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

Today, Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) took to the water for the first time from their temporary base in Southampton, sailing their foiling AC45. The boat originally raced under BAR colours during the America’s Cup World Series in 2012-13, and has subsequently been modified to fly on hydrofoils. ... [more]  

The calm weather returned on day five of the La Torche PWA Grand Slam as the wave sailors recovered from yesterday’s punishing, but brilliant, conditions. After a chilly start, with the thermometer reading just five degrees celsius, the temperature soon rose with the appearance of the sun, making for another stunning autumn day. ... [more]  

Day five of the Rolex Middle Sea Race has proved a day of reckoning for the competing fleet. The forecast strong northwesterly wind has arrived and consistently blown over 25 knots with gusts exceeding 40 knots. The effect has been to catapult the previously slow moving yachts towards the finish line in Malta. ... [more]  

A day and a night of uncertainty - later, the Doldrums will come to an end for the Volvo Ocean Race teams. By tomorrow morning, the fleet should be sailing safely in the southeasterly trade winds. So – who won this equatorial lottery? What was the best place to cross this convergence zone, where two hemispheres and two weather systems collide? ... [more]  

Known for erratic light airs alternating with sudden gusts that can last a minute or an hour from the giant unstable vertical clouds, the Doldrums (aka more officially the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone) are the unavoidable low-point of leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race for the determined men on Dongfeng. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15. Onboard Team Alvimedica. The synopsis is pretty straightforward: we are stuck in the Doldrums. Stuck, and stuck real good. All things considered, yesterday was actually pretty decent. We had a quick morning rainsquall that was able to power us south through the first line of ITCZ clouds already towering above our heads by 10AM. ... [more]  

Rolex Middle Sea Race - Artie gunning for glory by Media Royal Malta Yacht Club
Lee Satariano's Maltese J/122, Artie has emerged as the hot favourite to become the overall winner of the 2014 Rolex Middle Sea Race. However, at 16:00 CET, Artie was still 80 miles from the finish and the Mistral storm is still raging. In addition, there are several yachts behind Artie that could still claim the overall prize. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15, Onboard Team SCA. Today I would like to share another perspective with you. Given the kind messages from Team SCA followers that we have been receiving onboard (thank you!), it would seem daily reports from our onboard reporter Miss Halloran and our onshore media crew have been doing a wonderful job of sharing our journey thus far. ... [more]  

The 17th edition of the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship took place from 15-18 October in San Francisco, USA. Hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club, the 2014 Rolex Farr 40 Worlds welcomed 19 international entrants - comprising teams from Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Turkey and the United States. ... [more]  

After two days of intense racing at the 2014 RS:X Youth Worlds in Clearwater, both fleets have completed a full schedule of six light-wind races, and they’ve earned their lay day! Very light and shifty winds were forecast for the day, and it was a nice surprise to see a seven knot side-off breeze fill in early from the North. ... [more]  

Rolex Middle Sea Race - Big breeze and lumpy seas by Media Royal Malta Yacht Club
There are 92 yachts still racing in the Rolex Middle Sea Race. The expected frontal system arrived around Midnight last night at the northwest corner of the course. Reports of storm force winds and big seas have been received by the Race Committee and 25 yachts had officially retired from the race by 15:00 CET on Wednesday 22 October. ... [more]  

Justin 'Judd' Goldman was 17 years old when he suffered a disabling bone disease. After realizing that there were few sports that he could participate in he discovered sailing. Over the next 58 years he competed successfully in many races throughout the world. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race: Blogs from the Boats - Leg 1, Day 10 plus Videos *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.nz/com
Several of the On Board Reporters aboard, provide their unique views of Leg 1, Day 10 of the Volvo Ocean Race - in text, images and video: You know when you try to stick two positive magnets together and regardless as to how close you get them they never touch? Well, the ITCZ is a bit like that. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race: Leg 1 turns inside out in Doldums *Feature by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz
As reported earlier Leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race would seem to have gone from being a tightly fought contest to being a procession to Cape Town. Even though only 40% of the course has been sailed, the distance between the boats are significant (other than the two lead boats) and look set to increase. ... [more]  

Student Yachting World Cup - After those days of sun and light air, the weather was upside-down with a cloudy sky threatening us of heavy shower at any time and a strong wind fluctuating from 15 knots to 25 knots! Two windward-leeward races took place today as the wind became far too heavy in the early afternoon. The 13th race began this morning: a second start occurred under black flag. ... [more]  

2014 Argo Group Gold Cup - Over the last few days there have been frantic phone calls between travel agents from competitors at the Argo Group Gold Cup, the sixth stage and the oldest event on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. Over Friday night and into Saturday the Category Three Hurricane Gonzalo passed directly over Bermuda pummelling it with 100+ knot winds. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race: Big gains for two boats in Doldrums *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz
Two boats have made big gains in the Doldrums, with the western-most competitors apparently not stopping and sailing though the convergence zone between northern and southern hemispheres, without dropping below 8kts. Team Brunel and Abh Dhabi Ocean Racing have both made big gains on the rest of the fleet - and the two easternmost boats - Team Vestas Wind and Mapfre, in particular. ... [more]  

In spite of Hurricane Gonzalo's thrashing of the Onion Patch last week, the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and the people of Bermuda are ready to host the 2014 Argo Group Gold Cup, Stage 6 of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour (AWMRT). All 20 teams have arrived safely from their corners of the world and will practice for a day and race on Wednesday. ... [more]  

While the Renaissance Re Junior Gold Cup always offers opportunities for young people to have new experiences, coping with Hurricane Gonzalo offered the 14 competitors traveling from overseas to Bermuda a hurdle that strengthened their respect for this island nation. Many of the 14 competitors spent layover time in either hotels or airports and some are now guests in homes without electricity. ... [more]  

Dynamic Stability Systems welcomes last week’s decision by IMOCA to place no further restrictions on its class rule. This permits both the six new IMOCA 60s currently under construction, as well as the existing fleet, to be fitted with the lateral lifting foils which DSS has spent the last decade pioneering. ... [more]  

Groupe Beneteau today announced its sponsorship of the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider and ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami. Groupe Beneteau is the world's leading yacht builder, and will now become a significant presence in high-performance sailing with its support of both the US national sailing team and North America's premier Olympic and Paralympic classes regatta. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15. It’s the place where the northern and southern winds meet, where a sailing race can be won or lost in an instant. And with its complex and confusing conditions, lack of breeze, and stifling heat – it’s also a place that most sailors can’t wait to see the back of. But there is one good thing about the Doldrums. ... [more]  

The Atlantic has proved to be a test for the VO65s in the Volvo Ocean Race and their teams as a battle of gybing down the west coast of Africa broke out, keeping all boats in a relatively tight-knit pack for much longer than expected. Having passed Morocco and the Canaries, we were drawn to the tricky-to-handle magnet of Cape Verde. ... [more]  

It’s the dawn of a complicated day in the Volvo Ocean Race. Let’s face it: we’re not having a very good time on Dongfeng. We lost distance last night, and our leading position. The day got dull afterwards. Sailing straight ahead, with the spinnaker up, in light winds. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15, Day 10 onboard Team SCA. Two days, eight hours, thirty-four minutes, and ten seconds, nine seconds, eight, seven, six, five… over the last few days the clock has gotten louder and louder as it counts down to October 23rd at noon—the time when we cross the equator and the time when myself and six other sailors join the rest of our crew in King Neptune’s court. ... [more]  

For Pablo Arrarte Elorza, the Volvo Ocean Race is a tough challenge. Not as far as physical effort is concerned because this likeable Spaniard is a very strong guy. For Pablo, the race is mostly a culinary war of attrition because the food that the team has bought with it on the race does little to please his gourmet palate. ... [more]  

The 2014 RS:X Youth Worlds kicked off on October 20th in Clearwater, USA, and it was hard work from the start: in 5-6 kt of breeze, offshore to start the day and side-on to close it, pumping was in order for the 54 boys and 28 girls gathered here for the 2014 RS:X Youth World Windsurfing Championships. ... [more]  

The team at The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta are very happy to announce that entries are now open for the 2015 Regatta, taking place March 5 - 8. The team hopes to see lots of return entries as well as new ones this year, all coming to celebrate the event's 35th year. In order to celebrate this milestone year, there will be some new features this coming season. ... [more]  

After three complete days at sea only three boats competing in the 2014 Rolex Middle Sea Race have passed the northwest tip of Sicily, roughly the halfway point of the race. The prevailing wind remains weak, but is expected to strengthen this afternoon coinciding with the arrival of bulk of the fleet t the Egadi Islands. ... [more]  

Last week the Volvo Ocean Race was all about VMG downwind sailing, with Dongfeng being the star performer. After DFRT took the lead, they shortly lost it again 36 hours later after hitting something in the water and losing their rudder. Two hours later they were up and running again with the spare in. Impressive stuff. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race: Blogs from the Boats - Leg 1, Day 9 plus Videos *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.nz/com
Several of the On Board Reporters aboard, provide their unique views of Leg 1, Day 9 of the Volvo Ocean Race - in text, images and video. ... [more]  

Rolex Middle Sea Race 2014 - Fight to the finish by Media Royal Malta Yacht Club
Igor Simicic's maxi, Esimit Europa 2 is expected to finish the Rolex Middle Sea Race in the early hours of tomorrow morning. However the 100ft carbon fibre canting keel Maxi is under serious pressure to secure their fourth Line Honours victory in the race. ... [more]  

Italy won two races (windward-leeward race (ninth race) and coastal race (11th race), Switzerland won the second race of the day (10th race) and Ireland the last one (12th race). A lot of tactics was required to make best use of the little wind. The first race (windward-leeward race, 0,8nm) started at four knots. A second start under black flag happened. ... [more]  

New improved swell forecasting and more locations from PredictWind
Volvo Ocean Race: Day 9 final report - Lead continually changing
Renaissance Re Junior Gold Cup - An opportunity for growth
Volvo Ocean Race: Fleet charges the door of the Doldrums Casino *Feature
La Torche PWA Grand Slam - Light winds on day 3
Volvo Ocean Race: Navigators throw away the routing textbook
Volvo Ocean Race - The Doldrums, a navigational nightmare + Video
Rolex Middle Sea Race - Maltese yachts top the leader board
Star Sailors League Finals - Torben Grael and Jorge Zarif join fleet
Volvo Ocean Race - Team Alvimedica heads for the Doldrums
Volvo Ocean Race - Team SCA, a crew on a mission
Thailand bids for 2016 IODA ‘Optimist’ World Championships
Farr 40 Worlds: Prizegiving images from the Final day in San Francisco
Bill Green - builder and sailor passes on
ISAF World Sailing Rankings – 20 October 2014
Farr 40 Worlds: Images from the Final day in San Francisco *Feature
Farr 40 Worlds: Images from Day 2 in San Francisco *Feature
Rolex Middle Sea Race 2014 - A hard day's night
34th Student Yachting World Cup 2014 - Second race day
Volvo Ocean Race: Dongfeng loses lead, anyone's race ahead of Doldrums *Feature
Flying Dreams 'An Ocean Story': The Movie   
New super maxis gear up for Rolex Sydney Hobart   
Volvo Ocean Race: Blogs from the Boats - Leg 1, Day 8 plus Videos *Feature   
Linda Elias Memorial Women’s One Design Challenge - Youngerman wins   
2014 Off Valparaíso Race - Santander team victorious   
La Torche PWA Grand Slam - Waves continue to pound on day 2   
Volvo Ocean Race: Dongfeng consolidates lead on Day 8 *Feature   
RS:X Youth World Championships - All set for Clearwater action   
Rolex Middle Sea Race 2014 - Slow road north   
Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 – Dongfeng Race Team - A risky call   
Rolex Middle Sea Race 2014 - Escaping the shroud of Mount Etna   
Farr 40 Worlds: Day 4 Image and Video gallery *Feature   
Australian 18 Footers League’s Major A. Frizelle Trophy   
Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 - Leader gambles on Island windshadow   
2014 Sailing World Cup Qingdao - Final day video highlights   
2014 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship - Plenty of time   
Coast Guard rescues two near Wachapreague   
2014 Off Valparaíso Race - Day 2   
La Torche PWA Grand Slam - Massive swell on day 1   
Volvo Ocean Race: Welcome to Al's Ocean Cafe   


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 NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT