by Lindsey Bell
Penny Clark - Team GBR Laser Radial
Day four of the Olympic sailing regatta in Qingdao sees three classes rested and two new classes take to the water. While the Yngling, Finn and 49er competitors get a break from racing. The Laser and Laser Radial classes join the 470 and RS:X on Tuesday 12 August, with the Radial making its Olympic debut in China, replacing the Europe as the women’s single-handed boat.
They are the most basic boats of the Olympic Classes, and are strict one-design so, as with the RS:X windsurfers, every boat is identical, is supplied by the organisers, and cannot have technical tweaks or equipment changes to gain a speed advantage.
For Team GB’s Laser sailor Paul Goodison, this event will be about trying to exorcise the ghosts of his first Olympic experience in Athens
There he finished in an agonising fourth place, just outside of the medals.
The Qingdao waters may be tough, but that hasn’t stopped Goodison making his mark in Fushan Bay, having won both Test Events on the Olympic racetrack in the run-up to the Games itself. Only one other sailor can make that claim – Britain’s triple Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie.
The 30-year-old Goodison is ready to face the ultimate China challenge.
'It’s like ‘at last we’re finally here!’ It just feels like you’re training and training and training and at a point you just want the event to be next week because you’re ready.
'It is just a relief to get here and be able to get on with what you’ve been training for.'
Although sailing alone in the Laser, Goodison firmly believes that teamwork plays a big part in his, and the sailing team’s success. 'I think we’re the best sailing team to be involved in and be part of; just the fact that a lot of us have grown up together and come through the system together.
'Everyone in the squad is great friends, we all want each other to win and I think it’s that winning mentality and attitude towards each other that really pushes us forward.'
Penny Clark, the eldest of Team GB’s sailors at 33, makes her Games debut in Qingdao and recalls getting the Olympic bug at an early age.
'When I was sailing as a young child back home in the West Midlands, I always dreamed of going to the Olympic Games and at that time there wasn’t a women’s class but it’s something I’d always look at and look to other Olympians and think that would be amazing to do
'I guess it’s just that dream that lives on in the back of your mind and if you’re given a chance to realise your dream you’ve just got to grab it and put everything into it and make sure you try to achieve it.'
Clark, who earned a bronze medal at the 2006 Test Event in Qingdao, is a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy and in 2006 was granted two years’ leave to campaign full-time for the Games.
'I’ve just been really, really lucky that they have allowed me to have two years off to pursue my ambition and hopefully they feel it’s been justified in the fact that I have been selected and am competing at the Games.'
Racing gets underway at 06:00 UK time on Tuesday morning, as follows:
Course A: Laser and Laser Radial (2 races each)
Course B: RS:X Men and RS:X Women (2 races each)
Course C: 470 Men and 470 Women (2 races each)
Team GBR - The names and the faces - http://www.sail-world.com/UK/Team-GBR---The-names-and-the-faces/47353
Qingdao-Racing-Schedule - http://www.sail-world.com/UK/Qingdao-Racing-Schedule/47381