In the women’s single-hander two contenders are chasing one place. Will it be bubbly Charlotte Dobson or shy, serious Alison Young? Matthew Sheahan spoke to both
Charlotte Dobson and Alison Young have trained and raced against each other for several years, but never have the stakes been as high as they are now. These two Laser Radial sailors are chasing one place in Skandia Team GBR to represent Britain at the 2012 Games. As they don’t know when the selection will be made, like a game of musical chairs the pair will continue to tour the major events – Miami, Palma, Hyères, etc – until the music stops and one of them gets the nod.
Both are undoubtedly talented sailors, having proved that they can get onto the podium, particularly on their home patch in Weymouth, but they are not consistently in the medal zone and both are prone to erratic results. However, as individuals, they could not be more different.
Dobson is bubbly, articulate and infectiously enthusiastic, but she has a keen interest in risk assessment, a deep-rooted love of sailing and a self-confessed stubbornness. She also knows what it feels like to fail.
She has twice missed out on representing Great Britain and the disappointment clearly rankles. She has experienced the added pressure that big events can bring yet proved, as she did in the pre-Olympics in China, that she can rise to the occasion and get close to the elite group.
Alison Young has also been proving she is focused, yet her character is very different. Quietly spoken, she has an economy with words that suggests a shy personality. She has a First Class Honours degree in civil engineering, just one of several hints that she can be analytical.
At 5ft 11in and 68kg, with a handshake to put anybody in their place, she has a lean, powerful physique that surely makes her an intimidating Radial sailor. A keen runner and an enthusiastic cyclist, on one wheel and two, she has an athleticism to be reckoned with.
Young quickly moved into competitive sailing and while she clearly enjoyed the social side of the circuit, her fascination with sporting heroes and their routes to success provides further confirmation of her determination.
Whenever the cut is made, with such opposite characters sharing a razor sharp focus on just one teamshirt, the battle to gain the British place will have been an event in itself.
Typical team training day:
0900 – Gym
1100 – Eat and rest
1130 – Day brief and boat prep
1200 – On the water training
1530 – Off the water
1600 – Debrief
1700 – Warm down, stretch, core exercises
1800 – Video debrief and dinner
Coach – Hugh Styles
Training partners – each other
Main international competition – Page Railey, Evi Acker, Merit Bouwmeister
Sailing days per year – 200