Nick Thompson_750
Image credit: Paul Wyeth / British Sailing Team

Nick Thompson Interview


Squad: British Sailing Team Podium Squad
Boat: Laser
Hometown: Lymington / Exeter

Harken sponsored Laser sailor Nick Thompson is making quite a name for himself in the competitive circuit, racking up a number of impressive results  from Bronze in the 2014 Santander World Championships to gaining podium positions in each of three major events this year, the Laser Worlds, Europeans and Rio test event.

Having recently been voted for the “committed to Excellence” award by his fellow British Sailing Team peers Nick Thompson’s dedication to British Sailing is not going unnoticed as he quickly becomes one to watch in the run up to Rio 2016.

Having sailed from the age of two this Lymington based sailor has gone on to sail and race in a variety of boats from Optimists through to foiling moths, Melges 32’s Far 40’s, TP52’s and of course the Olympics with his Laser.

We caught up with Nick to see what it’s like to be in his shoes, to get an idea of the people that are helping make it all happen, how hard he’s had to work to get where he is and how he plans to get to Rio in 2016.


You once said, The best all-round sailors who can best adapt to what’s going on around them are the ones who thrive at the Olympic Games,” how have you taught yourself to adapt to varying sailing conditions? 

Hard work; many sailors will have certain strengths and it’s very easy to play to these every time you hit the water (often without realising you are doing so), but to be a great all round sailor you have to break your sailing down and accept your weaknesses. Once you do this you can figure out the ways to improve, often meaning you will have ups and downs but in the long run you will be better.

You’ve mentioned in previous blogs that you raise your game for “pressure events”, how do you keep nerves under control? 

I think there are a few factors that play in to this, realising that a few nerves is completely normal and everyone feels them, but then looking at the toughest events as the best opportunities for success as apposed to being afraid of losing. It’s not something that happens overnight and this is where experience is a huge help.

What’s the key to a good position on the start line? 

Working out the priorities of the race before the start and then basing your decision of where to start versus the risks and fleet position from this. For example an open race track with regular shifts may mean that starting on the line in a bit of space may outweigh winning an end or being in traffic off the line.

You were recently voted to win the “Committed to Excellence” award, how did it feel to be given this award as voted by your peers? 

To receive an award from all sailors and support staff at the British Sailing Team was a huge honour. It’s a team brimming with talent; not only within the sailors but also the support staff who are all experts in their domains so to be highlighted for the “committed to Excellence” award was fantastic.

Harken were there to help get gear out to you for the Rio test event after some preparation issues left you without kit. You seem to have a close relationship with the team at Harken, how important is it to have a close relationship with the people supporting your campaign?

Harken and I have had a close working relationship dating back to my Youth days, they have always been supportive of my campaigns and have helped me out of more than one tricky situation. It’s nice to know that I’m not only using the best kit with Harken but I also have a great team behind me.

You use 29 mmT2 blocks on your Laser, which is not a standard off the shelf choice (18 mm T2 from the Harken XD Kit), why do you choose this block over the standard fitting? 

Although the T2 18 mm is a fantastic block and I’ve no doubt of its huge breaking load, I feel the 29 mm gives me a slightly lower friction through my systems, I’m happy to give up a few grams and a little air drag from the ease of micro adjustments.

Your Laser is fitted with FSE rope, why do you choose FSE over other rope brands? 

Through my vast (ahemm) years in the Laser I have tried many different ropes and finally feel that I have found what I am after with the FSE lines. The FSE Dinghy control is very supple meaning it runs very well through my blocks, it also has no stretch and a high wear resistance; so much so that I haven’t changed my lines for over a year. The FSE Dyneema Ocean 7000 is another fantastic line that I use for all of my outhall system, it’s also extremely supple with a resistance to wear higher than any other line I have tried.

You have sailed a variety of boats in your career has this helped hone your skills as a sailor and professional athlete? 

Absolutely. Post Weymouth Olympics I took some time off from my Laser sailing. I got involved with some great teams calling tactics on Melges 32’s, Farr 40’s, TP52’s and many sports boats like the Viper and J70; achieving some fantastic results along the way. This experience was invaluable for my Olympic sailing as it helped me focus my tactic knowledge and technical skills, whilst allowing me the time out from Olympic campaigning needed to stay fresh and focused in the lead up to this games.

You speak very highly of your coach, Chris Gowers, how instrumental has Chris been in developing your skills as an Olympian?

Chris is a fantastic coach, anyone who has had the pleasure of working with him will tell you that he’s very unorthodox in his approach to certain things but when you start communicating on the same level he’s a wealth of vital information and experience. One of his key strengths is to distil the key information from the abundance of non-useful ideas floating around so that I can focus on getting the job done be it on the water or off.

What advice do you have for sailors aspiring to be in your shoes? 

Work hard but enjoy the sport. It’s far too easy to get drawn in to the competitive side of the sport too early and forget the real reason your out on the water. To have fun!


Things don’t slow down for Nick who will be very busy right up to the end of the year competing in theISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi in November as well as heading to Rio for training in December. Watch this space…

Nick’s results from 2014:





Sept 14

ISAF Sailing World Championships



Aug 14

Aquece Rio International Sailing Regatta 2014 (Rio 2016 Test Event)



Jun 14

Laser European Championship



May 14

Garda And Trentino Olympic Week



Apr 14

ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres



Jan 14

ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami




Find out more about Harken dinghy hardware HERE

Follow Nick on:
Facebook: Nick Thompson Sailing
Twitter: @Nick_Thompo 


Follow Harken UK on:
Facebook: Harken UK
Twitter: @HarkenUK

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