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05 Aug 2008

Sailing More Competitive Than Ever

Image: © David Bell

Olympic competition has never been more intense among sailors, according to several experienced coaches at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. 

"I love looking around the boatyard during these days. You see some big changes in people. It's great drama," says USA 49er class coach Skip WHYTE, who raced in the 470 class for many years and coached 470 sailors to a gold, three silver and a bronze medal over five Olympics.

German Star class coach Mark REYNOLDS (USA), who won two gold medals in four Olympics, said: "It is so much more professional now. I can remember taking three weeks off from work to sail the trials. Now Olympic-class sailing at this level is a full-time job."

Tornado competitor and multiple medallist Mitch BOOTH (NED) agrees. "Sailing has become more professional," he said. "There are more full-time sailors. We used to sail two or three regattas that took place immediately before or after the World Championships and that would be our programme for the year. Now the Olympics are the highlight of an on-going programme."

The sailors are now in their final stage of preparation and making last-minute adjustments.

"It's too late to worry and too early to cry," said Rod DAVIS (NZL), who won gold in the Soling in 1984 for the USA and silver in the Star for New Zealand in 1992 and is now the Olympic Director for the New Zealand team.

Victor KOVALENKO (AUS) has developed a reputation as the "medal maker" at seven Olympic Games.

"It is going to be a really good Olympics," he said. "These are happy hosts. They are so friendly and it makes a big difference in this atmosphere. It's infectious. The sailors are friendlier towards one another and are sharing the Olympic experience. It is not as tense as the World Championships."

Source: Olympic News Service