An Interview with Seaford’s Sailing Duo

Oliver Randall-May and Thomas Lawson in actionSeaford College Prep School pupils Oliver Randall-May and Thomas Lawson are keen and talented sailors. After bumping into each other at Chichester Sailing Club, having never realised that each other sailed, they now sail their RS Feva XL, a double handing sailing dinghy, together with great success, and have high hopes for the future. They have just done extremely well in the Schools Week competition at Itchenor Sailing Club, representing Seaford. They were racing alongside much older competitors, many of whom were four years older than them, and did fantastically well. They participated in eight races over two days, their best position was 8th and they overall ranked 26th out of 40.

When did you start sailing?

Thomas
: I’ve grown up by the water, my dad grew up by the water. In the holidays we’d go sailing all week. I started in a Topper about five to six years ago, and I sailed in Toppers until I started to sail the Feva.
Oliver: I started sailing when I was three. I’ve been out in loads of different boats, we go down to the Salcombe Merlin Rocket week, which is really fun.

What do you like about sailing?

Oliver: I like the speed, when it’s really windy it’s really fun, especially when you’re sailing with friends.
Thomas: I like the adrenaline rush, trying to keep the boat level.
Oliver: You have to be really strong!

How did you start sailing together?The boys out on the water

Oliver: My dad is the Topper Captain at the sailing club and we went along to an event and I saw Tom there, and said ‘what are you doing here?’ I knew who he was at school but we weren’t close, sailing has really bought out friendship together.
Thomas: We work really well together as a team. Tacks across the boat are really hard, and within one training session we were doing it without saying anything. We work really instinctively together.

What’s it like sailing your RS Feva XL?

Oliver: It’s a big difference! I’ve got the easy job though, the helm-work, so I’m just steering, which doesn’t change.
Thomas: I’ve got to look after the sails, the jib and the really big sail, which is really hard to control. It’s the biggest challenge of the boat.

The boys battle the elementsHow often do you train?


Oliver
: We train at weekends, and we try to get Friday nights in to, but it can be hard with the tides.

Are you competitive when you race?

Thomas
: I get annoyed sometimes when we race because I’m really competitive.
Oliver: I just laugh and ignore him! But his competitive element drives us on.
Thomas: He calms me down, I think we balance each other out.
Oliver: Even when we’re at the back, I’m still happy and smiling and singing.

What do your parents think about your sailing?

Oliver: My dad always says that the most important thing about a race is having fun. If I haven’t done my homework, then I can’t go sailing. The other day I woke up at 6am and did all my homework, and I texted Thomas to ask if we could go sailing. He was still in bed!
Thomas: Whenever it’s nice weather we go sailing, if there’s a massive wind we go and have fun. My dad won’t let me go if I’m not having fun.

What are you hopes for the future? Would you like to continue sailing?
Oliver and Thomas make a great pair

Thomas: I’m aiming high to get professional. I’d love to be either at the Olympics or a yacht skipper. I always think to aim high, not too high, but high enough. It’s great to keep aspiring, if you feel that you can aim high then you will get high.
Oliver: I’d love to get to the Olympics, I think we’d try for the 2020 Olympics when we’re 16, we probably won’t get in but then we know the ropes. We might make the 2024 Olympics. I would prefer an Olympic career, but any jobs to do with sailing would be great.

One last question: have you ever fallen in?

Oliver: I’ve fallen out of the boat lots of times.
Thomas: I backflipped out of a topper once.

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