. You also need goals, every time you go sailing, every event you compete in, try to have a goal. Sailing is not just about winning an event, it is also about improving. You might decide that you are going to improve your starts at a particular event, and that will be a focus while you're competing. Reading is important too, I have quite a library of sailing books I've picked them up all over the place.
What is your favourite place to sail?
It is hard to pick one venue but when I am at home I love to sail in Howth and Kinsale, and in Europe, Lake Garda and La Rochelle.
What were your best sailing moments?
Sailing in the Youth Worlds with Cian O'Regan in Istanbul, and representing Belvedere College with great success in the school sailing events, and of course qualifying for the Olympics.
What would you tell someone my age?
Sail everything you can. I have sailed Optimists, Fevas, 420s, 470s, Catamarans, and all classes of Yachts. I sailed the Topaz Westerns here in Malahide. Looks can be deceiving in boats but you will always learn something new by being adventurous.
Scott is heading off to Holland to continue his Olympic training programme with Ger Owens. We will be watching them and wish them luck.
Scott (right) being congratulated on his achievement by MYC commodore Bob Sugrue