TASS Rookie Goes With The Flo

Florence Brellisford cemented her reputation as one of British sailing’s ones to watch with a convincing win alongside helm Emily Mueller at December’s Youth World Championships in Oman. We caught up with the talented  18-year-old who joined TASS last autumn.

TASS: Can you give us an overview of your sailing journey so far?

Florence Brellisford: I started sailing when I was around seven years old. My dad sailed and we had a family boat so it was always something I was around from an early age. Growing up I spent Saturday mornings at the local sailing club in Burnham and then I spent the summer weeks at Essex Yacht Club. I started to train with the national squad and joined the development team where I met my helm, Emily. We started sailing in the 29ers when we were 15 and last month we came out on top together at the Youth World Championships.

TASS: What do you love about sailing?

FB: I just love being outside and when I was younger there was something really special about finishing school on a Friday and knowing that the next morning I’d be in a boat and out sailing. All of my friends are from the sailing community and the social side of the sport is fantastic. I love the team aspect of the 29ers and being part of the youth nationals each summer have been some of the best weeks of my life. Sailing is and always has been a big part of my family life and my sister sails too. Emily and her family have been good friends for years and that makes things even more special.

TASS: What are the biggest challenges you face as a sailor?

FB: It’s been difficult balancing school with my sailing commitments over the years and I find it even more difficult to manage my time now that I’ve started university in Bristol. I feel like most people can relax at weekends but I’m busier than ever! I do feel as if I’ve missed out on a lot of socialising in my first term and I’d like to do more sailing with the university club. On the flipside sailing is a great way to relax when you’re in the middle of revising for exams and that has helped. I think all sailors would say that wind and rough weather is an ongoing challenge! Emily and I are a small crew and so we do get thrown around a bit when we’re on the water. There aren’t many girls’ teams that are massive but I do feel as if we’re quite a bit lighter than average! We’ve been the smallest in the fleet for a few years now and you’re always told that ‘heavy wins’. We’re here to buck the trend.

TASS: How have you managed your time as an elite sailor and a first year Geophysics student?

FB: My tutors are aware of what I do outside of class and although I don’t think they’re too keen on me missing time at university the department is very supportive overall. Fortunately, I haven’t missed so much work that I can’t catch up and the university is always looking at what can be put in place to help me.

TASS: How do you benefit from TASS support?

FB: I joined TASS in September…at a time when I was really busy focusing on the build up to the Youth World Championships at the end of the year! So I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface in terms of what support I could be accessing. The contact I’ve had with TASS practitioners so far has been really positive and putting together a fitness plan is the priority. I’m well aware of the support that’s there if I need it. One of the positives of being in Oman was mixing with so many sailors who have been supported by TASS for a lot longer than I have. They were able to tell me how they’d maximised the support on offer and what I should be looking to do in the future.

TASS: Can you describe the Youth World Championships experience?

FB: Due to the pandemic I’d only sailed in one international event prior to Oman. The place itself was so good — the people over there were so helpful and the event ran very smoothly. I loved the whole experience on and off the water. There were 18 British sailors and it was nice to be able to spend time together in a big group after so many months isolated and apart. It’s a great group to be a part of.

TASS: You and Emily won with room to spare…so everything went to plan?

FB: There were light winds and nothing broke on the boat so that was a great start! We also shared our boat with the boys’ 29ers crew so they were able to help us ensure everything was ready each day. I don’t think we could have had a better competition.

TASS: What are your targets for 2022?

FB: I just want to engage more with university sailing as I feel as if I haven’t done enough of that so far. I also want to try my hand at 49ers this year and put myself in the right position to make the step up from junior to senior sailing. The 49er is an Olympic boat so that has to be the aim. But before the summer I want to experience more of university life and spend some time being a student!

Photo Credit for listing image: Mark Lloyd @Lloydimages