Guest Blog: Ed Higson- My 2017

As 2017 draws to a close I’m going to give you an update on what I’ve been up to this year, sailing, and my life. I’m also going to address my sailing plan for 2018 and some of my goals for the future.

I would like to start off by saying thank you to all my sponsors, friends, family for enabling me to carry on my competitive sailing, without your support I would not be able to travel to all these events and match up against the very best sailors in the World.

My 2017 started off in a ski resort in Italy ‘Livigno’ where I took 4 months out to become a ski rep and spent 9 hours skiing everyday guiding and teaching. It was a great experience and probably one of the only appropriate times in my life I would be able to ski for such a long time and get paid to do it! I would recommend anyone to go and do a season just to experience the lifestyle and freedom, learning a new language was a real challenge but it was overall an incredibly rewarding and fun experience.

I returned to the UK in early February raring to get back in the boat, I attended the Laser European and World Qualifier in Weymouth and then Stokes Bay in March, I was then selected to compete as part of the team to compete internationally in the Summer.

A few weeks later I attended the RYA Youth Nationals in Hayling Island which I knew was going to be a tough event but I had put the hours on the water and in the gym so I felt confident. The conditions were tough with very little wind and heavy current. I started the event well on the first day securing a 7th and a 9th putting me comfortably in the top 10 overall, I had a very consistent event and as the breeze increased throughout I started to secure podium finishes and climb my way up the leader board, in all I had a very successful event.

I was then asked in August if I would become an ambassador for the Andrew Simpson foundation to which I agreed and headed down to Cowes week to compete on Sunsail40s’. This was my first time Yacht racing and I would be the navigator/tactician on board, it was a great experience and we came out with a great result. Sailing with large amounts of people really bought a new perspective to my sailing, I felt everyone I was with was incredibly talented and got on with their own roles to help succeed, I very much enjoyed and learnt a lot from the whole experience.

The following week I attended the first ever Aero Youth Nationals which was going to be a two-day event, I had never sailed an Aero before however I had only heard great things about the class, my friend offered me a boat and I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve always been told to do any sailing that gets offered to you as you can pick up one thing from one class of boat and then adapt it to another. Jumping in the aero was a really great transition, RS have done a really great job on the boat and it wasn’t too dissimilar from the Laser. I started off the event strong and after the first day I was winning overall. The second day I continued to excel but unfortunately sailed the wrong course in the last race and lost my Gold position to finish in Silver overall, I’m still incredibly pleased with my result and I will definitely be back next year to claim the title!

Following on from the Aero nationals I was invited to join one of the best youth match racing teams in the World, early September we took part in the UK Match Racing Nationals Championships in Weymouth which saw us win every race and we took the win overall becoming UK National Champions!

Match racing is a very new style of racing to me, for a start they are in keel boats, reqire 3+ people, boat on boat so only two boats in the race, very short and intense racing.

My match racing really started to blow up from this point and I was being invited out to events all over the world, Australia, USA and all over Europe. Soon after therefore I travelled out to Antibes on the French Riviera to compete for GB and then to Trieste, Italy, on return to the UK I was intvited tot eh British Keelboat Final Championships where I podiumed. My results really started to improve and it was evident as we entered the top 100 match racing teams in the World, we recently beat the World number 2 Ian Walker!

My sailing throughout 2017 has been a lot more varied than usual and I’ve taken every opportunity to jump in a boat and it’s been great, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my sailing this season and every time I’ve hit the water I’ve learnt something new. A recent opportunity that arose was an invite to join the SuperFoiler series in Australia which is the new F1 on water and I’ve still awaiting dates to be invited for a selection in the new year.

Back to Laser sailing then, I’ve competed in 7 grand prix events of which I won 4 events overall and podiumed at all 7. The Olympic Standard rig is still very much my main class and I’m going to address a couple of goals and my sailing in the future.

For 2018 it’s time to really make commitments to an Olympic campaign, although I will continue to match race I will be taking a step back and focusing on just my Olympic Laser Sailing, the plan for next year is to compete at the World and European qualifiers, Aarhus, Denmark, for the Laser Worlds and La Rochelle, France, for the Laser Europeans: but I will need help from generous sponsors in order to get me to all these events.

Blogs will be posted on a monthly basis from now on. Merry Christmas and have a happy new year!  Ed.

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