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Henri-Lloyd 2022 December - SW LEADERBOARD

British Sailing Team unveils Olympic test event line-up

by British Sailing Team 30 May 23:54 PDT
Martin Wrigley and Bettine Harris © Will Carson

Tokyo 2020 stars John Gimson, Anna Burnet and Emma Wilson will headline a stellar cast of athletes picked to represent Great Britain at the Paris 2024 test event.

The medal-winning trio are among a 14-strong squad that will take on the world's best in Marseille, host city of the sailing competition at next summer's Olympics, in July.

The test event is a dress rehearsal for the Games with only one entry per nation in each of the ten classes.

It's also a key performance indicator in the run-up to Paris 2024, where Britain will aim to maintain its title as the world's most successful Olympic sailing team.

Gimson and Burnett, Nacra 17 silver medallists at Tokyo 2020, will head to Marseille unbeaten in 2023 having chalked up wins at the Princess Sofia Trophy and Semaine Olympique Française regattas.

Windsurfer Wilson, who won Olympic bronze in the RS:X, has also enjoyed an impressive start to the season with victory at the Princess Sofia Trophy and bronze at the iQFOiL European Championships.

With many of the successful Tokyo 2020 team hanging up their wetsuit boots, including gold medallists Giles Scott, Hannah Mills, Eilidh McIntyre, Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell, a new generation will get their chance stake their claims for a ticket to the greatest show on Earth.

Joining Wilson on the iQFOiL, one of two new sailing classes making their Olympic debut in Paris, will be Sam Sills, who won bronze at the Lanzarote International Regatta before clinching the top spot at the Princess Sofia Trophy.

With Formula Kite also set to debut in Paris, Connor Bainbridge and Ellie Aldridge have been chosen to compete at the test event off the back off bronze medals at the Princess Sofia Trophy and another for Bainbridge at Semaine Olympique Française.

A win at Princess Sofia followed by bronze at Semaine Olympique Française was enough to secure Micky Beckett the coveted spot in the ILCA 7, while 2022 Princess Sofia silver medallist Hannah Snellgrove will fly the flag in the ILCA 6 fleet.

Stalwart pairing James Peters and Fynn Sterritt will take on the 49er fleet while two-time Olympian Saskia Tidey and test event debutant Freya Black (below) will contest the 49erFX class.

In the mixed 470, the spot goes to Martin Wrigley and Bettine Harris. The duo only joined forces a few months ago but have put in some promising performances.

Selection for the test event, made by the RYA's Olympic Selection Committee, is a key step in the RYA's ongoing process to nominate athletes to go to Paris 2024 as part of Team GB.

It doesn't guarantee that these athletes will be picked to represent Team GB at Paris 2024.

Mark Robinson, the RYA's Performance Director, said: "Attending the Olympic test event is always a key milestone in one's Olympic campaign journey and these 14 athletes, through their recent performances, thoroughly deserve that opportunity. With a number of equipment and class changes for Paris 2024 we have selected a great mix of up-and-coming performers alongside seasoned campaigners at the highest level."

The Paris 2024 test event runs from July 9 to 16, and results can be followed at the event website. Stay tuned to British Sailing Team social media for updates throughout the regatta.

Event website: paris2024.sailing.org

Quotes from the sailors

Nacra 17, John Gimson (40, Congleton, Cheshire) said, "We are delighted to be selected for the test event. It's always a big milestone in any Olympic campaign. It's a big test for the organisers, but it's also a good test for us to race in the Olympic venue and and make sure we understand the conditions so we can see where we are strong and what areas we need to work on before the Olympics next year."

49er, James Peters (30, Tunbridge Wells, Kent) said, "Fynn and I are super happy to be selected for the test event. I've been Olympic campaigning for 13 years and have been involved in three Olympic cycles but this is the first time I've been selected for a test event. It represents something new for me, and it's obviously the critical first step in securing selection for Paris 2024. I'm excited to get out to the Olympic venue and race, it'll be a great opportunity to test ourselves in the very place the Olympics will take place next summer. We won't have a closer experience to the Games themselves than this. We care about this result: it's a statement to our competitors but also an opportunity to put ourselves through our paces, see what does and doesn't work, and soak up that Olympic environment."

49er, Fynn Sterritt (34, Kingussie, Scotland) said, "Getting selected for the test event is a significant step for James and I towards our goals for Paris 2024, we have been doing this for many a year now and have experienced a lot, but getting selected for the Test Event is new, so that's really exciting. It's definitely a significant milestone but it won't mean anything unless we show what we can do. We were slightly disappointed with the outcome result of both Palma and Hyeres and are keen to take our performance up another level in Marseille. Right now that is all we're focusing on, if we do that and continue in that vein for the rest of the year then we'll be in good shape leading into the Games."

49erFX, Saskia Tidey (29, Portland, Dorset) said, "It was a big goal of ours to qualify for the test event spot and represent Great Britain in the 49er FX class. We have really enjoyed sailing in Marseille. The conditions are challenging so any extra time we can take in the venue is golden! We are really proud to be on track for Paris 2024. The test event will be the perfect opportunity to get a feel for what will be needed next summer to win medals."

49erFX, Freya Black (22, Goudhurst, Kent) said, "It's amazing to have been selected for the test event. It was one of our main goals this year so it's great to have the opportunity to race against the best boats a year out from the Olympics. It will be a really cool event with a feel of what's to come next year so I'm really excited."

iQFOiL, Emma Wilson (24, Christchurch, Dorset) said, "I'm super happy to be able to go compete at the Olympic test event, I'm looking forward to just go give my best and enjoy the opportunity. Obviously it's great practice ahead of the 2024 Olympics which I hope to win gold at, but for now I'm just loving my windsurfing and I'm grateful for all these opportunities."

iQFOiL, Sam Sills (30, Launceston, Cornwall) said, "It means an awful lot to be selected for the test event. It's been a long and difficult journey to get here, and I'm thrilled to have been able to make it to this point. It's probably about 20 years of work! I'm just really excited to get out to Marseille and start building towards the test event. I'll be trying to bring home gold for Great Britain for sure."

ILCA 6, Hannah Snellgrove (32, Lymington, Hants) said, "It's an absolute honour to be selected for the test event and to be a part of this team of incredible sailors. This regatta feels like a real stepping stone towards the end goal of performing at the Paris 2024 Olympics - it is a huge opportunity to learn about the Games environment and the differences that come with racing against only one competitor from each country. I missed out on time in Marseille last summer due to injury so I am currently really trying to maximise my understanding of the venue and can't wait to get racing the best in world here come July."

ILCA 7, Michael Beckett (28, Solva, Pembrokeshire) said, "It's no secret that our ILCA 7 squad is incredibly competitive, so being selected for this event was a special moment. It's a unique kind of event with the 'one sailor per country' format so I'm really looking forwards to taking on that challenge. Also the chance to learn more about Marseille in summer is huge; a really important part of this year."

470, Martin Wrigley (26, Hereford, Herefordshire) said, "It's such an honour to be picked for the Paris 2024 test event. It's been a rollercoaster year for me, and Bee and I only started sailing together a few months ago, but already we've come a long way. We've had event after event since we teamed up, with very little time to actually train, so we're looking forward to getting some time in the boat together outside of competition. We're going to be spending as much time between now and the test event in Marseille so we can really hit the ground running when the regatta begins in just over a month."

470, Bettine Harris (20, Axbridge, Somerset) said, "It feels pretty nuts to have been selected for the test event when Martin and I only jumped in the boat together just over three months ago. This opportunity is definitely a huge step in the right direction and has given us something to really push towards over the next month. I'm excited to see what we can achieve after being able to get a few more hours on the water ticked off, pretty much everyday so far I'm learning something new so it's just about being able to maximise that now before day one of the test event."

Formula Kite, Connor Bainbridge (29, Weymouth, Dorset) said, "It's been a very tough winter's training so for all the hard work to pay off and be selected for the test event really is a great feeling and moves my Olympic journey into its next phase. As with everyone going to the test event the ultimate goal has to be a medal to cement my trajectory toward the Olympics next year but more than that is a great opportunity for me to learn what an Olympic set up is going to look like so I am better prepared for next year."

Formula Kite, Ellie Aldridge (26, Poole, Dorset) said, "I'm very excited to be competing at the test event in July! There will only be one competitor from each country so the racing will be really different to normal, where the top spots are usually dominated by multiple French and British athletes. I'm also looking forwards to being in Marseille with the rest of the selected team and coaches. I think it'll be good fun and hopefully we'll learn a lot about each other and the venue."

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