What is your background
Grew up in Cornwall, graduated as a Naval Architect, now decided to put everything into my life long sport, Windsurfing, and aim for the Olympics in Tokyo 2020. Only one person is selected to represent each country so the competition is very tough, I have 2 world titles and 7 world medals behind me and I believe I have a chance so I’m going for it. The Olympics is one of the greatest sporting events on the planet and I would dream of representing my country there.
Why did you decide to attend Websummit?
I’m working part time as a Naval Architect, but I want to focus fully on my sport and collaborate with companies/businesses. I went to Websummit to listen to new ideas, learn more about tech and meet people I can work together with.
— Sam Sills (@sam_sills) November 20, 2015
To experience beautiful North-west Ireland, check out the wild coast for windsurfing, learn from others.
How did it go? What useful encounters came out of both of them?
Invaluable and inspiring, it was awesome to meet so many interesting, nice and humble people. Im really excited to work with the contacts made. I learnt so much from just meeting and spending time with people at both events.
— Sam Sills (@sam_sills) November 4, 2015
How was it meeting John Sculley, any interest? Possible funder / backer?
It was great to meet John! We shared some of the drone videos we produced with Jeep earlier this year and he loved them!
Tips to others attending to get the most out of it
Its all about preparation, be ready to share your best content/ project at any moment, keep it simple and well executed. I used a recent video collaboration from Jeep and www.kitevision.co.uk ready with speakers and IPad for maximum effect.
Be a loud voice on Twitter about the event and contacts you meet. It will help you to make more contacts and also helps the ones your already working with.
Good nutrition and hydration is very important because the days are exhausting
– Be patient and talk with everyone, it’s often not until the last drink in evening, that you meet the right person.
Take time to check the schedule, go to the talks that interest you, often you will meet like minded people you can work with at these talks.
Relax and enjoy the whole experience. Its mind blowing.
— Sam Sills (@sam_sills) November 29, 2015
How is tech transforming Windsurfing?
The way people interact and view windsurfing is constantly evolving, GoPro has enabled people like myself to share a small insight into a personal world out on the water and through social media its extremely easy to share these with a wide engaged audience, sponsorship collaborations have never been so valuable to businesses simply through these social channels.
Using drones makes it so much easier to understand Olympic Racing, the racing can be hard for people to follow, offshore and happening very fast, however from an aerial view its no problem. This used to only be possible with helicopters.
Physically the game is changing, athletes are able to manage training data in a smarter ways. Olympic windsurfing is an endurance sport encompassing tactics, technique and aerodynamics. Finding small % gains is the key to winning races, I use Suunto GPS and HR wearables to analyse training and better understand trends. Another recent tech innovation is the use of Heart Rate Variability, measuring the bodys level of recovery by detecting the difference in irregularity between heartbeats. An app on your phone can tell you whether you are using your sympathetic (stress) or parasympathetic (recovery) nervous system and this can dictate how hard to push yourself for the next session.
What tech would you like to exist to help you even in more in what you’re trying to achieve?
Ah this is such an awesome question, I love to imagine these things!
To gain extra speed we pump our sails, its very physical on the body and there is huge focus among athletes in becoming more powerful and being able to go harder for longer. I would like to have a waterproof, small, wearable measuring power output alongside speed and HR when we pump. This would be so useful.
Delivering high quality content to sponsors, social media, news outlets is really important. I love photography I would dream to have a slim camera I can stuff in my wetsuit, that is waterproof, shock proof, and take pictures like the latest SLR’s. GoPro’s are incredible and have their place, but only really for close up shots. Often I see beautiful angles and colours and wish I could capture the same way as my eyes were seeing. The best moments are rare so it would be important to always have this futuristic camera with you, but so small its not affecting comfort or performance.
— Sam Sills (@sam_sills) November 6, 2015
Drones – how soon do you think we will have them tracking each individual competitor and giving the viewer a more complete experience?
It’s already happening, at the French Olympic Week Regatta, held in La Rochelle last month there was multiple drones covering the last medal race. I crossed the line in 3rd with a drone right over my head! You can watch it soon at www.samsills.com.
What’s next for you?
Training with the Norwegian Team in the Canary islands over the next month, then back home for a 2-3 week heavy physical block with my physical coach and mentor James Owen. Hopefully to Miami in January for the first World Cup of the year and then to the World Championships in February, held in Israel. Alongside I have some collaborations planned with new contacts from web/surf summit, and around that a couple exciting design projects.
— Sam Sills (@sam_sills) November 23, 2015
We can be constantly online – how do you manage online ‘ /offline / sport / life / work balance?
I found it very difficult to start with but now I figured out the key. Wake up earlier, have systems that save time, live for your sport and the rest will fall into place. Its really simple, do things that give you energy and inspiration, don’t make your life too complicated. Less is more. But work hard. I’m most productive when I’m training. Make small good decisions everyday and over time you will reap the rewards.
Keeping on top of social media can be time consuming, I use a couple apps to help manage that, Hootesuit for twitter and Publish for Instagram. Both allow you to schedule post’s in advance.
When I’m travelling I like to have minimal possessions. Too much stuff weighs you down, the secret is to know when “less is more”.
How can people reading this get involved in your journey to Olympics?
You can follow my 4 year journey to the Olympics at samsills.com, Facebook & Insta: samsillswindsurf and Twitter: @Sam_sills. My Identical twin sisters Saskia and Imogen Sills are also following the same path. They are studying in their 2nd years of University.
If you would like to work with me and my twin sisters on a collaboration with your brand/project then we would love to listen. I’m focusing on aligning with companies that share the same core values. Windsurfing is an insane mix between freedom, endurance and adventure. I’m excited for the future of tech and sport!