14 Questions to … Sam Vandormael

Brothers gonna work it out

14 Questions to … Sam Vandormael Image
Photo courtesy of Matias Capizzano

Sam and Daan Vandormael, from Antwerp, Belgium at their first Worlds in Cascais had a great Championship and finished in 9th place. Below you can read a nice interview with Sam.

– 1) Your first time on a sailing boat?

It would have to be a couple of sailing courses my parents brought me to at our famed local lake Galgenweel in Antwerp, of which I failed my second one at that.

– 2) Your first time on a Snipe?

My first memories of Snipe sailing are at the same lake with my father. We had our national championship there in 2004. They were supposed to be on the North sea but the conditions were so rough on day 1 that they decided to change locations for the remainder of the competition (Yes Belgium is tiny enough to move a whole event to a small lake 1 hour away, which for us is almost cross-country. I had just turned 11 years old, sailing opti’s and not even strong enough to fully hoist the whisker pole all by myself and just did my best to listen to everything my dad told me. In light, fluky conditions we managed to win the event to top it all off.

– 3) The most bizarre thing that happened in a regatta?

I once had to resail a race at a big event in Laser because a submarine had surfaced on our race-course.

– 4) What is the thing that most angers you in a race/regatta?

Either unfair sailing or making a mistake you saw coming and still making it anyway.

– 5) Which is the race/regatta that you remember with the most pleasure?

One that has always stuck with me is a race in Gold fleet at the Laser Radial Youth Worlds in Largs in 2010. The conditions had favored the left side all week, but in the pre-start my coach told me to go right. I wasn’t completely convinced but decided to follow his advice. I was on my own with 2 other boats heading right in medium wind conditions when after 5 minutes the wind shifted 30° to the right allowing me to lead the fleet at the windward mark by over a minute and win. To this day, that coach still hasn’t told me what made him make that strategic call which keeps the memory so vivid.

The Snipe Worlds in Cascais were also epic, as it was my first time sailing a Snipe in open water, big wave conditions and the first opportunity to sail a major championship with my younger brother.

– 6) And the race/regatta you would like to forget?

I’ve already forgotten about it 😉.

– 7) Your “dream in the peak”? (Your sailing dream?)

Even though it’s unfortunately unattainable in our sport, to one time sail the perfect, mistake-free race.

– 8) Sailing goals for 2023, and beyond?

I’m currently working as a coach for the Olympic team of Aruba. Qualification for the Olympics for one of my athletes and winning a Pan-American medal would be amazing.

For myself, we would like to compete at this year’s European championship in Gargnano. If my brother and I can leave the event feeling satisfied that we made the most of it and had fun, that would be the most important.

– 9) The most important people for you in sailing and in the Snipe?

First of all, my parents and my younger brother. I’ve sailed with all three, both as a helm and crew and had fun with all of them, including the little inter-family competition from time to time.

Secondly, the Belgian sailing team that I was a part of for 12 years. From different coaches to teammates, I’ve always been able to learn something from everyone on all levels.

Last but certainly not least, the Belgian Snipe class as a whole. Many of the sailors have known me from when I was running around the boat-park as a toddler and have seen me grow up through the ranks in different classes. I tried returning to the class from time to time throughout the years and  the atmosphere is always amazing.

I believe the Snipe is a great mix of fun and competition. There are plenty of amazing sailors in this fleet. The boat is technical and allows you to find advantages on multiple levels and when the breeze is on, you need to work to be fast which makes it a blast.

– 10) Why the Snipe?

I believe the Snipe is a great mix of fun and competition. There are plenty of amazing sailors in this fleet. The boat is technical and allows you to find advantages on multiple levels and when the breeze is on, you need to work to be fast which makes it a blast.

– 11) Your perfect sailing venue and your perfect sailing conditions?

For the view, there aren’t many places that beat lake Garda. For the challenge, a breezy day on our North Sea coast has definitely been at the top of my list, providing amazing downwind sailing. If I could construct my own option, it would be a combination of both including adding both water temperatures together.

– 12) Besides sailing which other sport do you practice?

I like being outdoors. Even though I’m not good at any of these, I enjoy Wakeboarding, Snowboarding and am currently learning to Windsurf and Wingfoil. Walking in the mountains also brings a great peace of mind and finally the gym because let’s face it, you can’t sail the Snipe without going to the Gym right?

– 13) Are you superstitious?

Doesn’t every sailor pray for a wind shift in their favour from time to time?

– 14) Your perfect holiday?

I’m currently working for Aruba and my Fiancé is working in Curaçao for a year as part of her education. Both factors allow me to travel to that part of the world quite a bit. I can highly recommend both for people in need of a break. Besides that, Italy has never disappointed me, so I’m really looking forward to the European championship this year.



Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Your comment will be revised by the site if needed.