sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery

 

Sail-World.com : Why Britain rules the Olympic sailing waves

Why Britain rules the Olympic sailing waves

'Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson from Great Britain racing in the Star class on Day 3 of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta'    onEdition ©    Click Here to view large photo

Robin Scott-Elliot of The Independent gets a rare look at how the British Olympic Sailing system operates - producing five medals from the Sydney Olympic Regatta in 2000 and six from Qingdao, China in 2008, including four gold medals.

Britain was top country at the recent Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta in the 2012 Olympic venue of Weymouth - winning six medals in the ten Olympic events and two medals from three Paralympic events.

He writes:

Funding has helped Britain's Olympic sailors enjoy gold but just as important is the fact that they do everything – from booking flights to scrubbing the hull.

Iain Percy sits easily in a large leather sofa. He points out the other teams gathered in the noisy yacht club bar. Danes, French, Czechs, Brazilians, Germans, Italians, Australians, Americans and others loll around; outside, row after row of boats bob in the morning sunshine on the marina's gentle waters. Beyond the marina's guard, conditions are not much different; there is barely a breath of wind and for the sailors that means downtime.

The Brazilians – one half of whom is Britain's old Olympic adversary, Robert Scheidt – get the Percy blessing, but he is less taken by the occupants of the French boat. 'Oh yeah, nobody likes the French,' confirms Giles Scott, one of the rising stars of Team GB, at dinner later that night.

Percy's star has risen. He already has two Olympic gold medals – even if he cannot actually remember where they are. 'Umm, at mum and dad's?' he wonders in his only moment of doubt during our time together. Now, once again in productive partnership with Andrew Simpson, Percy is strong favourite to add a third at next year's London Olympics, and in so doing earn a lofty status as one of Britain's great Olympians.

Ben Ainslie (GBR), Weymouth, 10th June 2011 - will he win a fourth Olympic Gold medal in the Finn class in 2012?. -  Ian Roman?nid=84689  
The Majorca regatta signalled the start of the countdown to London, or to be more precise Weymouth, as that is where the sailing events will take place – in the home waters of the English Channel. The French will not like that.

They are on those waters this week, in the Sail for Gold regatta which began on Monday, another key staging post en route to the Games. Sailors' lives, their sporting ones at any rate, are run on four-year cycles with the Olympics providing the most emphatic of full stops. Campaigners as experienced as Percy and Simpson will halve that; do their own thing for a time, America's Cup projects, crewing, earning – cashing in effectively on their Olympic achievements to pay the rent.

For most Olympic sports money matters, pennies are counted every step of the way towards the podium, and sailing is the most expensive. No other sport has such costly equipment. Comparisons with Formula One are drawn and it is not only because of high technological fiddlings in the quest for an edge over opponents but also because of the need to husband money in what is a financially draining sport, and – here's the difference from F1 – a sport that is far from flooded with money.

Team GB is the best equipped, resourced, coached and managed (and successful – there is a connection), but it is the sailors themselves who juggle the day-to-day running of their programs. How do we get the boat from Weymouth to Palma? Where are we going to stay? What needs doing to the boat? Who is going to jump in the water and scrub the bottom? And above all, how much will it cost?

'We have to manage everything from top to bottom,' says Percy. 'We are chairman, manager and players – and groundsman. We manage ourselves, work out our budget – if we had an amazing sponsorship deal we could get someone to come and help with our boat but our bank account needs to go on sails, development, the list goes on. But being involved in all that is important.'

The medals ceremony at the end of the Majorca regatta – Percy and Simpson, to no one's surprise, won the Star class – was marked by British itchy feet. They had another boat to catch. Many of them were booked on the midnight ferry back to the Spanish mainland and had to heave the boats on to trailers and head for the port. Ahead lay a long drive back home. 'We do everything,' explains Percy, 'from the travel, booking flights, booking hotels, transportation, driving the boat back after events. Beginning to end, you do everything.'


Paul Goodison (Gold medalist in the Laser class at the 2008 Olympic regatta) is carried from water by team mates including Team Manager Stephen Park and triple Gold medalist Ben Ainslie -  Steve Arkley?nid=84689  
Team GB is run by Steven Parks, a intense Glaswegian with piercing eyes with whom comparisons with Alex Ferguson are impossible to resist. For a start there is the unequalled record of success. Then there is an obvious will to win, a (good-natured) suspicion of the media and an immaculate, forensic attention to detail.

'We want people to have responsibility for their own programme,' says Parks. 'There are financial restrictions but on the other side of the coin there are good reasons why they should do that, look after the equipment, know where they are going – get there! Rather than just turning up and playing. It gives it a context.'

There is a sense that Percy would be bored if it was simply a matter of getting in the boat and sailing. He appears to enjoy the micro-management of a project that has a budget in the region of £500,000 per Olympic cycle. UK Sport funding provides a top level individual annual award – in effect for medal contenders – of £27,328, although that figure will decline the greater the levels of sponsorship an athlete attracts. The sailors are well backed by Skandia – who in turn see the sailors, tanned, polite, successful and largely middle class (like sports such as golf, sailors from the wrong side of the tracks are unsurprisingly rare) as the ideal ambassadors for their brand – but the level of funding is closely guarded.

'We are lucky in our backing – we cover our costs, but we have never made any money out of it,' says Percy, who lives in Valencia but is moving back to the UK for Games preparation. 'We plan how we will pay for it – and if we can't we have to find more money or change our programme. I'm not down – I'm neutral, neutral for 12 years of Olympic sport.'

Iain Percy and Andrew 'Bart' Simpson (GBR) Mens Keelboat (Star) opening day of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta. Weymouth -  Ian Roman?nid=84689  
For the sailors there is an expectation about London, not least from Parks himself. They are the host nation and the world's No 1 sailing nation. After the Beijing Games, Britain's most successful on the water for a century, Parks declared the target for 2012 was to win every event. Percy and Simpson snatched a stomach-churning gold in the final race in 2008 and anything other than a return to the top of the podium next year would be a huge surprise, and a major disappointment.

'I know with my mates how much more interest there is in London,' says Percy. 'A regatta like this, none of my friends would have cared before, but they're all on the phone, texting me. I'm like, 'Where've you been for the last 10 years?'

Percy's mobile rings. It is Ben Ainslie, the best Olympic sailor Britain has produced. 'You only ring when you're winning,' quips Simpson. There is an easy camaraderie among them. Percy relays the message then they discuss who will have first call on one of the coaches. The team is impressively supported through coaching, physiotherapists, a psychologist, a meteorologist – there are similarities between the sailors and the British cyclists in being the envy of their sporting world and there is healthy rivalry between the two teams. Majorca is a favoured winter destination of the cyclists too, and occasionally their paths cross in the island's mountains on training rides – cycling is favoured by the sailors for fitness – and impromptu races break out much to the fury of coaches from either side.

For the rest of this story click here?nid=84689




by Robin Scott-Elliot

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=84689

10:12 AM Mon 13 Jun 2011 GMT






Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on


Related News Stories:

03 Nov 2013  Lijia Xu ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year 2012 - THAT Speech
20 Aug 2013  Mat Belcher – 17 in a row - 'The harder I work, the luckier I get'
22 Jul 2013  2012 Olympic Games - Stevie Morrison one year on
22 Jul 2013  2012 Olympic Games - Lucy Macgregor one year on
03 Jun 2013  Ainslie: Close to quitting sailing after Andrew 'Bart' Simpson's death
31 May 2013  A Tribute to Bart
29 Dec 2012  Ainslie knighted in New Year Honours, five others recognised
28 Nov 2012  2012 Paralympic Games a winner in global TV ratings
21 Nov 2012  London Paralympic Games debrief to start in Rio
02 Nov 2012  2012 Olympics: The Medalists thoughts on Kites and Windsurfers
MORE STORIES ...

News - USA and the World

Volvo Ocean Race: The Traemeister's onboard gym session *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz
On Board Reporter, Brian Carlin, claimed he did not know what a Gym before he set foot aboard Team Vestas Wind. And then compounded his issues by saying that he thought 'Gym' was pronounced 'Gime'. Fitness freak Trae has taken on the invidious task of getting the Irish OBM up to a passable fitness level, believed to be 100 push-ups. ... [more]  

The new application from PredictWind for Mac and PC is revolutionary for accessing weather data when offshore. Accessing GRIB files, Weather Routing, GMDSS forecasts and Satellite Imagery is now a simple task with the unique and user friendly interface. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race: Thanksgiving at Sea *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz
Although they may be far from home, old traditions aren't forgotten as the US crew aboard Team Alvimedica celebrate one of the great traditions. And the non-US crew partake of their first Thanksgiving, off the coast of Madagascar. There's some of the traditional fare, adapted for the Volvo Ocean Race, and some messages and mementos from home. ... [more]  

2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - The official launch of Syd Fischer’s super maxi, Ragamuffin 100, will take place next Tuesday, 2 December 2014, at Sydney City Marine Complex, Rozelle. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race: Mapfre takes lead in Leg 2 as break point looms *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz
The latest position report from Volvo Ocean Race Control has given the lead in leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race to Mapfre (Iker Martinez). She takes over the lead from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), who has led from soon after the start of Leg 2, a week ago. ... [more]  

Over 270 sailors from 38 nations have enjoyed a mixed range of conditions since their arrival early on in the week. The athletes have used the time to acclimatise to their surroundings, different sea states and a variety of wind strengths. But now, the practice time is over with racing across the ten Olympic and open kiteboarding fleets to kick start the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup Final. ... [more]  

VOR 2014-15: Some of them also wake up in the middle of the night to check the latest position reports of Team Brunel. The crew is aware of that, including our skipper Bouwe Bekking. 'We are not the only ones looking out for the position reports. We know that the home front is eyeballing every move of us. Our wives, children, girlfriends, friends and supporters live this race as extreme as we.' ... [more]  

ISAF Sailing World Cup Final 2014: Among the ten Olympic series represented, Franck Cammas will be participating in the event for the first time aboard a Nacra 17, this time teaming up with the young, light Alizée Desbordes. Having remained in France to satisfy her professional obligations, Sophie de Turckheim will be following the performance of her favourite helm closely. ... [more]  

ISAF Sailing World Cup Final: Bjorn Allansson (SWE), Briana Provancha (USA), Sofia Bekatorou (GRE), Lara Vadlau (AUT) and Anton Paz (ESP) have fully embraced the Abu Dhabi and Emirati life, grasping the opportunities available with both hands. 'There are so many welcoming and friendly people here,' explained Provancha at the opening press conference. ... [more]  

Leading sailing marine electronics manufacturer B&G has been appointed an Official Race Supplier for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014/15. B&G will also be providing full electronic navigation systems, tactical software and race support to the organisers of the 2014 Volvo Ocean Race, which began on the October 4th in Alicante, Spain. ... [more]  

If you missed this week's edition of Adventures of a Sailor Girl, then hear the replay below. Adventures of a Sailor Girl #31 - Pathways and passion! ... [more]  

Star Sailors League Finals: This Bahaman event is about much more than just sailing, however: it promises a blistering week of high emotion, passion and dazzlingly action that will deliver a unique display of sporting prowess from a slew of champions. All in an easy-to-grasp and see format that even non-sailing folk will understand perfectly. ... [more]  

America's Cup: Sweden to host World Series regatta in 2015 by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz
Artemis Racing and the City of Gothenburg are set to host an America’s Cup World Series event during the last weekend of August (28th - 30th) 2015. Racing will take place either on the Gota River close to the city centre, or at Långedrag, and the race village will be located in Frihamnen. ... [more]  

2014 RORC Transatlantic Race - The inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race, in association with the International Maxi Association (IMA), starts on Saturday 29th November from Lanzarote bound for Grenada, 2,995 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean. All of the competing yachts are now safely moored in Puerto Calero Marina and last night an informal welcome drinks reception was well received with crew ... [more]  

2014 Chicago Match Cup - At the end of Chicago Match Race Center's sixth season, the numbers show how well CMRC reached both into and beyond the Great Lakes sailing community. CMRC hosted a total of 12 graded events from May to October. Of these, the five Grade Three regattas were the best attended featuring 23 skippers from nine countries. ... [more]  

2014 Extreme Sailing Series - Act 8 - Tom Slingsby, Australian Olympic Laser Gold medalist, and member of Oracle Team USA, has signed up as skipper of Oman Air, one of two Oman Sail Extreme Sailing teams, for the final act of the Extreme Sailing Series in Sydney, Australia (11-14 December). ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race: Big spread in fleet as Abu Dhabi leads *Feature by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz
Abu Dhabi (Ian Walker) continues to lead the Volvo Ocean Race. She is the most westerly of the fleet as they approach the coast of Madagascar. In a video, Abu Dhabi skipper Ian Walker explains the weather hazards of the second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. ... [more]  

ISAF Sailing World Cup Final 2014: With a packed crowd of local dignitaries, VIPS and competitors, the ISAF President welcomed the world’s finest Olympic sailors and kiteboarders who will be battling it out on Abu Dhabi's waters. 'It’s a great honour for me to be here today because we have a very important regatta which will be the future of our sport,' explained Croce. ... [more]  

Sir Keith Mills GBE announced that America’s Cup Racing is to return to British waters when the America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) takes place in Portsmouth 23-26 July 2015 and 21–24 July 2016. The second European location is expected to be Cagliari in Italy, where Luna Rossa Challenge have their base. ... [more]  

Chairman and founder of the Clipper Race, Sir Robin Knox Johnston said: 'The Clipper Race is very pleased to welcome Hyde Sails back on board as Official Sails Supplier for our fourth consecutive race partnership. Hyde Sails evolved with us when we introduced the new Clipper 70 fleet in the last race and we were very pleased with how well the new sail wardrobes stood up to almost a year' ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race: Welcome to Brian's Gime *Feature by Brian Carlin, Team Vestas Wind, At sea
The irrepressible Brian Carlin, the On Board Reporter for Team Vestas Wind is on fitness program on board, under the watchful eye of race veteran Tony Rae. Today as my personal trainer, friend and fellow shipmate we accomplished a goal, 70 press-ups. I’m sure to some it maybe easy but I ask anyone of you right now sitting at your desk, hit the floor and give me 70 on the spot. ... [more]  

Two of the crew from Overall race leader, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing look at leg 2 and the race overall. Here are the latest blogs (unedited) from On Board Reporter Matt Knighton, along with an onboard video with Simon Fisher (navigator) musing on what is required to win the race, and skipper Ian Walker on how Leg 2 has panned out for them so far. ... [more]  

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2014 - A new deal for corinthians by Bruce Montgomery – Rolex Sydney Hobart media
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2014: Since 1945 starters in the Sydney-Hobart have raced the equivalent of two circumnavigations of the world, almost 45,000 nautical miles. They have been drawn from the seven seas; they come from all corners of the world; they board boats that range from 100-feet supermaxis to boats littler larger than the Owl and the Pussycat’s. ... [more]  

2016 Hansa Class Combined World and International Championships - The International Hansa Class Association has announced that the 2016 Hansa Class Combined World and International Championships will be held in the Netherlands. ... [more]  

Most of the nearly 300 sailors on 216 boats in 21 classes in Alamitos Bay Yacht Club's 67th Turkey Day Regatta came to enjoy sunny sailing in mild conditions, which the weekend delivered beautifully. By tradition, the winners received turkeys, not trophies, but for a few others it was another important stopover en route to Rio de Janeiro and the 2016 Olympics. They hope. ... [more]  

Everyone was expecting a battle between Besson and Cammas. In the end, Morgan Lagravière took the Champion’s title of the seventh edition of the St-Barth Cata Cup with a near-perfect journey. The Marché U day ended with a friendly race to Public. ... [more]  

Robert Scheidt talks to us just a few days before the Nassau start of the Star Sailors League Final. How do you feel inside? I feel very calm. Myself and Bruno have tons of experience with the Star. We’ve been competing together for 10 years now. ... [more]  

The US Optimist Dinghy Association (USODA) has selected Pensacola Yacht Club (PYC) to host their 2015 National Championships. This championship will be a week-long sailing spectacular on Pensacola Bay sailed by International Optimist Dinghy sailors from eight to 15 years old. ... [more]  

More than forty five years since his historical circumnavigation, legendary Clipper Race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, 75, continues to prove inspirational to adventurers around the globe. Sir Robin, the oldest entrant in the 3,542 mile Route du Rhum, finished third in his Rhum class into La Pointe À Pitre, Guadeloupe. ... [more]  

With Olympic heroes and World Champions in their numbers at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi, UAE, local children are being inspired to take up the sport. By utilising the star names on show at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final, the Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club, hosts of the regatta, are using the event to promote the sport in the Emirati capital. ... [more]  

The last day of the Airwaves Noumea PWA Dream Cup saw a grandstand finale to the 2014 PWA World Tour as the morning showers finally cleared to allow the wind to fill in and the respective titles to be decided. With the racing beginning later than scheduled the title race came down to one final race, which would ultimately decide the title. ... [more]  

Sometime during last night’s moonless gloom in the Volvo Ocean Race, the masthead lights of Dongfeng and Mapfre appeared to the west, maybe right where they would have been if we had jibed with the fleet the previous day. To say that was a relief is an understatement-that we are back in touch, back in the fray near the front, it keeps everyone motivated and pushing a little bit harder. ... [more]  

Olympic medal-winning skipper Ian Walker, from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) – the emirate’s Volvo Ocean Race contesting squad – recently took time out of his hectic schedule while he was in Cape Town, as the team prepared for Leg 2 of the race to catch-up with students at The British School Al Khubairat via a video call. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race – Team SCA’s super fan
ISAF Sailing World Cup Final: Abu Dhabi Sailing Instructions published
ISAF Sailing World Cup Final - Italian 49erFX duo ready for action
St Barth Cata Cup day 3
Volvo Ocean Race: Racing between a Rock and a Hard Place
Volvo Ocean Race - Position report at: 24 Nov 0700 UTC
2014 RC44 Championship Tour trophy – Video highlights
Volvo Ocean Race - Position report at: 23 Nov 1930 UTC
Volvo Ocean Race - Position report at: 23 Nov 0748 UTC
Gladwell's Line: The America's Cup is now Bermuda's Cup? *Feature
VX ONE Winter Series - Norris and Family earn first weekend victory
RC44 Oman Cup - Nika wins and Team Aqua clinch their fourth RC44 title
18ft Skiffs: Club Championship, Cordukes Clubhouse Trophy - Race three
Volvo Ocean Race: On board with Abu Dhabi - torn sail and where to go? *Feature
2014 Argo Group Gold Cup - Bermuda shines
2014 Turkey Day Regatta – Day 1
Airwaves Noumea PWA Dream Cup - Delphine Cousin officially world champ
Volvo Ocean Race: A man's got to do what a man's got to do
RC44 Championship Tour - A great sailing day on the Gulf of Oman
Sail-World Team holds first Continental Conference at METS
ISAF Sailing World Cup Final - Open Formula Kiteboarding event preview   
Volvo Ocean Race: Fleet heads into the Southern Ocean + Videos *Feature   
ISAF Sailing World Cup Final - Set to be an 'experience of a lifetime'   
America's Cup: Source named in Bermuda venue leak *Feature   
2014 RC44 Oman Cup - Challenging day + Videos   
Volvo Ocean Race: A bumpy, hard driving ride in the Southern Ocean   
EPA punts on renewable fuel standard   
Yates Cup: US supermaxi Rio100 wins first offshore race + Video *Feature   
Airwaves Noumea PWA Dream Cup - Men’s title race takes a twist   
RC44 Oman Cup - Consistency hard to come by   
Volvo Ocean Race - Discomfort takes over for Team Alvimedica   
Volvo Ocean Race - Rapid change for Team SCA   
Viper 640 event at Lake Garda - 22-26th June 2015   
British Cycling grows by over 500%, can sailing do the same?   
GC32 Racing Tour 2015 - Dates and venues   
Class 40-footers to be featured in 2015 Annapolis-to-Newport Race   
Spectacular performance by Bakewell-White maxi early in first race *Feature   
Airwaves Noumea PWA Dream Cup - Big strides for Cousin and Moussilmani   
America's Cup: Team New Zealand responds to Venue rumours *Feature   
ORC reveals rule improvements for 2015   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL WAS US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT