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Fillah Karim

A gold medal at the 2020 Olympics. Today, this is the goal that Fillah is working towards.


Fillah is a very interesting and inspiring young member. He joined our club in 2010 and cut his teeth in our junior program. In a choice between soccer, volleyball, and sailing, sailing won out and he has made significant progress with his sailing passion since then. Now, 17 years old and writing final exams in grade 12, Fillah has set a goal of winning a medal in the Laser class at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

About two years back, Fillah moved his local sailing activity to RVYC because of the advanced training opportunity offered there however his heart is still with WVYC where he got hooked on sailing and was inspired by our excellent junior program and coaching staff. This past year, he has split his time between home here in West Vancouver, and Sail Canada’s two main training bases; Toronto, Ontario and Clearwater, Florida. He is one of four youth athletes handpicked by Sail Canada to train with the senior national team as part of a new program targeted at getting Canadian youth sailors on the ISAF Youth Worlds podium. Fillah’s program takes a wholesome approach to the sport, focusing on all of the aspects that are necessary to perform at the highest level. In addition to his training on water, he also spends a substantial amount of time focused on the physical and psychological skills to round out his comprehensive preparations for the challenges ahead. His average training day consists of a training session in the gym, a training session on the water and a visualization session to end the day.

This summer will be important for Fillah. His training will be demanding and the competition will be intense. He has a website where we can follow his progress. Check out www.karimlasersailing.com. He will also be including a short article in the weekly email blast many members receive from the Club - these articles can be found below! I encourage you to follow his campaign this summer as he begins his journey to the 2020 Olympics. What a thrill it would be to have a West Vancouver Yacht Club Member on the podium.

Best of luck to Fillah, regards to all and let’s enjoy a great summer on the water.

Updated: June 19, 2015


  • The New Program
    • THE NEW PROGRAM.

      Monday, November 09, 2015



      I have now been training here in Sydney for two and a half weeks. Things are going really well. Over the course of my sailing career so far, I have moved through a lot of different coaches and programs. Although I feel that each one played a vital role in my development, this is the first time in a long time that I feel really confident in saying that I am where I need to be to maximize my potential. My new coach, Brett Beyer, is fantastic. In addition to his wealth of knowledge and experience, he does a really good job of breaking down whatever we are working on into small and manageable pieces so that I know exactly what I need to be focusing on at any given time. In addition, the other sailor who I am training with at the moment is a really good sailor, and, equally important, a good person. I feel that training with someone who is currently a better sailor than me has been beneficial because I have to work super hard just to be able to keep up with him! All of this has come together to create a really productive training environment for me and I feel like I have improved more over the last two and a half weeks than I have in a long time.

      Going forward, I have another 3 weeks of training based in Sydney before I had to Melbourne for the World Cup event.

      Thanks for reading!

      Fillah
  • I'm officially training full time
    • I'm officially training full time.

      Monday, June 30, 2015



      Last Friday, I wrote my last highschool exam, officially marking the beginning of my full-time sailing campaign. Unfortunately, this exam also happened to be on the same day as day one of the Laser Pacific Coast Championships being held at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. Although I was disappointed that I would miss the first day of the regatta, it would have taken a lot more than that to diminish my excitement for the road ahead.

      The second day of the Pacific Coast Championship (My first day) was a bit of an anticlimax. I came out and made a series of mistakes that I have spent the last 8 months working with my coaches to train myself not to do. There are very few things that are more frustrating than doing the exact opposite from what I have trained, realizing that I made a mistake- and then doing the exact same thing in the next race. After the racing, I took some time, and wrote down all of the things that I had done incorrectly that day. Then, I spend some time visualizing myself doing these same things, except, doing them right. Whatever I did must have worked. The next day, I successfully executed my training and won all three races by a comfortable margin. I ended up finishing the regatta in 15th, which isn’t all that bad, considering that I missed four of the ten races. Congratulations to fellow WVYC member and NSST coach Graham Harney for the regatta win!

      The morning after the Pacific Coast Championship, I flew out to Toronto, where I am now, to begin a three-week training block. For the first two weeks of this training block, we are training in Toronto harbour with the focus on learning the trends of the venue. Although I am not personally competing at this venue, we are training here to help one of my training partners prepare for the Pan American games that will be held here in Toronto. Toronto harbour is one of the most complex venues that I have sailed in, making it more difficult to learn, but also that much more rewarding when you start to spot the trends. To put it into perspective, it makes sailing back home at the WVYC seem simple! It’s been interesting to see how much thought the top sailors put into understanding all of the intricacies of a venue and I have learned lots of skills that I will be able to apply when I am preparing for my peak event, the Canadian Youth Nationals held in Kingston in August.

      This weekend, I am competing in the Laser Great Lakes Championships. All of the wind forecasts that I have seen are calling for over 25 Knots, so this is shaping up to be an epic regatta! Check back next week to find out how it went!

      Thanks for reading and until next week,

      Fillah Karim
      website: www.karimlasersailing.com
      facebook: www.facebook.com/karimlasersailing
  • Great Lakes Champs
    • Great Lake Champs.

      Monday, July 6, 2015



      Last weekend, I competed in the Great Lakes Championship held at the Ashbridge’s Bay Yacht Club. There was a storm passing through over the weekend meaning that there was tons of rain and a full range of wind conditions – it felt just like Vancouver! I ended up finishing the regatta in 2nd place behind my training partner, Brenda Bowskill who is representing Canada at the Pan Am games next week.

      Over the course of the regatta, I identified a pretty significant weakness of mine, which is getting the boat going fast in choppy waves. It’s funny how much my perspective on something like this has changed, compared to, say, a year ago. Before, the learning curve was so steep that whenever I identified a weakness, it was just one more thing that I had to learn before I could get good. Now, whenever I find something that I’m bad at, I get excited because I see it as an opportunity to make a big improvement to my overall sailing abilities. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got a huge amount to learn and still have a significant amount of improvements that I need to make before I can achieve my goals. These improvements, however, are a lot smaller and take a lot more time than before, so it’s always exciting when there is an opportunity to make a bigger gain in less time.

      Since the regatta, we have been back training at the Pan Am venue to help Brenda get as familiar as possible with the trends of this location. It has been really useful for me as I have gotten lots of opportunities to work on my upwind boat speed. I’ve also had some really informative discussions on the subject, both with Brenda about what she is focusing on to go fast upwind as well as with my coach Chris Cook. Next week will be my last week of training here in Toronto before I head down to New Jersey for the US Nationals.

      Thanks for reading and until next week,

      Fillah Karim
      website: www.karimlasersailing.com
      facebook: www.facebook.com/karimlasersailing
  • Monday, July 13th
    • Monday, July 13th.




       This past week has been a very good one for me. I made a couple of breakthroughs in some areas that haven’t seen too many improvements in a while. It feels really good to see the individual skills that we have been working on coming together. As I mentioned in my previous update, we have been training out of the Pan Am games venue, as one of my training partners will be participating as a competitor. Just being in this environment has been a cool experience. We also got a chance to link up with some of the other Pan Am competitors for some practice races. It was a great opportunity to sail with some top sailors. Even more, it was a good reminder that when you are racing, the reputation or past accomplishments of your competitors is irrelevant. If you go out and sail fast and make good tactical and strategic decisions, nobody is unbeatable.
      Today was our last day of training in the Toronto harbour because the whole area will be closed off with the Pan Am games starting tomorrow. Over the next five days, I will get a chance to do some sailing on my own to touch up on my boathandling, do some equipment maintenance and hopefully watch some of the racing! On Wednesday, I will be heading down to New Jersey for the US Nationals.

      Thanks for reading and until next week,

      Fillah Karim
      website: www.karimlasersailing.com
      facebook: www.facebook.com/karimlasersailing
  • Feeling ready for the US nationals
    • feeling ready for the us nationals.

      Monday, July 20, 2015



      This week has been all over the place for me. Monday and Tuesday were spent doing boatwork in Toronto, Wednesday and Thursday were spent visiting my extended family in Kitchner and London, on Friday I drove down to New Jersey and today, Saturday, I finally got to go sailing.

      Ever since last year at the Canadian Youth Nationals, where a tiny oversight on my part resulted in an equipment failure, ending any chances that I had of winning the regatta, keeping my equipment in perfect condition has been a very high priority. Sometimes this means that I have to forsake a couple of days of training to maintain my equipment. I hate missing opportunities to train but looking at the big picture, the potential losses from even a small equipment failure are so massive that a couple of training days seems like an acceptable price to pay to minimize those risks.

      Over the course of the week, I have also been following our Canadian team competing at the Pan American games. It has been incredible to see so many extraordinary Canadian athletes accomplishing such great results in so many different sports. It has left me energized, inspired and driven to achieve some results of my own.

      I am currently in New Jersey preparing for the U.S. Nationals that begin on Tuesday. Check back next week to find out how it went or take a look at my Facebook page for updates: www.facebook.com/karimlasersailing.

      Thanks for reading and until next week,

      Fillah Karim
      website: www.karimlasersailing.com
      facebook: www.facebook.com/karimlasersailing
  • US Nationals Recap
    • US Nationals recap.

      Monday, July 27, 2015



      Last week, I competed in the Laser U.S. Nationals at the Brant Beach Yacht Club in New Jersey. Although I finished 16th out of the 135 competitors, a much worse result than I believe that I am capable of, the regatta was still a success.

      This regatta was targeted as a sort of “lead-up” event; an opportunity for me to build confidence, as well as identify any final areas that I need to work on before my peak event of the year, the Canadian Youth Nationals (I have to be the top Canadian at the youth nationals to qualify to represent Canada at the ISAF Youth Worlds). Over the last year, with the help of my coaches, we have completely invigorated the way that I sail the boat and totally restructured the way that I make tactical and strategic decisions on the racecourse. Until now, I had yet to execute all of these new skills at the same time and get good results in a big, competitive fleet. On the first day of the regatta, I went out and executed the things that I have been trained to do and it was amazing. After the first five races, I was in second place in the overall standings. Unfortunately, after this, I relapsed into the way that I used to sail. I had some bad starts, took some unnecessary risk and allowed my emotions to influence my decision-making. Nonetheless, on that first day, I sailed at a level that I have never sailed before and that was really exciting to see. Arguably, one of the most important attributes that you can have when it comes down to performing under pressure is confidence. Coming out of this regatta, there is zero doubt in my mind that if I execute the things that I have been trained to do, I will be successful. This newfound confidence is why I consider this regatta a success.

      Now, I am in Kingston, Ontario, the venue where the Canadian Youth Nationals will be held to put in some final training and venue preparations. Stay tuned for updates over the next few weeks. You can also follow my campaign on my website: www.karimlasersailing.com and my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/karimlasersailing.

      Thanks for reading and until next week,

      Fillah
  • A good change
    • a good change.

      Monday, August 3, 2015



      This week, I have been training in Kingston preparing for the Canadian Youth Nationals that begin August 10th (a week from Monday). This year will be my fifth and final time competing at the Youth Nationals, as I will be aging out. For the last 5 years, this regatta has been my peak event: the event where all of my hard work over the year is supposed to come together and result in a winning performance. The last four times, I failed. It is quite interesting to see something completely different in my mental state than what I have experienced in previous years. In the past, around this time, I would be quite nervous. Fear of failure would have been the most prominent emotion that I was experiencing. In addition, there was always a need to squeeze in as much last minute training as possible because I felt like I needed to do more to have a shot at being successful. This year, things are completely different. I feel comfortable, confident and excited. This must be what being prepared feels like. I understand that this is not the time to build skills. That’s what the last eleven and a half months have been about. Now, my focus is just on maintaining the skills that I do have and tapering off my training so that when the regatta comes around, I am in the best place both physically and mentally to execute what I have been trained to execute. I can’t predict the future. I can’t tell you that I will be succesful or that I won’t. What I can say is that I feel really good and that I feel prepared.

      Stay tuned for updates!

      Thanks for reading and until next week.

      Fillah

  • All set to go
    • all set to go.

      Monday, August 10, 2015


      The view of the venue in the morning before the thermal wind starts to build.


      This week has been all about maintenance: maintaining my physical strength, maintaining my technical skills and maintaining my mental state of mind all while ensuring that I am not tiring myself out. What this basically meant is all week I have been doing very short high intensity sessions on the water and in the gym with lots of time left in the day to focus on active recovery. By keeping the sessions short but intense, I get to practice sailing the way that I will sail during the regatta, but I’m not tiring myself out. At this point, I honestly don’t have a ton of new stuff to write about from last week. I feel prepared. Now, it will come down to my ability to perform and execute what I have trained in a high-pressure situation. The regatta will held over four days starting on Monday. If you are interested in following my progress I will be posting updates on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/karimlasersailing and results will be posted at http://www.cork.org/2015-results/.

      Fillah

  • I lost
    • i lost.

      Monday, August 17, 2015



      The great thing about sports is that if you don’t perform when it matters, you won’t win. I guess that’s true for most things in life. This week, I competed at the Canadian youth Nationals in Kingston, Ontario. This was my peak event of the year, as well as my opportunity to qualify for the ISAF Youth Worlds. Unfortunately, I didn’t perform, and I didn’t win. Actually, I did a lot worse than not winning; I didn’t even make the gold fleet. (For those of you unfamiliar with sailing, the first two days of the regatta are “qualifying” and the second two days are “finals.” For the finals, the fleet in divided into gold, silver, and bronze fleets based on the results from the qualifying days. Once this split is made, you can’t move between different fleets. This means that once I was in silver fleet, the best overall result I could get was 58th.)

      I started the regatta off badly with a starting mistake in race 1 that I was not able to recover from. Then, in race 2, I was a little excited, pulled the trigger a little too early and was disqualified for starting early. Fortunately, and this is one of the biggest positives coming out of this regatta, I was able to overcome the stress and frustrations from my early mistakes and have two good races. Unfortunately, it was not enough to get me into the gold fleet.

      It’s really important for me to take responsibility for my mistakes. It wasn’t bad luck. Nobody else is to blame. I didn’t execute the things that I needed to execute and I paid the price. This is something that I love about competitive sports. When you’re out on the water, everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed or fail. It doesn’t matter if you are “expected to win” or if you are a “favourite.” If you don’t perform when it matters, you won’t win.

      Obviously, I wanted to win. Obviously, I’m disappointed that I didn’t – that goes without saying. What I can say, is that I am really excited for what is ahead, and I can’t wait for my next opportunity to correct my mistakes and prove to myself and everyone else what I’m capable of. Usually, after a peak event like this, that opportunity would be months in the future. In this case, it’s soon. Really soon. Actually, it’s tomorrow. The Laser Class Radial Youth Worlds start tomorrow (Saturday) here in Kingston and I’m super excited to have this opportunity to go out and try to perform.

      Before I end this update, there are just two more things that I need to say. First, I want to recognize my training partner and competitor Matti Muru for the awesome regatta that he sailed this week. He earned that spot on the ISAF Youth Worlds team and I’m sure he will do a great job representing Canada in Malaysia this December. Second, I just wanted to say that I really appreciate all the support that I’ve been getting from everyone as I’ve been going through this loss. It really means a lot.

      Thanks for reading and until next week,
      Fillah


  • Worlds
    • worlds.

      Monday, August 24, 2015



      This week, I competed in the Radial Youth (U19) World Championship in Kingston, Ontario. If you read my update from last week, you know that I was really hoping to get a strong result at this regatta to redeem myself after my brutal performance at the Canadian Youth Nationals. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen: I finished the regatta in 64th of the 142 competitors, far from the top ten finish that I was hoping for. Still, I learned too many new things and developed too much over the course of this competition for me to consider it anything less than a positive learning experience. This being my first world championship, it was also just an incredibly cool environment. I made friends with fellow sailors from all around the world- Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Great Britain and Belgium just to name a few. It’s crazy to think that all of these different people are just like me, pursuing the same Olympic dream. But there’s only one gold medal given out every four years. Knowing how good these other sailors are and how hard they are working just gives me that much more energy, drive, and determination to apply to my own training.

      I’m going to keep this update relatively short, because, honestly, my head needs a brake from sailing. I’m at the point that I don’t even have dreams when I’m sleeping anymore. My brain just continues to analyze my races. I’m no expert, but I would imagine that’s probably not healthy. I’m taking the next two weeks off to spend some time with my family and do things that don’t involve sailing before I get back into the training. This also gives me a chance to reflect on this past year as well as begin to plan what next year will look like as I transition into the Full Rig so that when I do get started I am focusing my energy in the right places

      Thanks for reading,
      Fillah

  • Back At It
    • back at it.

      Monday, September 14, 2015



      After the completion of the Youth Worlds, I took two weeks away from sailing to relax and recover. After all of the training and competing that I did over the summer, it was beneficial for me to have some time away from it all. As of a week ago, I am now back at it, training in Vancouver.

      I am now transitioning from the Laser Radial class (youth class and women’s Olympic class) into the Laser Full Rig class (men’s Olympic class.) There are still some significant questions to be answered and decisions to be made with regards to who I will be training with, where I will be training and who I will be coached by as I transition into the Full Rig class. I am working hard at answering these questions and making the right decisions in this regard. In the mean time, I am taking advantage of this transition period to focus on increasing my fitness and building my mental skills – the foundation upon which everything else is built. Over the past week, my typical day was a strength training session in the morning followed by a afternoon sailing session on the water and finally a conditioning session in the gym in the evening. Next week, I will not be sailing, just training in the gym. I will therefore be doing two or three sessions per day in the gym. In addition to the fitness training, there will be an increased emphasis on working on mental skills with my mental performance coach as well as continuing to work on planning for the season ahead.

      Thanks for reading and until next week,
      Fillah



  • The Off-Season
    • the off season.

      Monday, September 11, 2015



      The off-season is one of my favourite times of the year. Contrary to what you might deduce from the name, this is definitely not time off training! Instead, this is the time when you get to make the most improvements. During regatta season, you are typically fine-tuning the skills that you already have. The off-season is when I get to build those skills. Because I don’t have to worry about performing for an extended period of time, I get to brake down my weaknesses to their core and then build them up to new heights. In addition, key areas such as fitness and mental skills, which tend to fall into maintenance mode during regatta season, become top priorities, which frequently means some of the biggest progress of the year.

      During this time, I have also been working on putting together my training plan for the year. Now that the excitement and emotions from the summer have passed, I am able to truly objectively evaluate what I did right and what I did wrong this year and decide what needs to happen differently for the coming year. I feel like I am on track. I know what my next steps need to be. Now I am just working on figuring out the logistics, the specifics, the funding, and all of the other aspects that need to come together to make it happen.

      Thanks for reading and until next week,
      Fillah

  • I Want it Bad
    • I want it bad.

      Saturday, January 30, 2016

      Coming off the Sailing World Cup Miami, I have more energy than ever before. More determination, more drive, more willingness to do whatever it is going to take to get myself to the top level. None of these areas had a specific deficiency before, but, now more than ever, there is this burning fire inside of me; a passion, a desire to do more, to get better and to become the best. I finished the regatta in 77th of 98 competitors. The result itself is in the ballpark of what I came into the regatta expecting. This was most definitely the strongest fleet I have ever had the opportunity to compete in and I am still relatively early in my development. Still, regardless of how you look at it, I got beat by 76 people and I don’t like that. There are a couple of different influencers from this past week that have caused me to develop this newfound level of determination. Firstly, as I said above, I’m just tired of always loosing. Secondly, although I finished most of the races near the back, I wasn’t at the back for the whole race. In fact, I would say that in about half of the races, I was in the top 10 – 15 at the first mark rounding. I would then make a mistake at some point during the race and get passed by most of the fleet. It was such a tease. Time after time, I would find my way to the front group and then have to watch it slip away. It’s a pretty terrible feeling and not one that I want to have to keep on experiencing. Thirdly, I found out that Matt Wearn (currently ranked #2 in the world) is 20 years old. Although that may seem like a trivial piece of information, to me, it is actually quite meaningful. I have always said that my goal is to win a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics (when I would be 23). Most people believe that it would be impossible for me to get that good that quick. Sure, Matt Wearn may be more naturally talented than I am, but this shows that it IS possible.

      All of this being said, I would still consider the regatta a success because I learned a lot from the experience which is what I came here to do. Racing in a fleet of this calibre was specifically valuable because I got to see how the very best in the world do things. Probably the coolest thing to me was racing in the same fleet as Robert Scheidt. The man is a legend of laser sailing and even in his forty’s he is still one of the best in the world. One of the most valuable lessons that I learned from racing in the same fleet as Scheidt was to see that even somebody that is this incredible of a sailor still makes mistakes on the racecourse. I think one of the big things that differentiates Scheidt and the other top guys from everybody else is that they have an ability to recover from those mistakes. That is something that I need to learn how to do if I want to become the best.

      Up next for me is a really short 3 days at home before I fly down to Sydney to start my next training block. I’m super excited to get to work and to continue to progress

      Thanks for reading and to everyone for their support.

      Fillah

  • Sailing with the sharks
    • SAILING WITH THE SHARKS.

      Monday, February 15, 2016


       
      Today was the last day of training of an awesome training block in Port Stephens, Australia. Port Stephens is one of the nicest places I have ever trained at. The natural scenery is stunning and there is tons of wildlife living in these waters, which was very cool to see. We saw lots of dolphins and even a couple of hammerhead sharks! I’m not going to lie; I’m not super excited about the whole concept of sailing with sharks, but I guess that’s just a part of sailing in Australia. Nonetheless, whenever I did capsize and fall in, I was in quite a hurry to right the boat and get out of the water! (My Australian coach found this quite amusing)

      Anyways, this was a really great training block because I made some really meaningful breakthroughs with my upwind sailing in o shore conditions. Sailing in unsheltered waters is probably the most di cult condition to sail in due to all of the apparent wind speed and direction changes caused by the boat being pushed around by big ocean swell. I’ve always really struggled in these conditions, in part due to the fact that most of my sailing experience is in fairly protected places like Vancouver. It seems that I was able to put together a lot of the things that I learned from my last period of training in Sydney. Right from day one, I was sailing way better than I ever had and things continued to improve from there. Another huge positive from this training camp was that my coach, Brett was able to help me identify what needs to improve about my downwind sailing. A lot of my biggest losses at the Miami world cup regatta were a result of poor downwind speed, so I feel a lot better now that we know exactly what needs to be done and have a plan of how we are going to do it.

      Over the last few days, Brett has been racing in the Australian Masters (35 years and older) National championships. One of the really interesting things about working with Brett is that he is not only an incredibly good coach, but he is also an incredibly good laser sailor. It’s incredible that he can hop back into a Laser at any time and be this dominant against some of the most experienced masters sailors in the country: there is still one more day of racing left, but he is going into the final day having won all 8 of the races so far.

      Tomorrow, we are packing up and driving back down to Sydney where we will have a day o before we fly to Auckland to compete in the Sail Auckland regatta. I’m looking forward to testing out some of the things that we have been working on in a low pressure, but very competitive regatta.

      Thanks for reading!

  • A big step forward
    • A BIG STEP FORWARD.

      Monday, February 29, 2016



       
      I am writing this update from the Auckland airport where I will shortly be boarding a flight to Sydney. Yesterday was the last day of the Sail Auckland regatta (although we didn’t race yesterday due to a lack of wind) where I finished 11th overall, 1st under 21. This regatta represented a very big step in my progression because it was the first time that I have been able to put together good individual races in a competitive fleet. It is actually quite interesting to look at my progression from the regattas that I have done over the last three months. First, there was the Sailing World Cup in Melbourne where I was usually somewhere in the back half of the fleet in most races. Next, was the Sail Sydney regatta where I had some good moments in individual races, but was not able to put that together to actually have any mark roundings in the top group of the fleet. After Sail Sydney was the Sailing World Cup in Miami where I had a number of good mark roundings where I was in the top group of the fleet, but inevitably, most of the fleet would pass me over the course of the race and I would still cross the finish line in the back group. Finally, after Miami was the Sail Auckland regatta that just finished which was the first time that I have had good individual races on my score line. The next step will be to put together enough good races to actually do well in a competitive regatta. Admittedly, that is a big jump from where I am at currently, but that is the direction that things need to go. However, for now, I am happy that I can clearly see my improvements in the regattas that I have done and am looking forward to continuing that upward trend.

      Tomorrow, we will begin training in Sydney. This is going to be a very intense training block being only 10 days long and last training block before the European racing season begins. I think that the whole group feels that we have a lot of work to do in this period of time, similarly to cramming before an exam. Everyone will be coming out with maximum intensity and focus, which I think will contribute to a really productive training block. Looking forward to it!

      Thanks for reading,
      Fillah

  • On Track
    • on track.

      Monday, April 4, 2016


      Friday was the final day of the Trofeo Princess Sofia Regatta here in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. I finished the regatta in 104th of 152 competitors. Usually, it would be logical to think that finishing this deep would be concerning, however, in this case, I finished where I was expecting to. Early this year, I sat down with my coach, Brett, and we outlined all of the targets that I need to be hitting annually over the next 5 years leading into the 2020 Olympic games for me to be on track to medal at the games. One of those targets for this year (year 1, September 2015 – August 2016) is that I am finishing at approximately 70% of the fleet at well-attended ISAF events, which is exactly what I have done this week. Admittedly, I am always looking to beat these targets, and am hoping to do that at future events this year. Still, this is a result that I am content with… for now. It is my nature to be very impatient when it comes to expecting results and improvements as I pursue my goals. This is something I have found to be both a strength and a weakness of mine. It’s a strength because it pushes me to be constantly looking for ways to get better quicker; it’s a weakness because it is very difficult for me to accept the slow, long term improvements that is the reality in high performance sport. Having these targets in place has been incredibly valuable for me because it helps to keep my expectations in check instead of being constantly disappointed when I don’t achieve unrealistic goals, as has been the case for me in the past. But that is enough about results! Where this regatta has been truly valuable is with the things I have been able to learn from racing in a fleet of this quality, in a venue this challenging. In addition to having identified some areas that I will need to improve on over my next training block, there were two main areas where I actually saw substantial improvements over the five days of racing. The first one was fleet management. In a fleet like this, it is incredibly easy to get caught up with other boats and end up getting spat out the back in a matter of seconds. I have been working on thinking a few steps in advance, so that I have an idea of the moves that the other competitors will likely make and I already have a plan with how to react. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m definitely getting better at it. The second area is mental toughness. I broke through an important mental barrier on the third day of the regatta. In the first race of the day, I had made some critical mistakes resulting in a mediocre race. Going into the second race that day, I decided that I would simply my race strategy and just focus on hiking as hard as possible for as long as possible. I can say confidently that I have never physically exerted myself as hard as I did in that race. I think that this race will prove to have been a critical turning point in my heavy air sailing. Now that I know what it feels like to truly push myself to my physical limit, I can no longer allow anything less from myself.

      I now have a couple of days off in Palma to finish packing up boats and do some training on the road bike before we drive to Hyeres, France on Tuesday to begin the next training block.

      Thanks for reading!

      Fillah


  • Unexpected positives
    • unexpected positives.

      Sunday, May 15, 2016


      After racing in the Sailing World Cup Hyères at the end of April, I split ways with my coach, Brett, and my training partners, Stef and Colin, who were heading to Mexico to compete in the Laser World Championship. Because over the coming months their training will become more and more centered on preparing for the Olympic games, we decided that my best option would be to split from the program and use this time to get as much racing experience as possible before reconnecting with the group in early October, after the Olympic Games are over. Initially, I was understandably quite nervous about this. I mean, 5 months is a long time to go without having any coaching support or being a part of a structured training program. I would just be travelling around with a training partner and hitting off as many regattas as possible Now, having just completed the first of those regattas, I am getting comfortable with the way my program will be over the next five months, and actually think that this will be really positive in terms of my long term development. It is forcing me to think critically and even though I might make more mistakes on the racecourse than I would with my coach’s wisdom, having to make these mistakes and experience how drastic the consequences are is definitely a powerful (although often quite agonizing) way to learn what not to do in the future!

      The regatta that I just competed in this past week was the Garda Trentino Olympic week. Although the regatta didn’t have the fleet size or quality that it usually has given that the dates coincided with the world championships, there was still some good competition. Unfortunately, the conditions did not come through for us, and the race committee were only able to get off 5 of the 8 races scheduled. Even getting off five races in the conditions that we had was only made possible due to great race committee work. This regatta was an interesting one for me because although I would say that I sailed better here than I ever have in these conditions, I was very frustrated about the way that I sailed. I think that was largely due to the amount of potential that I created in each race and then couldn’t put together in the end. I did so much right, but then made so many rookie mistakes and was literally just giving away positions. In the end, even the fact that I created that potential is a sign of progress, because I couldn’t do that in the past. Now if I can start to eliminate some of these mistakes, I will start seeing some great results in the near future.

      Congratulations to Sergei, Nicolo, and Viktor who took home the medals at this regatta. All three managed to stay consistent despite tricky conditions, and consistency is key in this sport.

      Now I am in Medemblik in the Netherlands training for the Delta Lloyd regatta that will be held here in about a week’s time. This is the last regatta of my springtime European trip and I am hoping that I can put together everything that I have learned over the last three regattas to end this trip on a high note.

      Thanks for reading,
      Fillah
  • Heading Home
    • heading home.

      Monday, May 30, 2016


      I’m headed home! It’s been a very productive trip, with lots of great improvements made, but after having spent the last 3 months in Europe, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to being back in Vancouver. And for the first time since January, I’m going to be home for longer than 4 days!

      It’s interesting though. Usually, by the end of a long period away from home of training and racing, I’m pretty burned out and am looking forward to having some time off, away from training to rest and recover. This time though, my motivation is super high. All I want to do is to get back to training as soon as possible. I land in Vancouver Monday night, and, if I could, I would be back out in the boat the next day. (I can’t because I haven’t got all the parts I need for my boat in Vancouver yet, but getting that all together is top priority) Nonetheless, I will still be getting back into fitness training in the gym and on the bike right away.

      I think that my increased motivation to train can be attributed to a powerful balance of positive reinforcement and frustration. I have gotten enough positive reinforcement from seeing my results, and my sailing slowly, but surely improving over time to know that I am doing the right things in training, but not enough to get comfortable. On the other end, over these last few regattas, there has been a lot of frustration. This stems from the fact that I am now able to create a lot of potential in races, but I’m not able to finish it off to get the results that I want. I’m getting close to that point, but I’m not there yet. The frustration gives me the energy, the desire and the drive and the positive reinforcement gives me the confidence that I am doing the right things. I really think that these two components together will result in some great improvements over the coming months.

      Now that I will be back in Vancouver, I will be doing a bit of everything with a specific focus on fitness training. Lot’s of work in the boat, on the bike and in the gym. On top of that, I have also been given the opportunity to come out and run some training for our club’s youth race team. It will be a great opportunity to share some of the things that I have learned over my years of training with our youth sailors still in the early stages of their sailing careers. On top of that, it is a great chance for me to support the club, and they say that teaching is a great way to learn, so everyone wins!


      Thanks for reading,
      Fillah
  • U-21 Worlds
    • U-21 WORLDS.

      Monday, August 22, 2016

      Last week, I competed in the under-21 Laser Worlds, held in Kiel, Germany. After 5 days of racing (no racing on day 6 because of lack of wind), I finished the regatta in 35th of 144. My goal for the regatta was to be top 20, and I went into the last day in 20th, but I just couldn’t do anything right, and dropped 15 spots as a result. Initially, I was very frustrated about this, because top 20 was in my grasp and I just couldn’t put it together in the end. However, when I look at the big picture, I’m still really happy with the progress that this shows that I have made over the last year. One year ago, I competed at the Radial youth (U19) worlds, which is a lower level regatta and I finished in 64th. That’s still a long way to come in a year and I’m happy, not only that I have made that progress, but also that it shows in the results. Next year will be my last time competing in the under 21 category, and this time I will be coming to win it.

      It’s been a lot of fun racing in a U-21 regatta. Most of the year, I am sailing on the circuit against the top sailors in the world, and I’m not yet at the level that I’m at the front of those fleets. While those regattas have been very productive for me in a lot of ways, racing in a fleet such as this where I can be competitive in the top group is quite an enjoyable experience. Plus, I get to practice certain skills that I don’t otherwise get to work on.

      I’ll keep this update pretty short, but just figured I’d write something quite to update everyone on how things are going. After the worlds in Germany, we drove down to Croatia where the U21 Europeans will be held here, starting Monday. Stay tuned for updates on how this one goes!

      Thanks for reading!

      Fillah
  • It's All About Mindset
    • It's all about mindset.

      Monday, September 5, 2016

      Confidence - the simple answer to achieving success. Probably the biggest thing that I have learned from my last four months of training is that confidence and performance are concurrent; without one, you simply cannot have the other.

      Four months ago, I split ways with my coach. Not permanently, but just for a period of time as he would be working with my training partners to prepare specifically for the Olympics in Rio, and our priorities would not be aligned during this time period. So, since the beginning of May, right after the Hyères world cup regatta, I’ve been working on my own, without any coaching. Interestingly, the first regatta that I did immediately after that, the Garda Trentino Olympic Week was without a doubt my best performance over the last year. Why? Confidence. I came to that conclusion by comparing the factors that influenced my state of mind leading into this regatta with those leading into my most recent regatta – the U21 European Championships, which was without a doubt my worst performance from the last year.

      I remember that going into the regatta in Garda, I had high expectations in terms of the result that I would be able to achieve. This was partially due to the fact that I didn’t have any previous impressions of most of the competitors, so I assumed that I could beat them. I also distinctly remember that in my mind, everything was clear. My coach had left me with a very clear idea of the things that needed to focus on executing, and I had no doubt that these worked. I knew what I needed to do, I was confident that I was capable of doing those things and that caused a good result. Since the Garda regatta, my sailing performance, skills, and confidence have progressively spiralled downwards culminating in the performance that I had at the U21 Europeans this past week. It started with a couple of bad performances: I tried executing the same things that I had been doing but it wasn’t working. That led to doubt and diminishing confidence. Naturally, I tried doing things differently, but I just couldn’t get back on track. It was a progressive chain of events: bad performance = doubt/ lack of confidence = even worse performance. In the end, I was competing at the U21 Europeans and not only was I consistently at the back of the fleet, but I believed that I belonged there and that I wasn’t capable of doing better. The result? For the first time in my sailing career, I am looking back over the last period of time, and I have to acknowledge that I am a worse sailor today that I was 4 months ago. That’s tough… Even after my worst performances and biggest disappointments and failures in the past, there was always comfort in the fact that at least I knew that my sailing had improved.

      Still, despite the frustration that I feel now, I know that it’s not all negative. Although I may not be sailing better today than I was 4 months ago, I know that, even today, I am a substantially better sailor than I was a year ago. Plus, although my sailing skills may have gotten worse over the last 4 months, I know that because I have experienced this slump first hand, I am more likely to identify and prevent it from happening in the future. Also, I’m sure that the things that I have learned about mindset and the role of confidence in performing will help me to perform better and more consistently in the future as the results start to matter more and more.

      Now that the racing season is over, I’m heading home, where I will be for the month of September. My main focus for this month is to get both my weight and my fitness to a higher level so that I am prepared to handle what I am anticipating to be a very high on-water training load come October. In October, I will be heading down to Sydney to reconnect with my coach and really put in the hours on the water. I’m very confident that once I reconnect with my coach, we will be able to quickly fix the damage that I’ve done over the last four months, and get my sailing back on track and moving forwards again!

      Thanks for reading!
      Fillah

  • Time Out of The Boat
    • TIME OUT OF THE BOAT.

      Monday, October 10, 2016

      It’s been exactly 41 days since I last sailed a laser. That’s a record for me. When I came home from Europe at the end of August, I was pretty down on myself. I had had a really tough time over the last four months where it felt like I was moving backwards, my confidence was at an all time low, and I didn’t know how I was going to get myself back on track. For me, the hardest part was not having a clear plan. I felt like I had tried everything that I knew how to try on my own, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to reconnect with my coach until sometime in October. I decided to take this period of time and focus it solely on fitness and weight gain. I needed to feel like I was moving forward and doing something productive and this was a good way to do it. I also knew that once I did get back into on water training, it would be long and intense, so having a higher fitness level and a more competitive weight would both be big positives and help the next training block be as productive as possible. Over the last month, I’ve been in the gym 6 days per week, and successfully put on 8 pounds. I also think that having this time away from the boat has been good for me because it’s helped me gain some perspective on the last four months. Because my last few regattas hadn’t gone well for me, I had sort of grew the problem in my mind to make it seem like the last four months had been completely unproductive. While, there were without a doubt a number of bad moments, there were also some good ones, and I had minimized those. I’ve had the opportunity to isolate specifically where the issues were which has led me to realize (and by that I mean my sport psych led me to realize…) that the majority of my skills are just as good, or better than they were. There are still clearly some issues that need to be fixed, but I’m up for it and ready to get back to work.

      Right now, I’m about to board a flight to head down to Sydney, Australia to get back into the training routine with my coach. I’m really looking forward to it. I know it’s going to be really productive, really hard, and really fun. This is the start of what is going to be a big year for me…

      I don’t have any photos from the past month of gym training, so this is one from last year’s training in Sydney.

      Thanks for reading,
      Fillah

  • Back to Moving Forwards
    • back to moving forwards.

      Monday, October 17, 2016

      When I got down to Sydney a week ago, I was a bit nervous. I had a lot riding on this training block. I was very unhappy with the way that my training had gone over the last number of months that I had been working on my own, and so I had everything riding on the hope that when I reconnected with my coach, Brett, he would be able to work his magic, and get me back on track ASAP. To my great relief, that’s pretty much exactly how this first week of training has gone. Within the first 15 minutes of the first day of training, he was able to clearly identify the main things that I was doing wrong, and explain to me what I needed to do to fix it. Just like that, within the first day of training, I was already moving forward, and things were going in the right direction. This is why I value good coaching so highly, and why I am willing to go across the world to get it. (It’s also why coaching fees and expenses make up over half of my sailing expenses, and why despite a large amount of financial support from my family, I’m still $35,000 short of the funding that I need to cover the costs for this next year, but that’s another story…) Here is where it get’s interesting though. A lot of the things that I have been learning this week are things that I have already learned in the past, so effectively I am relearning certain skills that I already have some level of an understanding of. The result is very similar to when you read a book for the second time. When you read a book for the second time, because you already know the fundamental gist of what the book is saying, you will pick up on a lot of details that you missed the first time through. Making analogies was never a strength of mine (my last coach, Chris, was somewhat of a legend when it came to coming up with the right analogies for every situation, but that never really rubbed off on me), but basically, what I am saying is that I am not just relearning skills that I already had and getting back to where I was 5 months ago when I last worked with my coach, but I’m actually braking through old barriers and taking my skills to a whole new level. It’s like that saying “sometimes you have to take one step back to take two steps forward.” The last 5 months were my painfully long “one step back,” and now, I’m back to moving forwards!

      Thanks for reading,
      Fillah
  • 5.41%? – I'll take it!
    • 5.41%? - I'll Take it.

      Monday, November 21, 2016

      One of the big challenges that I have always struggled with about my sport is the inability to accurately, and objectively evaluate progress. The only ways that I have available to me to evaluate how well I am sailing are: the way that it feels, how I am sailing relative to other boats, coach’s feedback and race results. While all of these are useful, they give me neither a complete, nor an objective measurement of where I am at with my sailing.

      If you read my last update from about a month ago, you may remember that when I got to Sydney, things were going really well and I felt that I was making a huge amount of progress in a short period of time. As expected, after that initial jump subsided, I clicked back into the usual training routine with good days, and less good days, but still generally improving. One thing that I noticed, was that I was sometimes loosing focus, and not fully present and engaged in every training session. I wanted to find a way to maximise the productivity of my training, so I contacted my sport psychologist, Roger, to see if had any suggestions on tackling this issue. His first response was to ask me how we track and evaluate progress. When I explained that we really have no concrete method of doing that, he suggested (and I agreed) that that could be the root cause of my problem. Obviously, my goals are very big. As such, there was a disconnect between what can be accomplished in a day’s training and the overall goal that I am trying to accomplish. This would explain the disengagement or lack of focus at certain times, because I could not necessarily see the impact of whatever we were training, on the big picture.

      The solution? With the help of Brett (my coach) we broke down the sport of Laser Sailing into 7 categories (boat handling, starting, upwind, reaching, downwind, fitness, tactics), and 34 subcategories. We decided that we would get Brett to give me a percentage on where I was at in each of these areas on a weekly basis. We defined 100% as being the best in the world at that skill (as opposed to calling it perfection, since you can never attain perfection) and then subsequently defined each ten percent window so that the numbers meant something. While this is not entirely objective, as it is still being evaluated by a single person, it’s about as close as you can get in this sport, and has proven to be quite effective. For me, having a very clear picture of where I stand and being able to see the difference that my training has on the big picture has been very helpful, and allowed me to bring a higher level of motivation and focus into each day’s training, We started this exercise 2 weeks ago, and my average has climbed from 70.88% to 76.29% - an increase of 5.41! While this may seem like a small number to some, believe me, it’s pretty huge, and it feels great!

      I am now getting towards the end of this training block and starting to gear towards the upcoming regattas. I have a week and a half before the New South Wales State Championships, which will be a warm up regatta for me, followed by the World Cup Final in Melbourne, followed by the Sail Sydney regatta. Although I’m pretty excited to start racing, I know that I still have a lot of work to do in this next week and a half to set myself up for a good performance in the upcoming regattas. Specifically, my tactical skills are lagging well behind my technical ones, and I know that they will need to get up to scratch for me to perform well. It should be a good challenge. We are already starting to see improvements in the tactics, so I hope I will be able to continue that trend.

      Thanks for reading,
      Fillah
  • Sailing World Cup Final
    • sailing world cup final.

      Sunday, December 11, 2016



      Yesterday was the last day of fleet racing for the Sailing World Cup Final here in Melbourne, Australia. For me this regatta was both very exciting, and very frustrating. I have to keep reminding myself that progress is relative, and progress takes time. This regatta clearly represents some of the significant improvements that I have made over the last few months. When I think back to previous top level regattas that I have done, I have been at the back of the fleet from beginning to end of all the races, never really in the mix of the fleet. I would describe my sailing at that point as having significant weaknesses, and less significant weaknesses. No real strengths relative to the level of the fleet. There was a clear difference between that, and the way that I sailed here. This is the exciting part. There were a number of races where I was able to get well into the mix, and be competitive in this high quality fleet. I showed some strengths in my boat speed upwind in certain conditions as well as my upwind tactics. I was at par with the level of the fleet in certain areas, and I still have some massive weaknesses downwind and on reaches. This is the frustrating part. Despite doing some things well, my weaknesses are so significant that I still end up at the back of the fleet at the end of the race. It is definitely not enjoyable to put together a great upwind leg, and then have half the fleet sail past you before the next mark! Still this has very clearly identified where my losses are on the race course, and leaves a clear picture of what needs to be worked on going forwards.

      Tomorrow, I will head back to Sydney to race in the Sail Sydney regatta before going home. It is shaping up to be a strong fleet, and I am looking forwards to racing in my training grounds. It will also be a big help to have the support of my coach at this regatta. I was not able to have him with me here in Melbourne due to budgetary restrictions. It should be a great regatta, can’t wait!

      Thanks for reading!

  • What defines a champion?
    • What Defines a Champion?

      Monday, December 19, 2016



      What’s the difference between the person who wins, and everyone else? Given that my goal in this sport is to be THAT person at the Olympics, this is a question that I have spent a lot of time thinking about. I haven’t figured out the answer, I don’t know that there even is one answer, but I am starting to get an impression of one big piece of the puzzle. The Laser class is extremely competitive. If you look at these past Rio Olympics, there were 8 guys who could have won a medal, and nobody would have been all that surprised. If you go even further, I would say pretty comfortably that the top 30 guys in the laser fleet are at a very similar level as far as technique and tactics. Sure, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, but if there was a way to objectively evaluate the top 30 guys on all of the technical and tactical skills involved in racing a Laser, I think everyone’s total scores would be fairly similar. Yet, some people win, and others don’t. So, what’s the difference? In the end, not surprisingly, I’ve realized that more than any technical or tactical skill; it comes down to mindset. So, where is this all coming from? Well, these past few days, I competed in the Sail Sydney regatta. It was actually a great regatta for me. I finished in 7th, which is one of my best results in a high quality (although small) fleet. However, one of the biggest things that stood out to me is that I don’t, yet, have that winning mindset. There is one race in particular that stands out. I executed a good first beat, and got to the top mark in 2nd place, right behind the leader. From there my focus changed. Instead of focusing on fighting for every inch, and trying to win the race, I was thinking, “wow, 2nd is a really good result for me. There are a lot of good sailors behind me, let’s just make sure they don’t pass me.” That’s not a winning mindset. That’s definitely not the mindset of someone who wins races or regattas. For sure, confidence is a part of it. If you believed that you were the best sailor in the fleet, and that you deserved to be at the front, if you were anywhere else, you would fight to get back there. Confidence is something that will be built over time, but I’m not there yet. I am, however, someone who believes strongly that any skill can be trained, I and don’t see “mindset” as being an exception to that. The first step to training a skill is realizing that there is a skill to be trained; that’s where I am at right now. I don’t see this as being all that different from any other technical or tactical weakness that needs to improve. Awareness is the first step.

      The Sail Sydney regatta was my last one of 2016. I will now have some time off with my family, and then start off the New Year with some fitness testing and gym work in early January before getting back in the boat in Miami in preparation for the Miami World Cup event at the end of the month. Since this is my last post of the year, I though I would end it with some numbers from this past year:

      Kilometers of air travel: 102, 159
      Kilometers of road travel: 6,835
      Hours on the water: 578
      World ranking improvement: 223
      Venues sailed at: 17
      Countries travelled to for sailing: 9

      It’s been a good year. Looking forwards to an even better 2017!

      Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

      Fillah

  • I Feel Blessed
    • i feel blessed

      Sunday, April 16, 2017



      I feel blessed. I don’t know how else I can put it. The opportunity that I have been given is not something that I could have ever expected. It’s funny how life goes; sometimes, from the lowest lows come the greatest opportunities. In January, after I split ways with my previous coach, I was lost. It felt like nothing was going my way, and that everything was falling apart. I was not ready to give up; I knew that much, but, it felt that achieving my sailing goals was going to be all but impossible.

      As I was dealing with all of this, I got a call from my friend Giovanni who is one of the top laser sailors (currently ranked # 1 in the world) saying that he is putting together a small training group to work together towards the 2020 Olympics, and that he had a spot for me on the team if I wanted it. Of course, I wanted it, and I was on my way out to Slovenia to begin training with the group at the earliest opportunity. Our coach would be Vasilij Zbogar, who is one of the most accomplished single-handed sailors; having won three medals over 5 Olympics. It sounded too good to be true.

      It’s been almost a month since I arrived, and things are going great. Vasilij has a really good ability to see the big picture and help with all of the aspects of training and performing. Being able to put my trust in him to make all the decisions allows me to focus all of my energy just on the training. Having the opportunity to train with top sailors who are always pushing, on the water, and in the gym is also a huge component of what makes it so good. The standard that they set is top level, and naturally, that brings my level up as well.

      Since we began working together, we have done two regattas: the Europa Cup in Hyères (France), and the Spring Cup, here in Izola (Slovenia). I always knew that there would be a period with some confusion in my sailing as a result of changing coaches and therefore sailing philosophies. That is reflected in two very mediocre results at these two regattas. That being said, I think we are mostly through that period, and things will continue to get better and better. We have already seen some huge improvements to some of my weakest areas and I am really excited for what is to come!



      Thanks for reading!

      Fillah





      Photo credit: Dragan Sinozic

      Photo credit: Dragan Sinozic

  • Do nothing, get better?
    • DO NOTHING, GET BETTER?

      It’s been two and a half months in Europe, and now I am on my way home! I am physically and mentally exhausted, but overall, happy with the progress that I have made and the things I have learned. I have been pretty bad about writing updates lately, but will try to be more regular going forward.



      The last regatta of this block was the Delta Lloyd Regatta in Holland, which just finished today. Result-wise, I didn’t do very well. On the first day of the regatta, I actually had a great day. I executed some fantastic starts and had decent boat speed. Going into the regatta, I was feeling really mentally tired and a bit sick. On the first day, when I was sailing well, it was no problem, but then, as soon as I started to make mistakes, it really hit me and I felt really low energy for the rest of the regatta. I got really frustrated with myself a lot at this regatta, because I felt that I was capable of doing so much better that I did.



      Historically my reaction to this would be to get super fired up to start training right away to try and fix all my weaknesses. This time is different. I am still motivated for training and to get back to work, but I also realize that the reason that I underperformed my expectations here was not because of a lack of training. It was simply because I was really tired going into the regatta and not in a mental or physical state to perform.



      I guess this is one of the benefits of having done many things wrong in the past: I have lots of experiences to learn from. Last year, I had a 4 month period where I really hardly improved, and I now realize that this is probably the reason why. It went like this: fatigued -> bad race performance -> frustration -> train even more -> even more fatigue -> even worse race performance -> … you get the picture…



      I think this is a very natural reaction. If you have a problem, you want to fix it. In the case of sports, the obvious way is with more training. I’m starting to realize that maybe that is not always the answer. For me, it was a really weird concept to get my head around, but now that I have, I am quite confident that with some genuine time off, a lot of my problems from this regatta will solve themselves.



      I’m making it sound like some massive innovation – for me it is, but I’m really not talking about anything that crazy. My plan is to take 7 – 10 days fully off when I get home before getting back into it. We will see how it goes : )



      Once I get back into training, I will be preparing for the Laser North Americans, which are being hosted by the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club at the end of June. It has been a really long time since I have raced at home, and I am REALLY excited for it!




      Awesome start on day 1 of the Delta Lloyd Regatta



      Thanks for reading,

      Fillah 

  • Either You Win, Or You Learn
    • Either You Win, Or You Learn
      June 27, 2017

      I came into the North American championships at home in Vancouver this past week with a very clear goal. I was there to win. This might seem like the ordinary goal for a competitive sportsperson to have when entering a sporting competition, but, in my case, it has been a very long time since I’ve approached a regatta with this focus. This is because generally I am competing at major senior international regattas, and I am not yet at a level where winning those types of regattas is an attainable outcome.

      Well, I didn’t achieve that goal. I ended up finishing in fourth place, missing the podium by 3 points. Obviously, I’m disappointed in that outcome, and fourth hurts, but I can’t help but appreciate how valuable this experience has been.



      Those of you who have been following my updates for a while know that I relatively recently began working with a new coach (3X Olympic medalist Vasilij Zbogar) and training group. One of the major things that I have been learning from them is the concept of peaking and attaining your top form for the most important competitions in the year. This year, the North Americans was my second highest priority (the senior world championships in Split, Croatia in September is the top priority) and although I didn’t achieve my goal, this was definitely a peak performance from me. In fact, I feel comfortable going as far as to say that this was the best I have ever sailed. Historically, I have struggled to perform at the right times, with my good and bad regattas being fairly random, so this is a substantial step in the right direction.

      Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this regatta is what the missing piece was. As I wrote above, this was a peak performance, but I didn’t achieve my outcome goal. If I performed at the peak of what I am currently capable of, and I didn’t achieve the desired outcome, then, by definition, there was something missing. I’ve concluded that winning regattas is in and of itself a skill. And it’s a skill that I haven’t trained. Both in the mental and tactical areas, sailing a regatta where I was fighting at the front of the fleet created situations that I haven’t really trained to manage.

      Winning a sailing regatta, which is a series of a number of races, (Usually 10 – 14) comes down to consistency. You don’t get to have bad races. There were a few occasions here where the actions of another boat threw me off my game, and I wasn’t able to get my head back on task fast enough to recover. On the tactical side, knowing how to cover the fleet, and manage risk were areas that were deficient. As I mentioned above, the bulk of the regattas that I compete in currently are major international regattas where I am not yet racing at the front of the fleet. There is no question that racing in world class fleets is beneficial, but going forwards, I will need to incorporate more of a balance in my schedule to develop this skill of “winning” as well.

      All in all, I really enjoyed competing in this regatta. Racing a major competition at home is not an opportunity that I get a lot and I valued the experience.



      After the regatta ended, I went straight into packing up mode as I had less than 24 hours from the end of the last race before my flight was departing to head back out to Europe. It was a bit stressful as after being home for a month, I had spread everything out everywhere, but it worked out in the end and I am writing this update from the air.I am looking forward to getting back out to Europe to reconnect with my coach and training group. That being said, I am more than a little bit nervous, as, to put it bluntly, I’m broke. I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to you for your help if you are in a position to do so. My current financial situation is such that if I am going to survive until the World Championships in September this year, I will need to raise $14,300 CAD. I am fortunate to have had the support of my family, the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and a few supporters to have made it this far. Below, I have outlined the remaining costs that I need to pay this year. Donation can be made through the Wind Athletes Canada website, and you will receive a tax receipt for your contributions. Please feel free to contact me with any comments, questions or suggestions! -      

       New sail for the U21 Worlds----------------------------------------------$840 CAD

      Pay for the sail that I will use at the U21 Worlds in Belgium this July! This regatta, being a junior event, is an opportunity for me to practice that “missing piece” that I wrote about in this update-      

      New sail for the ISAF Worlds Test Event-------------------------------$840 CAD

      Pay for the sail that I will use at the ISAF Worlds Test Event in Denmark this August! In August of 2018, the ISAF Worlds will be held in Denmark. This regatta will be the first opportunity to qualify Canada for an Olympic Berth for the 2020 Olympics. This August, they will hold a test event, and it is an opportunity to get extremely valuable racing practice at this venue.-       
      New sail for the Senior Worlds-------------------------------------------$840 CAD

      Pay for the sail that I will use at the peak regatta of the year!-      
       
      Entry fee for the U21 Worlds---------------------------------------------$560 CAD

      Pay the entry fee for the U21 Worlds this July! -       

      Entry Fee for the ISAF Worlds Test Event-----------------------------$465 CAD

      Pay the entry fee for this key regatta this August!-      

       Entry fee & charter fee for the Senior Worlds---------------------$2,760 CAD
      Pay for the combined entry fee and mandatory boat charter fee for the peak regatta of the year! The senior worlds is a mandatory charter regatta which means that all the competitors are required to charter a new boat from the regatta organization. This is to ensure that no one has an unfair advantage due to unfair equipment. -       

      Coaching fees, July---------------------------------------------------------$2,350 CAD

      Pay for my coaching fees for the month of July! I am fortunate to work with an incredible coach. He plays a huge role in my development and I am constantly learning from him. This month includes a training block in Croatia, and the U21 Worlds in Belgium. -      

      Coaching fees, August----------------------------------------------------$2,350 CAD

      Pay for my coaching fees for the month of August! I am fortunate to work with an incredible coach. He plays a huge role in my development and I am constantly learning from him. This month includes the ISAF Worlds Test Event and a training block in Lake Garda.  -       

      Coaching fees, September-----------------------------------------------$2,350 CAD

      Pay for my coaching fees for the month of September! I am fortunate to work with an incredible coach. He plays a huge role in my development and I am constantly learning from him. This month includes the peak event of the year, the Senior Worlds! -      

       Fitness coaching fees, July-------------------------------------------------$315 CAD

      Pay for my fitness coaching fees for the month of July! Our training group works with a top fitness coach who is a specialist in Laser Sailing. He is very good at designing programs to peak at the right times, and plays an instrumental role in my program. -      

       Fitness coaching fees, August---------------------------------------------$315 CAD

      Pay for my fitness coaching fees for the month of August! Our training group works with a top fitness coach who is a specialist in Laser Sailing. He is very good at designing programs to peak at the right times, and plays an instrumental role in my program.-       
      Fitness coaching fees, September---------------------------------------$315 CAD

      Pay for my fitness coaching fees for the month of September! Our training group works with a top fitness coach who is a specialist in Laser Sailing. He is very good at designing programs to peak at the right times, and plays an instrumental role in my program.

       https://www.windathletes.ca/athletes/fillah-karim

      Thanks for reading, and thank you for your support!

      Fillah
  • An Encouraging Trend
    • An Encouraging Trend
      August 14, 2017

      I finished high school in June of 2012, and have been training full-time since then. There is no question that I have improved a lot in that time, but, until now, the results haven’t always reflected that. Finally, we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

      So far, I have competed in three regattas this summer: the North Americans in Vancouver where I finished 4th, the U21 Worlds in Belgium where I finished 15th, and the 2018 ISAF Worlds Test event in Denmark where I finished 36th. (Each regatta was a significantly higher level than the previous one. Finishing 36th at the Worlds Test event was a much bigger achievement for me than 15th at the U21 Worlds or 4th at the North Americans.) Admittedly, each result was for me overshadowed by the fact that all three times I came really close to doing a lot better. Regardless, the most important part is the trend that it shows. Each one was the best regatta that I had ever sailed until that point!

      Without a doubt, a huge amount of the credit for the progress that we are making goes to my supercoach Vasco. I am incredibly fortunate to have him on my team guiding me towards my goals.

      Right now, we are at the point in the season where we are very close to the final lead up into the World Championships that will be held in Split Croatia this September. This is the peak event of the year, and everything else I have done this year was in preparation for this event. At the beginning of the year, I set the goal of trying to make the gold fleet at the Worlds (top 33%). It will be a good challenge, but, if we can continue on this same trajectory as the past few months, it is definitely possible!

      Currently, I am writing this update in an airplane somewhere over the Atlantic. One thing that I have learned over the last few years, is that towards the end of a long period of time away from home, I am always mentally tired and my sailing performance is affected. I want to be fresh physically and mentally for the worlds, so I decided to cut this block in two and go home. However, since we are in the final lead up to the biggest race of the year, I couldn’t afford to have that much time away from the boat. In the end, we decided that I would go home for one week before heading back to Europe. To be honest, I’m not completely sure how this will go; it is a lot of travel time and a lot of time differences just for one week. Still, I have a fair bit of practice with getting over jetlag, and there’s nothing quite like being at home to recharge the batteries and come back ready to go.

      When I go back out to Europe, I will go to Lake Garda, Italy for one final 10 day training camp to fine tune anything that needs fine tuning, and then to Split one week before the worlds to get back into the sailing conditions there. Then it’s go time!!!



      On another subject, I am still in need of help with the financial side of my campaign. If anyone is interested in discussing a corporate sponsorship, or may be able to make a donation to my campaign, please contact me!

      Tax-deductible donations can also be made at this link.

      Thank you for your support!



      Thanks for reading!


      Fillah
  • The Valley
    • THE VALLEY

      Wednesday, September 20, 2017

      The World Championship was definitely not the peak performance that it was supposed to be. The opposite of a peak is a valley, so, it seems fitting for that to be the name of this update!

      At the beginning of the year, I set the goal of making the gold fleet at the world championships (top 50); a goal that I felt was ambitious, but achievable. All year, this goal was on my mind, and a source of motivation to push harder in training. In the end, I didn’t even come close to my target, finishing second last in silver fleet: overall, 98th out of the 148 competitors.

      Obviously, I am disappointed in the result. Coming into the regatta, I really did feel like I was capable of achieving my goal, but, in complete honesty, I never really considered that I could finish this far off the mark. Despite that, having now had a couple of days to reflect and analyze what went wrong, I do still feel positive about the future and even where I am at currently.

      So, what went wrong? To me, the fault was spread over the different elements of sailing like this: 50% physical, 40% mental, 10% technical/ tactical. Effectively, it was a failure in peaking (which is the skill of achieving your best performance at the intended time). The reason that I say this is that 1 month ago, I competed at the Aarhus test event and in my opinion my performance there was at or close to the level that I needed to perform at the worlds to achieve my goal.

      The physical side is perhaps the most obvious. When it was windy, I had no ability to sail the boat competitively, and I got absolutely destroyed. On day 3 of the regatta, it was blowing 20+knots of breeze and we did three races. I got rolled off the start line in all three and just never had good boatspeed. Physically, I was super tired before that day even started, and it only got worse. To be honest, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised about how bad my fitness level was. Looking back at the period of time leading up to the worlds, it is really quite easy to explain how it got there. In July we did a long training block, in Split. At this time, I had probably the highest fitness level of the last 6 months. At the end of the training block, I got sick, and the fitness suffered. From there, I went to the U21 worlds and the Test Event in Aarhus back to back. The fitness level always drops when you do regattas so I am assuming it was even lower. After that I flew home for 1 week and then flew back out to Europe. So you can add in some jet lag and some more travel, all of which kills the fitness level. I don’t currently have a good system of testing in place to monitor my fitness level (something that I need to work on when I go home), but, to me, it’s clear how this happened, and also clear what has to be done differently for next time.

      The mental part is perhaps the most interesting. I learned a really important lesson about myself and it’s a lesson that I could only have learned at a regatta like this where the result was so important to me. On day 2 of the regatta we only sailed one race. In this race, I had a fantastic start, and great boatspeed off the start line. Half way up the first upwind leg, I was easily in the top 10. At the end of the race, I was in the bottom 10. So, where did it fall apart? My conclusion was that it came down to trying ‘too’ hard. I was so focused on outcomes and results, that I was overcomplicating the racing and trying to solve problems that weren’t there. I had put so much pressure on myself to achieve an outcome that that was distracting me from the racing. This was the total opposite from the Test event in Aarhus where the result wasn’t even on my mind. There the racing felt much easier as I was fully in the moment, relaxed and patient.

      The technical/ tactical side wasn’t really the main problem. I give it 10% blame as I still lack a depth and consistency to my technique. This means that when things were not going well, the technique also faltered.

      The good part about all of this is that my result at this World Championship doesn’t actually matter in the big picture. The purpose of this regatta was to practice performing under pressure, when it mattered. I didn’t achieve that goal, but I feel confident that I know why, and this means that I can fix it for next year. From this point forwards, everything is centered around the ISAF World Championship in Aarhus next August. This regatta will matter as it is the first opportunity to qualify Canada for an Olympic spot and I have no doubt that the lessons I have learned here will prove to be extremely valuable.

      Now, we begin the offseason! I love this part of the year, because this is the period where you get to make the most improvements. Because you don’t have to worry about performing or moving around, you get to have some of the highest quality training of the year. I trust my coach 100% and feel really confident about the training plan that he is putting together. I am looking forward to putting my head down and getting to work!!!

      Now home for a month to recover and put in the hours in the gym to get the fitness level back. Then, out to Valencia, Spain to begin the fall/ winter sailing period.



      Thanks for reading,



      Fillah



  • The Gap
    • I’ve just completed my final block of training of 2017. It’s crazy how fast the year has gone by. I don’t know if this means that I am getting old, but, it feels like a year doesn’t last nearly as long as it used to! Pretty much everything that I have done since I started sailing in 2009 has been centred on the 2020 Olympics. It is completely absurd for me to realize that we are already at 2018 and the Olympics are only 2.5 years away…

      One of the coolest parts about pursing excellence – in anything, is that it requires you to always push your limits. The natural outcome of pushing your limits is that you discover new things. What I have been realizing more and more is that the developments that this pursuit pushes me to make extend far beyond just the technical aspects of racing a sailboat. There are a lot of examples of this, but there’s one that stands out to me specifically. As I look back on 2017, it may be the most valuable lesson that I learned this year.

      Without going into too much detail (that’s what the last update was about), my performance at the world championships was a substantial failure relative to the goal that I had set for myself. I’m speaking from quite a lot of experience in saying that failing sucks, but it is a hazard of pushing your limits. When I look back at my sailing career, there is no question that my biggest developments and breakthroughs originate from my most painful failures. The worlds this year was no exception to that.

      In the immediate analysis after the regatta, it was clear to me that the mental side had played a leading role in what went wrong. I was overly focused on outcomes and allowed that to take over everything else. I created all of this unnecessary pressure for myself, and I was trying so hard to achieve this result, and in the end things played out in the opposite way than I intented. This poor performance was the one that made me aware of the detrimental impact that my mindset was having on my performance, but looking back I can see that this played a role in all of the previous failures over the course of my sailing career.

      Understanding this, and being aware of it was the first step in trying to improve on it. The real progress, however, is in learning to accept that there is an element of everything that lies outside of my control (still a work in progress…) No matter what you do, or how hard you try, you cannot guarantee an outcome. There will always be a gap between doing everything possible in your control, and the outcome that you want. Some consider it blind luck, others see it as something more meaningful in a bigger picture, either way, the breakthrough for me is in accepting that there will always be some aspect that is outside my control.

      This acceptance is not complacency. I still believe that I need to do everything in my power to be successful and I am still very much driven by my main goal (which is absolutely an outcome goal) of winning a gold medal for Canada at the 2020 Olympics. I am starting to understand the balance of how these things fit together.

      It remains to be seen what impact this new perspective will have on my sailing performance. Regardless, what I have learned extends beyond just sailing. So far, I have found that I am more happy and relaxed than in the past, and I have already found this to have a positive impact on my training.


      Anyways, that’s enough deep theories for one update! Training has ben going really well over the last two months, and I feel that I’ve made meaningful improvements on the areas that didn’t go so well at the worlds. We spent one month training in Cadiz, and one month training in Gran Canaria. I was fortunate to have some top sailors training with me during this period – mainly Milivoj Dukic from Montenegro and Finn Lynch (more commonly known as Flinchy) from Ireland, and that helped to bring my sailing to a higher level. Also, I am very fortunate to have the wisdom of my coach Vasilij Zbogar guiding my program in the right direction.Now I have two weeks off before I arrive to Miami in early January. I will be racing in the Fort Lauderdale OCR regatta as a warm-up, and then the Sailing World Cup Miami at the end of the month. 2018 will be a very big year as the Olympic Qualification process will begin with the World Championships this August. I’m looking forward to getting back on the start line with the best guys in the world to evaluate the progress that I have made and identify what areas we need to focus on to keep improving!

       Wishing everyone a happy new year!!

      Thanks for reading,

      Fillah