Jack Graham-Troll, 12-year-old Laser 4.7 sailor, with an ambition to become an Olympic gold medalist, and the latest addition to #HammondCrew. We recently caught up with Jack to find out more his sailing plans, why he chooses to wear a drysuit and what he never leaves the shore without.
For those reading this who don’t sail, are you able to explain the Laser 4.7 and how it is helping you on your Olympic dream path?
The Laser comes with three different sized rigs/sails. The 4.7 is the smallest and is for Juniors, the Radial is the middle size for youths and women, the standard is the largest for men. In the Olympics, men sail a Laser Standard and women sail a Laser Radial. The Laser 4.7 is for Juniors to start and develop in the class.
Many people get into sailing through family members and have a long time to reach a level where they are on the open circuit. Your journey has been a different one, tell us more?
I had my first taste of sailing in April 2015 at Banbury sailing club at the age of nine, in just two years, I was placed first in the Thames Valley Laser 4.7 Grand Prix series and won the Endeavour prize at the Laser National Inland championships. However, this has been my first full season of Laser sailing and what I am most proud of is that I have competed in the UKLA National Ladder series and completed every Laser training session in extreme weather conditions throughout the winter, and really enjoyed it! But I couldn’t have done it without my drysuit.
My ultimate ambition is to sail in the Olympics and win gold! But at just 12 years old I still have 4 years in the Laser 4.7 class before moving up into the Radial class. So, my short-term ambitions are to sail for Great Britain in the Laser 4.7 European and World championships.
When did you first wear a drysuit?
I was new to sailing and excited about my visit to the 2015 Dinghy show. At the Dinghy Show I met Hammond Drysuits who were really friendly and helpful with all their advice. I was measured up for my first drysuit there and then.
We see lots of photos of you out all year round in your drysuit from Hammond. Why do you choose to wear a drysuit from Hammond over the alternatives (other makes of drysuits and wetsuits) available?
Sailing is a very physical sport and weather conditions at times are extreme. As with all sports when competing at higher levels it is essential to have the best kit. Drysuits keep you dry in the water, but quality always outperforms the rest. You can’t get a better drysuit than a Hammond dry suit, handmade and crafted specifically for you.
I have tried some off the peg drysuits but no matter which size I tried, I felt restricted or swamped. My made-to-measure Hammond drysuit fits me perfectly and is flexible allowing me to move and be agile in my boat. Made-to-measure means that I can request certain features that are important to me and can enhance my sailing technique. Such as a simple design perfectly shaped to allow movement, without bulky pockets and zips to catch on the rigging.
It was also very important to me when choosing a drysuit, to know that as I continue to grow, it can be altered and repaired if needed, making it a very sensible and cost-effective investment, and I look good wearing it too!
You sail 12 months a year, talk us through your layering at the different times of the year and why it’s so important to get it right?
When launching my boat, I must go into the water and get wet, then I’m cold and wet for the rest of the day. If I’m shivering and using my energy to keep warm, if I have cold hands or numb toes, or if I’m too hot and steamy, my ability to function and make sound decisions will suffer. Wet skin gets cold faster than dry skin and layering helps keep my skin dry, insulates me from the cold and enables me to remove layers in warmer weather.
I wear a wicking layer first which draws the moisture away and keeps me warm and dry, which is an important part of staying comfortable. I then add a number of thermal layers depending on the weather conditions. In the winter when it’s below freezing and I’m out on the water all day racing or training, I add two or three thermal layers bottoms and tops, thermal socks, glove liners and a hat too. If you lose the feeling in your feet and hands, you lose concentration and can’t perform to your full potential. You find the feeling of cold takes over your thoughts and once you’re cold and wet you can’t warm up. In the summer I can remove layers to stay comfortable and cool.
A Laser dinghy needs to be kept as flat and upright as possible in the water to sail it fast up wind. As the wind increases, the boat leans over and I move my body out over the side with my feet under a strap, which is called ‘hiking out’. To help improve my physical strength and reduce the pain of hiking out, I wear 3/4 length hikers with battened thigh pads built in. They protect my legs from the side of the boat, support my weight and allow me to hike out more effectively for longer.
My drysuit is my weather protection layer. It is the outside layer that keeps the water and cold air out, preserving my temperature on the inside. It keeps me dry, warm and alert, however hostile the outside environment and enables me to layer up underneath, meaning I’m always comfortable and out on the water for longer concentrating on sailing and not getting cold!
What does the 2018 season hold for you?
2018 will be my first full season competing in the Laser 4.7 National Ladder series and being one of the youngest in the fleet it has been my intention to establish myself as a serious competitor. This season I am concentrating on improving my skills through maximising training opportunities and putting the skills learned into practise whilst competing in the Thames Valley Laser Grand Prix and Laser 4.7 National Ladder series. This is all in preparation for the 2019 Laser 4.7 European championships next April.
Name an item you never leave the shore without and why?
My Hammond dry bag to keep my lunch dry, as there’s nothing worse than a soggy sandwich!
Best of luck for the 2018 season and beyond Jack from everyone at Hammond. We look forward to following your progress and to hearing how you get on with your new drysuit and dry smock.