Milo wins Junior Gold Cup in Hamilton, Bermuda, October 12th 2013
Milo is 13 years old and in Class 8 at Ringwood Waldorf School, he learnt to sail at Spinnaker Sailing Club, Ringwood. Read on to update on his latest sailing achievement.
Milo Gill-Taylor, as winner of the GBR Optimist Selection Trials and British National Champion, was invited by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club to take part in the Junior Gold Cup. Every year they invite the top sailors from around the world to compete in this Optimist event with local Bermuda sailors, which runs alongside the adult Argo Gold Cup, a Match racing event. This year Milo was also asked to coach at a clinic for disadvantaged Bermudan sailors. What he didn’t know was that not only was this clinic to be run by Sir Ben Ainslie and Ian Percy in aid of the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation, but also that he would be staying with the same Bermudan family as them and their team!
This is what Milo says:
“When we arrived in Bermuda, Ben Nicholls, whose house we were staying at, came to get us from the airport. As we came out of the airport he said there was someone else in the car but it was just a reporter who was staying with us too and he was a bit strange. Then Ben Ainslie stepped out of the car! Ben Nicholls was laughing his head off and I was just stunned. I was pretty quiet and a bit shy on the whole car journey. Ben Ainslie is a really, really nice guy though and he was asking us lots of questions about us it was incredible. I got more out of the whole trip than I ever thought I would.
Winning the event was amazing but staying in the same team house as Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy and their team was beyond anything I could have imagined.
I have seen them before but I’ve never been in the situation where they know who I am. But their whole team were amazing; they let us help them rig and de-rig their boat and were always happy to give us advice. Although I think they watched their language a bit more when we were around!
Some of their best advice came before the last race of the event.
We were racing in the harbour where they had just done their semi-final of the Bermuda Gold Cup. It was very shifty and I think they wanted a Brit to win the Junior Gold Cup! They told me what to expect, which side was favouring and what the wind was doing. When Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy tell you things like this you listen!
I was 10 points behind the Australian sailor Max Quirk going into the last day, and I think a lot of people thought I couldn’t do it, but I never give up.
At the 2011 Oppie Nationals I overturned a 20-point lead to win and I’ve always remembered that. If you sail your best race, someone else can always mess up and let you back in. You have to always just keep believing that you can do it.
This wasn’t the most pressure I’ve sailed under but it was quite a bit. In the pre-start Max was following me closely and at the first windward mark he was 13th but I was seventh and I knew that wasn’t enough of a lead to win.
I didn’t know it was definitely in the bag until the last run. I could see he was a long way back and as long as I didn’t do anything stupid and he stayed where he was I would win. I finished fourth, Max finished 37th. I was the Junior Gold Cup champion!
It was an amazing feeling to win it. Sometimes when you win it is a relief if you have been winning the whole event but this was something different as not many people expected me to be able to do it and I did. This event is like the Optimist Olympics so the excitement when I crossed the line was incredible!
Bermuda’s one of the nicest places I’ve sailed. It’s really, really hot, although a bit too hot for me when I’m not sailing, and the water’s warm. We got to explore the island too but the Pink Beaches aren’t pink! It’s just pink grains in the sand!
We’re already talking about what I might do next as I’m getting quite big, but I think I will definitely have another year in the Optimist. It’s one of the most competitive classes in the world so I want to have that level of racing for as long as possible before I move on to my next class, which will probably be a Laser.
There is still a lot of racing to be done this winter though with the Winter Championships and events in Vigo, Palma, Palamos and Garda, and possibly a training clinic in Lanzarote. The season doesn’t really stop I just go abroad to sail, and there is nothing like racing to stay sharp.”
Well done Milo!