Interview with Jean-Yves Fillion

Interview with Jean-Yves Fillion

As we reported a few weeks ago, Jean-Yves Fillion won the 2024 ILCA Masters Midwinters East across all ILCA 6 divisions and came in second overall at the Palm Beach Florida Master. We caught up with him to discuss the events.

Bell 42: Tell us about the two events

JYF: It’s almost 7 days of sailing in a row, spending 5 to 6 hours on the water every day. While we had light days, when it was blowing, it was quite heavy. On the last day at Jensen Beach, it was 20 to 25 knots and I gave it everything I had, not least because I had lost the Florida Masters in the last race. Thankfully I managed to win the last two races at Midwinters.

Fighting with the waves at Midwinters

Bell 42: It sounds like stamina was essential. What did you do to prepare?

JYF: Yes, hiking and overall fitness is a real challenge with these regattas. At my age, it requires more time in the gym and I reinforced my routine. I work on agility and flexibility. I box 3 times a week, bike either on the road or the Peloton, do planks twice a day for two minutes fore core strength. I also was skiing a lot this winter which helped. When you need to help the boat through the waves, it’s almost like skiing moguls.

On the water, I was also supported by Andrew Scrivan at Masters and Kevin Broome at Midwinters.

Jean-Yves first to the mark in a 2022 AYC regatta

Bell 42: Was there any part of your training leading up to the events that made a big difference in your mind?

JYF: I’ve been spending more time on the water in the last year. I find one doesn’t need to practice for long periods, just more regularly. I try to get out on the water twice a week. It helps me feel the boat better and rebuilds my reflexes. I started managing my schedule to make this possible and I’ll go out with fellow Laser sailors at AYC or grab a coach to join me.

I would also say that frostbiting as AYC has been helpful. For the first time in many years, I didn’t do my practice in Florida but raced at American. The regular sailing, every Sunday on a starting line with very competitive boats, was very good for me. The kind of frostbiting we do is almost a weak point for me. I’m more at ease on longer courses, but frostbiting is more like sprints. It’s improved my starts and made me work on my quickness. It has helped me on the longer-course racing we get in these Masters events. I’ve also attended a lot of big regattas, so more trained up for national events.

On the frostbiting course, 2024

Bell 42: AYC Sailing Director Kevin Broome complimented you on your starts. What was your approach?

JYF: Starts are always a challenge for me as I have a tendency to be over-conservative. A year-and-a-half ago, I really felt like I needed to improve this. Rather than spending my time catching up, if I could be racing against 10 boats rather than 60, it makes life so much easier. 

For my routine, before the warning signal, I’m spending several minutes timing myself with the current at the boat and the pin. If I’m trying to hold position, how much did I move over a set period of time. At 5 minutes, I’m at the committee boat looking around at the line and course, and making sure I’ve got the time right. At 4 minutes, I’m making sure I’m in sync with the time and I try to get a good sense of the imaginary line because a line sight isn’t always available. I try to look at the puffs and oscillations — I’m not great at measuring them but I try to take them into account.

At District 8s at AYC in 2023

Bell 42: Thanks for spending time with us. Any last thoughts?

JYF: There’s not a day I’m not proud to wear AYC colors at an event. I love sailing for this club. It’s a motivation.