FINDHORN lad, Gillies Munro, and his crew Daniel Harris are making a bid for Olympic glory.
The pair have been selected for the Podium Pathway Potential Squad for the British Sailing Team, aiming to sail their way to the Olympic Games in 2024.
Being part of the prestigious team is an honour for the small-town boy from the north of Scotland.
He said: "It’s great to be part of a bigger outfit while having access to all the coaches who come with a wealth of knowledge and all the support staff who keep us fit and well."
Olympic blood runs in Gillies’ genes. His inspiration was uncle, Neil Munro, who competed as a skier in the Albertville Winter Olympics in 1992. Gillies’ family’s support has been a huge inuence in his life. In particular, his dad has been a source of motivation in terms of directing and advising him.
However, it is not only family who have had a major impact on Gillies’ sailing career. Daniel Harris and he have worked together since they started sailing. They made the decision to sail together on the 49er after they finished youth sailing. It was the obvious choice as they both preferred sailing with a partner.
Gillies’ determination and organisation also play a key role in his successes. He suggests that if you really want to do something, never take no for an answer and you’ll eventually get where you want to be.
Gillies first set sail on the bay at Findhorn aged four: "Getting into sailing was a pretty natural decision. Growing up, I spent a lot of time messing around on the water."
It wasn’t until he was in his mid-teens that he committed himself to sailing.
He admits, "I started competitive sailing very late but I soon got hooked on racing. When I was about 15 I made the decision to stop playing rugby and focus on sailing as we had just started to achieve good results at a national level."
He has hardly looked back and is now steeped in sport on the water. Some might even say he is obsessed: "I enjoy the
complexity of it. You have many different variables from the wind and the waves, but you also have controllable aspects
like fitness and sailing ability. Put these together while racing lots of other boats, you will never ever have the same race twice as the conditions always change."
In the north of Scotland, conditions certainly change frequently but Gillies admits that one factor - the cold - is constant in the dark months. He battled freezing condition for winter after winter until this year when he and Harris finally made the decision to train in Portugal from December to March.
These intense conditions are not the only pressures that Munro has had to face throughout his sailing career. To sail a
49er, the pair needed to meet the combined weight restrictions of 160kg. This meant that each of them needed to gain no less than 12kg before they could race. The duo poured blood, sweat and tears into a vigorous training for one year to get to the required weight - one which he now claims is easy to maintain.
Gillies has morphed and shaped not only his body but also his life around his sailing career. Currently, he is trying to balance his training and competitions with study.
He is a fourth-year student of Mechanical Engineering with Renewable Energy at the University of Edinburgh.
This summer, Gillies heads to major competitions in Germany and France, ending the season in Denmark for the ISAF World Championships.