BANGOR sailor Dan Whiteley has been named the RYA Cymru Wales Youth Champion as he embarks on a pathway to Olympic success.
The teenager joined the RYA Podium Potential Pathway squad in the Laser boat, the class in which Ben Ainslie won his first Olympic gold medal, based in Weymouth, preparing for his first senior international event in Spain at the end of this month.
He said: “It's my last year as a junior and I am stepping up to senior level, so it is nice to get the recognition as the RYA Cymru Wales Youth Champion before I am too old.
“Having been one of the best in the world at youth level I am getting used to being a nobody at senior level, no-one has any expectations of me at the moment and it will be good to go in with no pressure.
“I have moved up to the men's class of Laser Standard and also moved to Weymouth to pursue Olympic hopes and go sailing full-time.
“I have been here six months now training pretty hard. The boat is technically similar to the Laser Radial at youth level, but the sails are bigger and so there is a lot more power, I need to be heavier so the physical fitness is a big factor.”
Whiteley is taking a year off after finishing A-levels before planning to go to university to do mechanical engineering, choosing somewhere in the South of England to continue with his sailing in parallel.
“It will be hard work doing both, there will be sacrifices, but it is achievable and most of the Olympic sailors have been to university,” he said.