Catching up with Tom Saunders [Interview]
22nd April 2022 Nautilus Marine Magazine
Nautilus Marine Magazine met up with the Auckland-based sailor and Laser World Champion.
I started sailing at around 9 years old… I didn’t come from a sailing background. For whatever reason, Mum and Dad took my brother and I down one day to give sailing a go. Jase was hooked straight away, and we basically taught ourselves. We had a good group going through at the same time and learned off each other. There were some good spot prizes at some local events which I thought was pretty cool, and probably kept me interested! Winning a TV is what we all dreamed about at nine years old!
I have always had a lot of passion for sport… I tried everything growing up. My interest was fairly split between soccer and sailing. It wasn’t until I was about 14 that I had to make the decision on where to focus more of my time. I started to have some good success after that in sailing, which always helps. I had a bit of a realisation that I could make a career out of this.
Picture credit: Ignasi Rojas
The 2021 Laser World Championships was a dream week… it felt like everything had fallen into place and I could do no wrong. I remember having a very clear and present mindset. Being able to sail with that freedom was a great feeling. I had a lot of messages coming in particularly the night before and morning of the last day, and it was pretty cool to feel that support and emotion. But just keeping present and staying in the moment like I had been all week was the key. Obviously, when it was all finished, standing on the winner’s podium was a very special moment.
I love the tactical side of Laser… The racing is so close and there is a lot of depth in the class, it definitely keeps you honest and can be incredibly humbling at times. But it is also very rewarding when you get those tactical decisions right. Being a one design class I think it is as pure as racing can get. You are in complete control of the outcome, which I really enjoy. And you only have yourself to blame when things go wrong.
Picture credit: Sailing Energy World Sailing
I do a lot of coaching with young sailors… and I always make an effort to be approachable. I love to give back and try to make some kind of impact. I have a lot of passion for it and get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Sharing that knowledge and experience is a great feeling. Sometimes that’s the most rewarding part of sport. You can really make a difference. It often forces me to think about what I actually do when I’m talking to kids. I feel like I get just as much out of it as hopefully they do.
One thing people might be surprised to learn about me is… that I know a chocolate chip cookie recipe off by heart!
The advice I’d give to an up-and-comer just making a start in sailing is… don’t be afraid to talk to people. Pick up the phone and ask for advice, everyone is always happy to share their experience.
My approach to sailing is to… enjoy the journey. You never stop learning. Conditions are always slightly different and there’s always something new to keep developing your skills on, and continue your interest and passion in the sport.
Picture credit: Yachting New Zealand
For more information about New Zealand sailing visit www.yachtingnz.org.nz