News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery : Sailing reaps benefits of winning culture

Sailing reaps benefits of winning culture

The British boat skimmed sweetly over the finish — that’s what it’s like down at the sailing these days; another day, another medal.

Chris Draper’s response was unequivocal: a dirty great deck-busting, heel-bruising stamp. Disappointment seared him. The medal was bronze.

Draper and Simon Hiscocks sailed in third in the 49er class and no; they were not happy, not happy at all. ‘We’re a bit down,’ Hiscocks said. Draper added: ‘We came here to win the gold.’

And if all this seems a trifle ungracious, it is not. It is just a reflection of the high expectations and high achievements of Great Britain’s sailors.

They are the most successful Britain team at these Games, with two golds, one silver and two bronzes. The cyclists are the only threat, with an almost equally impressive tally of two golds, a silver and a bronze.

Britain will finish as the top nation in Olympic sailing, just as they did in Sydney four years ago.

In Barcelona in 1992, the sailors got one bronze; in Atlanta four years later, two silvers. There has, then, been a bit of a sea change in British sailing. The Brits have bossed the regatta here and although it was a frustrating day, it was also a day of high achievement, a day that confirmed the recent but dazzling tradition of excellence.

The 49ers are sweet boats to watch, keel-less little things that seem scarcely to touch the surface of the water while the two-man crew leaps around with athletic precision and hangs dizzyingly from the trapeze.

It was good to go to sea, an essential part of any visit to Greece, for the sea swirls and rolls throughout the history and mythology of this thrillingly ancient place.

The sea swayed, rolled and tossed them, all blue with white wings, as George Seferis wrote in one of his sea-washed poems. The white wings of the sails didn’t get much air to fill them, though; airs that were neither nipping nor eager.

The British boys sought the best breeze, fearful of finding that most dreaded of things on a light air day, ‘a hole in the wind’.

They duelled piratically with the boat from Ukraine, knowing that to beat them by more than one boat would take them to silver and make it a more satisfying day altogether.

But it was not to be. ‘It’s been a long four years,’ Draper said. ‘It takes up my life. This is what we do, this is what we will continue to do.’

And that is what the Britain sailing team will continue to do. The medal tally is final now but — by any reckoning — it has been a deeply satisfactory performance.

No sport can claim to have quite the same success at the tricky task of converting lottery money into medals; converting, if you like, national folly into national joy.

This is the Olympic value sport. The sudden surge to effectiveness has coincided with the lottery money — it began after the Games of 1996 — so much so that it looks as if the whole business is about throwing money at a problem.

Which is all very well, but how come all the other lottery-funded Olympic sports aren’t as successful as sailing?

The answer is, sailing people say, that the lottery money came at the right time to an organisation that was already well geared for producing elite performers and elite performances. Medals, in other words.

It is reckoned that, even without lottery money, Britain would be a top-three sailing nation in a competitive and widely contested sport — medals have been spread over more than 20 nations.

It comes to a culture. And a victorious culture cannot be established overnight. Or even in four years, as the Britain swimming team found out to their great distress.

Bill Sweetenham always said that the Athens Games were just a staging post; that his first four years as performance director were not enough.

He has consistently promised that we will see the fruits of a properly established winning culture in four years’ time, in Beijing.

Rod Carr, chairman of the Royal Yachting Association, said that British sailing now has ‘a really bloody strong culture’, but that it was ‘modest and understated’.

What is so intriguing about such a culture is the way it enshrines winning more or less in its constitution. It really is true that winning begets winning.

It is an infectious thing — one team member wins, the next one expects to, or at least is totally unsurprised to be in a winning position.

Victory of a teammate changes a competitor’s attitude about himself, about herself. Winning becomes unsurprising, perhaps even inevitable.

These five medals, including the two extra-shiny ones, come as a result of intelligent, thought-through planning.

You don’t spread the money out too thin so that everyone can have a go, not if your job is to seek Olympic medals.

But you don’t just bung all your money at a few individuals at the top; you plan deep and you plan long.

Five medals at the World Youth Championships bear that out very pleasantly.

There has been wailing and gnashing of British teeth at the swimming and, in athletics, an awful lot of tears.

But if any Brits are upset down at the sailing regatta, it is because a bronze is a disappointment.

‘We’ll be happy tomorrow,’ Hiscocks said.

by Simon Barnes


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

8:55 PM Mon 30 Aug 2004 GMT

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

Click for further information on
2004 Olympics Athens

Related News Stories:

04 Nov 2004  Athens shares Olympic lessons
29 Oct 2004  Voting closed for ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year
02 Oct 2004  Yachting Australia High Performance review
16 Sep 2004  The President speaks - Olympics and no throw out
08 Sep 2004  ISAF official Olympic film
07 Sep 2004  First Rankings Of The New Olympiad Released
06 Sep 2004  Channel 7’s lack of Olympic sailing coverage
06 Sep 2004  The 2004 Olympic Games – the Forbes perspective
05 Sep 2004  Aussie Olympic dreams shattered
03 Sep 2004  Channel 7’s Olympic coverage

News - USA and the World

2014 Detroit Cup - Sam Gilmour leads by Dobbs Davis, Detroit, Michigan

Audi Melges 20 U.S. Nationals - Oleander takes early lead by International Audi Melges 20 Class Association,

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week: Riding the AC45 - VIDEO by Crosbie Lorimer, Hamilton Island

America's Cup: Five Challengers sign-on for 35th Match by Richard Gladwell/,

Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad talks Time and Money (Part II) *Feature by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World team,

AWT Quatro Desert Showdown at Punta San Carlos by American Windsurfing Tour,

America's Cup: Rod Davis - Time for a change after ten years with team *Feature
ISAF seeking hosting bids for Nations Cup
Laser 4.7 Youth Worlds - Luvisetto and Alexadr Boite victorious +Video
IFDS World Championships - Action shots by Tim Wilkes
Maxi yacht rendezvous this September in Sardinia
World Yacht Racing Forum 2014: 'Growing the business of Yacht Racing'
Clipper Race: 2015-16 edition of world's longest ocean race 70% full
Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland - Swish smash 5th World Record
Leaderboards take shape at the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games 2014
IFDS Worlds - Hot competition on first day of racing
Challenging Conditions - CORK OCR
IFDS World Championship - Day 1 for the US Sailing Team
2014 Melges 20 World Championship - Countdown begins
2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games - Day 3
America's Cup: Team NZ wish Davis well with new team *Feature
Fisher's View: Sailing perfection at Hamilton Island- Day 3
Roble and Wilson still number one match racers in the U.S.
2014 Formula Kite World Championship Day 1
IFDS World Championship - Day 1 images by Jude Robertson
Volvo Ocean Race: Forget the f-word - Team SCA profiled
52 Super Series - Fleet grows, 2015 dates revealed   
420 and 470 Junior Europeans - Teams from 9 nations on the podium   
IFDS Worlds - Former president presented with ISAF awards medal   
Nanjing Youth Olympic Games - Improvements aplenty in Byte CII fleets   
America's Cup: New Zealand loses top coach to Artemis Racing   
Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 CEO Knut Frostad talks (Part I) *Feature   
Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race Day 9 - Swish on record pace   
2014 CORK Olympic Classes Regatta - Day 3   
2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games - Day 2   
2014 IFDS World Championship: Opening Ceremony images   
Opera House Cup - Images by Ingrid Abery   
Teams descend upon Cowes for inaugural J/111 World Championships   
Hamilton Island Race Week: Everywhere there's smiley people   
IFDS World Championships - US Paralympic hopefuls ready for racing   
Sopot Match Race - Poland's Tour debut deemed a triumph   
Vineyard Race celebrates 80th running of the East Coast classic   
Nanjing Youth Olympic Games: Young sailors begin racing on Lake Jinniu   
AWT Quatro Desert Showdown - Victory for Morgan Noireaux   
Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race - Day 8: Test of endurance   
Bart's Bash: Over 2300 entered from 588 yacht clubs - Join here   

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  

Switch Default Region to:

Social Media





New Zealand

United Kingdom

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World






Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text


Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery


Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery





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.
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT