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Robert Scheidt – Nine time Laser World Champion - Back to the Future

by Rob Kothe on 2 May 2014
Robert Scheidt (BRA) shown here in action and celebrating after winning the 2013 Laser World Championship. Lloyd Images/Oman Sail©
Back in the Laser class heading into Rio is 41 year old Brazilian Robert Scheidt - who won two Gold Medals and a silver in the Laser class and a Silver and Bronze in the Star class over five Olympic Regattas, along with nine Laser World Championships and three Star class World Championships. He is campaigning for Rio de Janerio Olympics in 2016.

He has been living on Lake Garda in Italy for the last four years with his Lithuanian wife, Gintar? (nee Volungevi?i?t?) Olympic Laser Radial Beijing 2008 Silver medal winner and their two sons.

Sail-World talked to Scheidt during the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyeres.

‘We have got all kind of conditions on Lake Garda. It is pretty good for training actually and we are in Europe so there is not so much travelling like when I used to live in Brazil.

‘For Rio my first option was always the Star but once the Star got kicked out of the Olympics it was a big shame but I still had some fire inside me to do more Olympics in Brazil so I went back to the boat I sailed in for 15 years which was the Laser. I never had a problem keeping the body weight around 80/82 kilos. My I knew it was hard ask because I have a lot more age than my competitors but I am still feeling good. My body is feeling good.

‘I think Rio is a place that will require a lot of experience to race there and I think if it was in a windy place I would have not much of a chance but in Rio I think I can compete.

‘I have been 13 months back in the boat. I am not taking so much notice of the ranking because I know that at this stage of my career I cannot do all the regattas. I have to choose the regattas I want to do and try to focus on those one. Obviously it is nice to be in the top of the ranking but that’s not my ultimate goal. My goal is to do well at the World Championships and qualify for the Olympics.

It’s interesting watching the young generation of Laser sailors.

Tom Burton and his Australian team mates are coming from a very solid system. Burton was sailing already with Slingsby for many years and he has great coaching from Michael Blackburn so they come through a very solid group of sailors and they improve very fast so he is now probably the more consistent guy in the fleet I would say in the last five regattas.

Also you have Andy Maloney who has been doing really well on the windy days. Some other guys also, Tonci the Croatian, the French guy, the Dutch guy. The Laser has always been tough. What I see at the moment nobody is dominating. There is not a name like Slingsby who was winning every regatta. Now you have the top guys changing the top spot which is healthy I think. It is good for the class.

The gold fleet, like we raced the last two days, it’s the toughest you can get. If you don’t get a clear start even a top guy can get a 25 like I did myself. Everybody is fit. Everybody is working hard and the level has been going up and up each year.

I have age against me but I have lots of experience. Experience is not something you can buy from one day to the other so hopefully I can use it in some key moments of big events and most important thing is that I am still enjoying the feeling of competing and the feeling of hitting the water on a Laser and I still have the fire inside of me.

I am not doing it just thinking about a medal. I am doing it because I still enjoy coming to events, to meet the young guys and to be able to compete and to have this feeling one more time is a great chance to be doing it at 41 years old.

Asked about the pollution in Rio Scheidt commented ‘The pollution is not something new in the Guanabarra Bay. We have had this problem for many, many years. I have been sailing there for 20 years and we also have seen polluted waters.

‘For the Pan America Games in 2007 they did a provisional cleaning of the water. They kept boats on the water to try to take most of the garbage so in the end we didn’t have much problem at the Pan Am games with the plastic bags and so on and I think something similar will happen this year. They won’t have time to clear the water because it is a big volume of water inside the Bay.

‘The Bay is huge and when it rains it brings all the garbage from the mountains down. I guess the solution will be a provisional solution one more time with better boom gates on the rivers.

‘The most concern is the plastic bags because it stops the boats and the athlete feels very angry with this kind of situation when you have something stuck on hull or appendage.

‘The organisers and regatta managers are pushing hard to already this year, the test event, to install those boats, boom gates and cleaning boats.

‘The advantage is that we have the Olympics in the winter months which doesn’t rain. If we had Olympics in January in the middle of summer we would have more rain and that makes more water dirtier.

But back to sailing….

Here is Scheidt’s an amazing record

In 1995, he won his first Laser World Title, in Tenerife, Spain. In 1996, his first Olympic Gold Medal in Atlanta, in the Laser Class. He won also in that year his second Laser World Championship, in Cape Town, South Africa and again in 1997, in Algarrobo, Chile.

In 2000, after his fourth World Title, in Cancún, Mexico, he was expected to win Olympic gold in Sydney, but her finished with a Silver behind Ben Ainslie (GBR). His fifth world title came in 2001, in Cork, Ireland and his sixth in 2002, in Cape Cod, United States.

In 2004, he won the Olympic Laser Gold Medal in Athens and won his seventh World Title in Bitez, Turkey, his eighth Laser World Title came in 2005, in Fortaleza, Brazil.

After this win, he switched to the two-person racing keelboat Star Class, along with Bruno Prada.

They won the Star class Worlds in 2007, in Portugal and a silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. They won the Star Class World championship in 2011 (Perth, Australia) and in 2012 (Hyeres, France)

Then after a return to the Laser class won his ninth Laser World Championship in Muscat, Oman, 2013.

Now we need to watch this space… but there is no doubt that the fairy tale ending is Olympic Gold in Rio 2016

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