British sailing stars feature in Chasing Tokyo, a behind the scenes documentary filmed inside the GBR sailing squad on the road to the Tokyo Olympics.

Tomorrow sees the release of Chasing Tokyo, a unique behind the scenes documentary filmed inside the British Olympic sailing squad on the road to the Tokyo Games.

It’s an emotional watch. Filmed over a full year, it follows the athletes as they readied themselves for the strangest Olympic Games in history – and the parents and partners who were left behind when the sailors headed out to Tokyo.

The film crews had unprecedented access to the sailors as they navigated lockdowns, covid testing, and disrupted preparations, and the medal hopefuls candidly shared their dreams and fears. It’s an insightful view of the strange balance of tension and monotony, life-changing highs and soul-crushing lows, of life as an Olympic athlete.

British sailor Luke Patience contemplates his final Olympic Games in the documentary Chasing Tokyo Photo: RYA

The documentary gives an intriguing glimpse inside the ‘medal factory’, the machinery of the British Sailing Team which has made it consistently the most successful Olympic sailing team in the world. The legacy of London 2012, and the importance of the team’s home base in Portland – with all its quirks and characters – stands out. 

The film is also something of a love letter to British sailing, capturing the simple pleasures of an evening club race in the sunshine or a head-clearing cruise with family. It quietly celebrates the incredible diversity of the sport, as well as the unique opportunities it offers to take on its heroes – to line up against an Olympic medallist on a Saturday morning, and potentially, even to beat them.

But ultimately, it’s the sailors who are the stars – Hannah Mills, aiming to become the greatest female Olympic sailor of all time; London 2012 silver medallists Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell, each looking to go one better for an elusive gold; free spirited windsurfer Tom Squires making his Games debut. A whole documentary could have been made about Eilidh McIntyre’s journey alone, as she shares the monumental pressure she felt under joining double Olympic medallist Hannah Mills in the women’s 470. 

The whole film is beautifully shot and edited. Highly recommended for anyone missing a sailing viewing fix or who loves a sports documentary.

Chasing Tokyo is an Olympic Channel Original by Orillo Films. The 90-minute documentary is available to stream at on Thursday 28 July, and will later be available on the Discovery+ Channel.