The RYA may be keeping its powder dry but the British sailing team appears to be taking shape
When it comes to the selection of the British Olympic sailing team, the selectors at the RYA have played their cards close to their chests. But now with Sail for Gold complete another piece of the jigsaw has been put in place as the sailors that will take part in the Olympic test event in August are revealed.
In several classes the news is of little surprise. In the Star there is no other realistic contender for a place at the Olympics other than Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson. The same can be said for the men and women’s places in the RSX sailboard where Nick Dempsey and Bryony Shaw will go forward to the next stage for the same reasons as will the Women’s Match racers, Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush & Kate Macgregor.
Ben Ainslie stamped his authority in the Finn class from the start to take an emphatic win.
In other fleets like the men’s Laser, most expected former medallist, world and European Champion Paul Goodison to be the favourite and yet a sticky start to his Sail for Gold saw fellow countryman Nick Thompson hold the upper hand for much of the event. Only a late charge by Goodison got him ahead by the close of play. By his own admission, things had looked pretty worrying during the week.
In the women’s Laser Radial Charlotte Dobson took the lead in her close match with Alison Young.
But elsewhere the picture was far from clear as the racing at Sail for Gold got underway. In the 470 women, the relatively new pairing of Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark came good when it needed to, beating Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes.
Nick Rogers and Chris Grube have also made a late and successful charge for the front of the fleet in the 470 men beating many people’s former favourites Nic Asher and Elliot Willis by what turned out to be a large margin.
But the biggest nail biter of them all was in the 49er class where seven competitive British pairings have made picking a top team extremely difficult for the selectors. Indeed, the race to represent Britain in 2012 could still change if the selectors have a change of heart. A late surge of performance by Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes gained them some breathing space in the end as the former Olympic representatives in 2008 took the win at Sail for Gold and have now been announced as the team to go through to the test event.
Taking part in this pre-run for the Olympics is no guarantee of being selected for 2012, but with two shots at racing under pressure at the Olympic venue such an advantage makes it difficult to see how the team would change for the main event next year.
Nothing is set in stone as yet, but the British Olympic team seems to be taking shape.
The Olympic test event will run from July 29 to August 11 at the Weymouth and
Portland National Sailing Academy.
Skandia Team GBR selections:
Star: Iain Percy & Andrew Simpson
Laser Radial: Charlotte Dobson
Laser: Paul Goodison
RS:X Men: Nick Dempsey
RS:X Women: Bryony Shaw
Finn: Ben Ainslie
49er: Stevie Morrison & Ben Rhodes
470 Men: Nick Rogers & Chris Grube
470 Women: Hannah Mills & Saskia Clark
Women’s Match Racing: Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush & Kate Macgregor