The Philipp Buhl interview

Can you tell us about your sailing career and what initially drew you to the sport?

My dad played the dominant role in my career. It all started when I was super young. My dad, being tired from work, fell a sleep on the sofa late in the evening with me in one arm and a sailing magazine in the other. Somehow I was interested in looking at the pictures in the magazine and I kept waking him up to turn the page. This is a story my mum keeps telling me until today. Later my dad took me on the water as a passenger with him and his crew on his Flying Dutchman, before I eventually stepped my feet in an optimist and later in a Laser.
My dad has dreamt his entire life to become a professional ski racer but never could, due to the lack of money and support. He supported me all my life with all his power to allow me to become a professional athlete, if I wanted to. He is an important consultant for me still today.

What inspires you every day?

The joy that I had competing at the Tokyo 2020 games and the emotions I could experience on this world stage is something unmatched for me and is something I want to experience again.

As an Olympic athlete, what does the Olympics represent to you personally and professionally?

It’s a huge privilege! As to me the Olympic Gold medal in the Laser class is the ultimate achievement there is in sailing. It’s the most competitive olympic sailing class since years and you cannot hide within a big team or gain any technical advantage on the equipment.
You could win the Sail GP, America’s Cup and big Offshore Regattas if you happen to be part of the right team at the right moment. In the laser Olympics it’s purely you against the best individuals and it requires a very complete profile of a sailor in order to just have a shot at fighting for the win. Laser racing get’s almost the least amount of media interest in all of sailing, while winning at the Olympics is the most difficult challenge an individual sailor can 

Can you walk us through your day-to-day routine as you prepare for the Olympics in Marseille?

I try to stick to my plan of connection all the dots. In my career I have had skills that “just” need to be refreshed and brought back in my game again. I have great support from great people, who help me to go a few new paths aswell, which is super exiting.

What are the biggest challenges you currently face in your sailing career, and how do you overcome them?

The most difficult challenge since the beginning of my professional career is, that I didn’t grown up in a system like the British or Australian squad. I have always gotten great support from the German sailing team, but if you set the goal to win a gold at a laser worlds or olympics one day, you realize that some sailors from other countries have a jump start on you with a lot of knowledge in their system. As just
learning a new skill that you get taught is much easier than discovering it first and then learning it.
Through this circumstances I had to become a very analytic athlete with a bunch of extra work, but I believe this long and hard way made me understand things even better.

Looking back on your career, what are some of the highlights and why?

Winning the world Championships in Melbourne 2020. The performance I could show there is remarkable to me still today. The number of Olympic champions I could defeat in this edition was amazing and I will always remember this achievement with a smile and a little pride.

What does the Laser/ILCA class mean to you and what would you tell someone following your footsteps?

The purest sailing the is! Brutally honest!

How has the Vakaros technology impacted your training and performance as a sailor, and what advantages does it offer you on the water?

On the technical sessions in our training group we just put the Vakaros unit flat on the boats and connect our sensors. If after sailing we want to look and compare one or two specific segments of the training that were exceptionally good or bad, be dive into the data to understand things better and more precisely.
On my Laser I rarely look at the screen while sailing, whereas in my moth I choose to look at the data while sailing, too: Speed, heel, load cell and heading.