Sue Pelling interviewed Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson to ask about her immediate sailing plans and her views on the Yngling keelboat.

Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson took a day out to experience life on board the Swan 70 Serano/Volvo for Life at Skandia Life Cowes Week. While waiting for the wind to fill in before the racing, Sue Pelling chatted to Shirley about her immediate sailing plans and her views on the Yngling keelboat.

What do you think about the Yngling as an Olympic class?
“The Yngling is like a squashed Soling really, for three crew. The selection for an Olympic class was an interesting one and we’ve had a steep learning curve. When the boat was first selected it was very undeveloped. It was a relaxed family boat but now it’s an Olympic racer and a lot of fun. I actually think it’s a good choice of boat for women because it’s the perfect size and really nice to sail.

Who’s crewing for you?
Inga Leask in the middle and Sarah Ayrton at the front. Sarah was youth silver medallist in the Laser class and she was with me in Sydney and helped me train for the Games in the Europe.

So you’re flying out to Greece tonight; when do you start sailing?
Tomorrow! Although the main Olympic Test Event doesn’t start until next week, the girls are currently racing at another regatta, so I’ll join them for the rest of the week.

What’s next?
To be honest I’m not sure. We have a problem with lack of funding. I think most sports are struggling at the moment. We have lottery funding, Ben Ainslie, Iain Percy and I are sponsored by Volvo and Ben and I have additional sponsorship from Henri Lloyd, but we really do need even more support. Henri Lloyd provides us with a car which, for keelboat sailing, is a major contribution. They also provide us with sailing clothing.

So how would further funding help?
It would assist paying for technical work and for coaching and that kind of thing. Also our lottery funding is a lot lower percentage-wise in a keelboat than it was in the Europe and the Laser classes so we have to raise some more funding commercially to ensure we get the best from our Olympic campaign.