Laura Phily-Guyamier, double bronze medalist at the Agrinio 2021 European Championships in water skiing, confided to Spotyride!
I would advise them: “To believe in themselves and to train, because with work, you can achieve anything. You just have to be persistent.”
Laura Phily-Guyamier, trick-ski water skiing specialist
Hello Laura, can you introduce yourself
Hello, my name is Laura, I’m 27 years old, I’ve been waterskiing since I was 6 years old. I have been in the France team since I was 11 in 2006, and now I have specialized in the discipline of tricks.
I’m still in the France team, I continue the championships. This year, we are in full preparation for the world championships.
Can you talk to us of your track record?
When I was little, I was water skiing in Niort. I was spotted by Raoul Gabriel (manager of a water ski school on the Arcachon basin) by winning an internship with him which went very well at the age of 8-9. That’s how he became my coach. From 4th to 3rd, I went to sport-study. Subsequently, I changed to do a little surfing while continuing water skiing and then I finished my final year in another high school in Cognac in sport-study water-skiing again with Denis Garcia.
During all these years I was part of the France team. At first in combined, i.e. in slalom, jump and figure then around the age of 21, I specialized in figures.
I was 20 times champion of France, 14 times medalist at the European championships including 4 times gold medalist. Currently, I am ranked 7th in the world ranking and 2nd in Europe.
What are figures?
These are 2 courses of 20 seconds to complete, by linking figures.
For the first course, you have to ski on one foot with the second attached to the rope and for the second course, you hold the rope more precisely with the “bar” in your hands. It is during this course where we do all the somersaults.
What made you take up water skiing?
It happened completely by chance following my move to Niort. There was an open day where you could try water skiing and I never stopped.
What are your goals?
This year my objective is to have a title at the European Championships in Greece and a podium at the World Championships in Florida which will take place from October 11th to 17th. At least I’m aiming for the top 5.
Do you have other passions besides water skiing? I do other sports on the side: horse riding, downhill skiing, kitesurfing, gym too. I compete as an amateur, but it’s mostly for fun.
What would be your advice for people who would like to ride at a high level?
To believe in them and to train, because with work, you can achieve anything. Just be persistent.
And business manager since 2018 of a water ski and wakeboard school
Isn’t it too complicated to be a professional rider today?
Yes, it’s complicated to make a living from it, I’m lucky to have a sponsor, the “Cheminées Poujoulat“ that has been following me since I was 12 years old. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to continue skiing so it’s really thanks to them and my family. This is also why I created my own ski school in Maubuisson in 2018 and now in Saint-Martin since January 2021, to be able to make a living from it.
How do you organize yourself to succeed in reconciling the two?
For the Maubuisson school, the first two years I was on my own, it was my mother and my sister who helped me during the summers. Since last year I have providers, pilots who come. It allows me to be able to train and pilot the children of the club and the competitors so I spend less time in the boat.
Regarding my school in Saint-Martin, I also have a pilot on site. I remotely manage everything around the structure but I don’t pilot. I went there for the launch in January.
What does top-level sport bring to the management of your businesses? First of all, it’s important, the fact of wanting to always be more efficient. This is true in sport as well as in business. To succeed in increasing activities, quality, to challenge yourself to always be efficient.
How did you deal with the COVID-19 crisis? For the school of Maubuisson, we will say that it was, because I had state aid during the winter season. In the summer, we were able to reopen everything so I was not affected. Without the aid, it would have been more complicated but playable, because the high season was very positive.
On the other hand, for Saint-Martin, we were very impacted, because it is mainly foreigners who come to the island, the people living there do not practice water skiing a lot except that everything was closed, there was no one. This winter, when we were there, everything was open, but we needed a compelling reason, at the beginning of the summer everything was still closed, so no longer a tourist destination at all since we in France have started to live normally again. As a result, we tried to develop activities on the island, we hold open days, we try to work with associations, schools, but it’s not like in France, the means are not the same . Today, the health situation in Saint-Martin is more stable, but there are many regulations.
Why did you choose to open your second school in Saint-Martin? In 2011, I went skiing there, I really liked it and I went back several times. We are 3 partners and we seized the opportunity there was. It’s also an opportunity to have a spot to train because in France, it’s cold.
We went to the United States a lot, but you can only do water skiing there, whereas in Saint Martin you can really do something else besides training. To develop in terms of tourism, it’s great because with the right conditions and facilities in place, competitors can come with their families. For the children or the companions, it’s great, there is the beach, activities to do: surfing, diving, golf…
Do you offer the same activities in Maubuisson and Saint-Martin? At the school of Maubuisson, I offer all activities except: slalom, jumping and towed buoy because it is prohibited on the whole lake. We find the e babyski, the wake, the wakeskate, the foil, the monoski, the tricks…
In Saint-Martin, we have 2 slaloms with ideal conditions. We offer everything, from tricks to wakeboarding, wakeskating, with also the towed buoy. There is only leap that one does not make. Except the jump that we don’t do.
Afterwards, in Maubuisson, we have an associative part with a team of children in the year that we find at each start of the school year. We take part in competitions and internships. In summer, in July and August, it is rather touristy. Otherwise, it’s the regulars who come to the spot. We also welcome colonies several times in the summer which fill our days well.
While in Saint-Martin, it’s different, it’s a very tourist customers. During the school holidays, there are many French people who come to train in good conditions to prepare for the season.
We have 2 very different clienteles between the 2 spots, in Saint-Martin, it is a lot of seniors who come to train in the winter while in Maubuisson, we find more young people who come to spend a few days with their grandparents for example.
What do you want to convey to practitioners?
The sensations of sliding. Whether in Maubuisson or Saint-Martin, we have 100% success from the first lesson so in general they leave happy, the children leave with their diplomas. Having fun on the water when they discover a new activity and then if they want to join the club, it’s always a plus for us to have motivated children.
In your opinion, what are the advantages and disadvantages of your dual status as rider and entrepreneur?
We don’t get bored, there are plenty of things to do to develop. Sport on the one hand brings me ideas for my structures and vice versa. Both bring me a lot.
As for the downsides, I would say there is a lot of simultaneous work, because the two seasons are at the same time. When I’m in full competition, it’s also high season in Maubuisson and potentially high season in Saint-Martin because the months of July/August, even if it works very well in winter, are very touristy. So the month of August is likely to be complicated, because for my 2 structures as for training, it is high season.
What’s new? Since last year, we have developed the sunset sessions. We also have the children’s club which is our strong point in Maubuisson because we are the only year-round ski school with a team of children.
Who can come to the club? There is no real age! At the moment, there are 14 children between the ages of 6 and 15.
Membership for the year is accessible to all for 35 €, license included, outfits offered, internships, competitions, financial aid… We also take them to the French championships, because we are lucky to have mini partnerships with local merchants.
This year, we have a very big project for November or December 2021. We are currently looking for funds because we would like to bring them to the Saint-Martin spot for 8 days.
More information on the water ski and wakeboard schools managed by Laura Phily-Guyamier
Activities offered at Maubuisson for beginners or advanced: