Please select your home edition
Edition
Protector 728x90

Fascinating Road to Rio for 49er sailor Ben Rhodes

by Lindsey Bell on 24 Jul 2013
Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes, 49er Richard Langdon/British Sailing Team
During the week, as we near the anniversary of the 2012 Olympic Games 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.

Exmouth’s Ben Rhodes overcame numerous injury setbacks to qualify for his second Olympics in the 49er event with Stevie Morrison, where they finished fifth. The pair are back on the campaign trail for Rio 2016:

The Olympics feels a lot longer than a year ago to me.

The London 2012 cycle was massively different to Beijing for no reason more so than for three years of it I had to contend with a toe injury that kept breaking down, requiring surgery and interrupting our training schedule.

When we were training I would be dosed up on painkillers before I went out sailing and then again when I got back in as well as having to ice it for two hours every time. It made sailing not as much fun as it should have been.

I fractured the big toe initially in Palma and a bit of bone got into the joint.

You don’t realise just how much a big toe injury can impede you in sailing, but your body finds ways to avoid putting weight through it and so you twist in funny ways and get body imbalances, which leads to niggling injuries in other parts of your body.

Also on the 49er you are wearing soft shoes and running around the boat so your toe is never going to get complete rest.

Every time there was a gap in the schedule I would have an operation to tidy the toe up but it never solved the problem.

If I had known what I know about how much it would impact on our campaign, I maybe would have opted to have the major surgery needed to correct it straight away. But the prospect of taking six months out during an Olympic campaign, especially when you think you can manage the injury, is not an easy call.

We were selected late which meant we did not have much time to pull our campaign together in the way we would have ideally liked but I thought the time we did have we used really well.

When we reflected on what went wrong at the Beijing Games we had masses of time before the Games but did not use it well yet for London we did not have the time but the time we did have we used really effectively.

I am genuinely proud of that three-month period because we worked really hard and did very long hours but we were motivated to do it because it was the right things to be doing. We enjoyed it.

When it came to the regatta you could see that work had paid off because there were improvements and we got some good results. When we analysed our London 2012 results it was a couple of capsizes that did us, which almost makes it easier to deal with. Without those we would have won a bronze medal, and we were sailing where we probably should have been relative to the rest of the fleet. In Beijing we were just clutching at straws with where to go next when things went wrong but it never felt like that at London. That gave us something positive to take away.

I felt a lot more connected to the London 2012 Games than I did in China.

Being at a venue away from the main Olympic Park we watched the Games on the TV in China but you could not always relate it to being the same event you were competing in. The social media aspect, and the online and the extended media coverage of London made it all feel a lot closer to home.

I have got a lot of interests in a lot of different sports and I really enjoyed watching the kayaking and canoeing especially. I had met Richard Hounslow, who won silver with David Florence in the C2 slalom, before the Games so I had an inside interest in watching that and really enjoyed seeing Team GB win gold and silver in that event.

I got married at the end of September, which gave me something else to focus on straight after the Games. Then I had the major operation to bolt the bone in my big toe and I was not allowed to walk on it from the start of October to December. The bone had to fuse and that takes time.

It was so frustrating because it did not actually hurt but I could not do anything because I risked damaging the toe. It took a bit of time to get used to having a toe that does not bend anymore but I am completely pain-free now, which is all I could ask for. That period was the longest I had been out of a boat since I was about 11!

When it comes to Rio, Stevie and I have been doing this for 12 years and ultimately we have both got a mission to succeed and put in the hours, but we are also much more realistic. We are relatively a pretty old 49er pairing compared to some of the guys in the squad and I genuinely think we can still win World Championships but we will be playing it year by year.

The strength in the British 49er squad now is impressive. We have been lucky enough to be at the top of the pile for a while but last year was a real breakthrough year for Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign and Dave Evans and Ed Powys especially to start realising their potential.

Every team has a clicking point when they realise what they are capable of. Ours came at the 2006 World Championships where we won bronze, our first Worlds medal. It flicks your mind from hoping you can do it to believing you can do it. Some of the boys in the British 49er squad had that moment last year. They have got youth and enthusiasm on their side and we have experience plus the passion we all have.

It all makes for a potentially fascinating Road to Rio for British 49er sailing.
British Sailing Team

Ancasta Ker 40+ 660x82Barz Optics - Kids rangeZhik AkzoNobelb 660x82

Related Articles

Masters Games - Volvo and Olympic, father and son, sail two-hander
Report from Day 3 of the World Masters Games being sailed at Torbay Sailing Club in the Weta and Laser classes Former Flying Dutchman crew Murray Rae was keen to tackle the 2017 World Masters Games at Torbay, Auckland, with his Rome Olympics teammate. But when Ron Watson wasn’t available he was able to call on a veteran of seven America’s Cups and five round the world yacht races. The alternative also happened to be his son.
Posted on 26 Apr
Sailing World Cup Hyères –Day 2– Zegers and van Veen show how its done
Afrodite Zegers and Anneloes van Veen were unstoppable on day two, winning both Women's 470 races in convincing style Out of the 534 competitors from 52 nations racing across ten Olympic events, Open Kiteboarding and 2.4 Norlin OD, the Dutch team were the standout performers.
Posted on 26 Apr
2000 Sprint Championships – A success
The 2000 class was invited to take part in the 2017 RS Sprints held at Rutland Sailing Club over the weekend Unfortunately, only 4 2000s made the journey to the world class venue of Rutland Water SC. Two of the boats were seasoned 2000 circuit racers, Rich Hudson with son Ian (2374) and Kev O’Brien and son Jake (22558 Hurricane).
Posted on 26 Apr
Competitive action at RS400 Sprint Championships
A record thirty RS400s arrived at Rutland Sailing Club for the ever increasingly popular Sprint Championships. The wind did arrive, and in far greater strength than anyone dared hoped for to create some great racing. The round robin format meant that after three races, everyone had raced everyone else in the fleet.
Posted on 26 Apr
Magic Marine RS300 Sprint Championships at Rutland Sailing Club
In the Gold fleet, Rob Jones settled into a bit of a rhythm scoring back to back first places in races two and three. After a bit of a wait floating about in the sunshine the word of the race team came true and from nowhere a pleasant F2-3 arrived kicking the now 12 remaining boats into action, desperate to get a few qualifying races in before it decided to disappear again.
Posted on 26 Apr
RS100 Sprint Championship at Rutland Sailing Club
In race one, young Robert Richardson showed us all how to start, leading from the off and never in real danger Race two seemed to have elements of the Keystone Cops. National Champion Al Dickson got his act together and led from the off, unlike OCS Robert and an optimistic Greg Booth who thought he really did have an invisibility cloak, then when proven wrong could not find a space in which to return.
Posted on 26 Apr
RS Aero Open Meeting - Overall report
Eighteen sailors from across UK took part in RS Aero open meeting, sharing a tranquil lake with around a dozen Miracles Eighteen sailors from across the UK took part in Broadwater Sailing Club’s second annual RS Aero open meeting sponsored by SpeedSix, sharing a tranquil lake with around a dozen Miracles. Unfortunately no one was able to deliver any other miracles in the form of a decent breeze for race one.
Posted on 26 Apr
Cornish and Pic open the scoring in World Cup Series Hyeres
Ramshaw took the left track downwind and passed Cornish, who later admitted he had not seen the Oscar flag flying. Race one got started in a pleasant 9-11 knots with Oscar flag flying for free pumping. After a route up the middle right, Cornish squeezed round the top mark in the lead from Italy’s Filippo Baldassari and Henry Wetherall of Great Britain.
Posted on 25 Apr
Cornish takes first day Finn lead as Hyeres World Cup gets underway
The Finn talent was one of three British boats to sit inside the top three positions after the first day of competition Exmouth’s Cornish, who trained alongside Rio Olympic Champion Giles Scott in his Games build-up, won the opening race of the series in the heavyweight men’s fleet, but confessed that his victory had not been an entirely seamless display.
Posted on 25 Apr
Sailing World Cup Hyères – Laying down a marker
Over 500 sailors from 52 nations opened their quest for World Cup honours, personal best performances and bragging right In the 38 strong Women's Windsurfer fleet, Israel's Noga Geller came out flying with superb starts and speed. Feeling comfortable in the conditions, she snapped up the first two race wins.
Posted on 25 Apr