It’s now 15 months since you won your gold medal at the Sydney Olympics. What are you plans for the next Olympics?
Yes, having won in the Finn class I’ve decided to sail a Star. We started training about a month ago and are now concentrating on the big events we have planned for this year.
Who’s crewing for you?
Steve Mitchell, who’s sailed all types of boats including the Laser 5000s, 18ft Skiffs and Etchells.
You’ve spent the best part of your successful racing career sailing a singlehander, how do you cope with another person in the boat?
It’s very interesting. You get to know someone very quickly when you spend so much time with them in the boat and you realise how quickly personalities complement each other. Steve is incredibly chilled out but well organised which is quite a rare combination. I’m fairly relaxed but not particularly well organised! I think I’ve landed on my feet getting Steve as my crew. We fit together like a jigsaw puzzle because his strengths are my weaknesses. He’s good at kicking me out of bed in the morning and making sure we’re at the right place at the right time. He’s definitely the boss!
How much training have you done so far?
We’ve done two weekend events together which went well, we’ve done some training and we’re off to Miami soon for a month for more training.
Is your boat is out there already?
Yes, the boat’s out there because all the events are there over the winter. We’re basically based over there for the winter.
…and after that?
We have a very busy programme this year basically trying to do the fast track up to the worlds in LA at the end of the year.
Would you say you’ve more events planned than you would have had in the Finn?
Undoubtedly, we are doing 11 events this year plus a lot of international training camps.
So, as well as the world championship, what other major regattas have you planned for this year?
I think the biggest one after the worlds is the Barcardi Cup in March which we’re really looking forward to.
And how are you funding your campaign?
As ever the lottery funding is a massive assistance but we hope to sign up other sponsors in due course.
Do you think the difference of the running costs of a Star compared with a Finn will have an effect on obtaining sponsorship?
Hopefully not but there is no doubt the cost are far greater. We go through a jib every week, sometimes in a day when it’s windy!
You’re obviously a fit person having raced a Finn hard for many years, but how easy is it for you to maintain that fitness?
I actually find training quite easy. In fact I think it’s probably even easier now there are two of us training together. There’s more motivation. You have to go training because your partner’s going. In fact for the first time I haven’t missed a day in the gym for three months. Before, when I was Finn sailing, I always had a couple of days off during the week, which is not the best practice.
I understand you did some big boat racing last year, do you have any similar plans for this year?
It was great fun sailing on the Farr 40 with Mark Heeley last year and sailing a Farr 50 during the Fastnet race but because we really need to focus on the Star sailing from now until the Games, we are having to put other sailing projects to the side. It’s very easy to get lost in doing too many things but I’m very aware that the only way to win at Olympic level is to ensure that is the only and primary focus. The motto we have is to move towards to the goal more by the end of the day than the beginning.
Were you ever tempted to get involved with the GBR America’s Cup Challenge?
Yes, I was very tempted because of the excitement of it but I really wanted to do another Olympics. Hopefully I’ll have an opportunity to get involved with America’s Cup sailing in the future.