by Lindsey Bell
As we approach the anniversary of the 2012 Olympic Games this week, on 27 July, we’ll hear from members of the 2012 British Sailing Team who reflect on their own Games experiences, how they themselves were inspired by 2012, and on life and sailing since the London Olympic flame went out and the focus switched to Rio 2016.
Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor in action at the 2012 Olympics - The British Sailing Team in the Olympic and Paralympic Classes
Poole’s Lucy Macgregor today starts the first ever World Championship in the new Nacra 17 multihull class, which she switched to after her Women’s Match Racing event was removed from the Games programme. Lucy finished seventh at the 2012 Games, where she competed with younger sister Kate and Annie Lush:
In some ways it definitely doesn’t feel like a year has gone by since the Olympics, especially when you see clips on TV of the Games. In many ways it all feels like it was only a few months ago, but then when I think about the sailing and everything I’ve done since the Games it very quickly starts to feel like a long, long time ago!
The Olympics was an amazing experience, but I think a missed opportunity would definitely be how I see it in hindsight. The people that medalled definitely deserved to at that event, but there was such a good opportunity for Annie, Kate and I to win a medal that it does feel like we missed a trick a little bit. In the approach to the racing, maybe we needed to feel a bit more like we had nothing to lose, and maybe we were protecting our position a little bit the whole time, but at the same time I wouldn’t have done much differently either. Looking back at it, we still feel like we actually sailed the best we could in the quarter finals and, yes, we made mistakes, but I think realistically in that style of racing you’re always going to.
I have some great memories from the Olympics but the moment that really sticks in my mind was when we were on our way out for our first race on the first day of the regatta – we were second on the Nothe course after the Finns. As we were sailing out of Portland Harbour, we looked over to the Nothe and it was absolutely packed with spectators, who all looked just like little ants from where we were at the time! Sailing out to the course and the greeting we got from the crowd was just unbelievable, something we’re just not used to in sailing. We looked at each other and just said ‘right – let’s go for it!’. That felt like a huge moment.
It was great having that support from the public. That was a massive thing that all the athletes felt right through the Olympic Games – the support from the public and the way everyone got behind the Games was phenomenal and meant a huge amount. I hope that passion and support can continue.
Match racing was removed from the Olympic sailing programme after London. We knew that was the case going into the Olympic regatta and I have to say I didn’t give a whole lot of thought to what I would do and what classes I would sail after the Games. I knew that I’d want to carry on in one form or another, but I didn’t know what class that would be in, so for me it was quite a fun period after the Games trying to work that out.
Kate and I would’ve loved to have given the new 49erFX women’s skiff a go – but I think realistically we’ve both inherited the ‘short’ genes and we’d have always been compensating a little bit. Much as we’d have loved to carry on sailing together there wasn’t really the opportunity to do that and be competitive with the boats that were on offer for 2016.
It feels like I’ve done quite a lot this year since finishing the Games, but it’s been fun having the new challenge of sailing the new Nacra 17 multihull, which is the boat I’m now sailing with Tom Phipps. It has been a completely new challenge because I had absolutely no experience whatsoever of multihulls going into it. It’s great being able to approach something fresh like that – you kind of miss that a little bit when you’re campaigning across the four years because after a while it does become a bit similar every day. When I got in the Nacra, all of a sudden it felt like I was getting so much better every day, so there’s been quite a refreshing feel to it.
I really miss sailing with Annie and Kate, but at the same time it’s setting up a new campaign with Tom has been a good challenge. It’s been hard, for sure, but we get on really well and I think we’re quite similar in some ways. That’s great, but I think it also means we also have to push harder to get every ounce out of our team that we can. We’ve got a lot of learning to do in that respect which I’m looking forward to.
This week, one year on from the Olympics, we’re out in Holland at the first ever World Championships in the Nacra 17 class. It’s a big event for us, for sure. It’s our biggest event of the year and one that we really want to perform in and to sail the best we can. In terms of where that will be overall in the fleet, it’s impossible to tell in some ways – half of the fleet that will be there we won’t have seen before. That doesn’t mean to say they won’t be any good! It’s very hard to say in advance that we want to be top five or top ten, or top twenty or whatever, because we don’t really know what to expect! Within our team we know how we can sail, and so I think although it sounds a bit clichéd, Tom and I have really just got to focus on that, do the best we can do and see where that puts us overall ultimately.
It’s scary how quickly Rio is coming round. It’s scary how much it feels like there is to do and how little time there is to do it. But I’m excited. I think there are some huge opportunities in this class so I’m really looking to trying to make a big impact in it. I’ve been out to Rio before, and it had a great atmosphere – the Volvo Ocean Race boats were in port and the sense of a big event being on there gave you a feeling of what it could be like during the Olympics.
I think they’ll do an awesome job and I’m really looking forward to it!