Who Am I?
I’m John Brooker, I’m an ex – British Sailing Team sailor turned coach.
I’ve sailed for most of my life starting in Optimists, then Cadets.
Honestly; I wasn’t a fan – a Winter of sailing, crammed into the front of a cadet, finishing last in almost every race was enough to convince me sailing wasn’t for me. So I quit and decided to spend my Sunday’s playing footy.
I decided to sail a Laser 4.7. I came out of my first 4.7 group training session very wet having capsized countless times, once onto the coach boat. Oops! The main thing though, was that I loved it, sure 4.7s were a bit tippier than cadets, but the speed and exhilaration I got from it made it well worth continuing. The 4.7 group was great to be part of, it was small and friendly, and I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to racing.
As well as racing I also enjoy instructing and became a Dinghy Instructor in 2011. Since I have taught on four weeklong courses, all of which have been extremely rewarding.
In 2011 I decided that I wanted to get involved with Paralympic sailing and was told 2.4mR Paralympic coach Matt Grier was the man to talk to. After talking with him, we agreed that I would get some practice in a 2.4mR, which was generously leant to me by Frensham Pond Sailing Club. Frensham was very helpful in showing me the ropes (literally) and entrusted me with a 2.4mR. My first event was a national ranker down in Weymouth in autumn. It was wet and extremely windy (getting towards un-sailable), a perfect start to 2.4mR racing don’t you think? What could possibly go wrong? I started the first race to find the boat was rapidly filling up with water, but it wasn’t getting pumped out as the pump had broken! My boat started to sink! Luckily I was rescued, but if that’s not what they call throwing you in the deep end I don’t know what is!
I persevered and attended more national rankers throughout the year, having the privilege to sail against some very talented opposition, including Megan Pascoe, and Helena Lucas who would go on to win a Paralympic Gold Medal later that year. My first ‘big’ event was in May just after my exams. Sail For Gold was the biggest event before the Games, with sailors attending including Nick Dempsey, Hannah Mills, Iain Percy, Hannah Stodel, Giles Scott, Ben Ainslie, and… ME! This was a bit surreal but it was great to be there. I had a great three days of sailing, racing against many international competitors including Heiko Kroger and Damien Seguin. On the third day of competition after a long days sailing I had a terrible landing which damaged the boat to the extent that I had to pull out of the competition. This was unfortunate but I astonishingly didn’t finish the five-day event last, having only sailed three days! Also at the medal ceremony I met the greatest Olympic sailor ever Ben Ainslie, which made the event a great experience.
In the summer of 2012 I improved my sailing after a change of boat, jib and some useful advice from some very experienced 2.4mR sailors. After which I was able to come 8th in the 2.4mR inland national championship. The summer of the games certainly achieved in inspiring a generation. I witnessed Ben Ainslie’s legendary Gold, making him the greatest ever Olympic sailor. Next autumn I was awarded a place in the Paralympic Transitional Squad, which has helped my sailing enormously with many training camps throughout the year.
2012-2020 coming soon…