The Team GB sailors heading to Rio 2016
PUBLISHED: 10:42 26 July 2016 | UPDATED: 10:42 26 July 2016
©Jesús Renedo / Sailing Energy
Some of the Britain’s most talented Olympic sailors live and train in Dorset. Abi Butcher finds out about their preparations for Rio 2016 and their passion for the county they call home
Luke Patience (29)
• Event: Men’s 470 (with Chris Grube)
• Medal prospects: After winning Olympic silver in 2012, Luke has had a turbulent ride with changes in partners, a de-selection and a re-selection. Originally from Aberdeen, sailing brought him to Dorset in 2008. Luke, who turns 30 the day before the Games start, is keen to take gold at Rio and is one to watch.
• Training for the Games: “A normal day would be spent trying to make the boat go faster; we’ll be in the boat shed in Weymouth testing and tinkering with things, before a three-hour session on the water. Sometimes we go almost as far as Lulworth, other times we’ll be tucked right up under Portland.”
• When I’m not sailing: “I go fishing on the northwest side of Portland with my mates - we’ll clamber down to catch our tea as the sun is setting. Kimmeridge is a great place for surfing, windsurfing and rock climbing. Some of Britain’s best climbing is along the coast at Portland.”
• Follow Luke on Twitter @patience_luke
Bryony Shaw (33)
• Event: Women’s RS:X
• Medal prospects: World ranked #1 female windsurfer, Bryony Shaw is a bronze medallist from Beijing 2008. She’s fitter than ever going into this year’s Games: 2015 saw her secure multiple gold medals, European Champion, World Championship silver, and win the World Cup Final. Things are looking good for gold at Rio.
• How I prepared for Rio: “Training and competing abroad so much, the time I get at home in Dorset is really special, especially this year with so much time being spent in Brazil. I use yoga a lot in my training regime, and the tranquillity of Dorset really helps with this – you feel instantly calm being in Weymouth.”
• Follow on Twitter @bryonyshaw
Giles Scott (29)
• Event: Finn Class
• Medal prospects: Tipped as Britain’s best medal hope across all our sports, Giles Scott is four-times Finn World Champion and is making his Olympic debut in Rio. Born in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, he’s lived in Weymouth since 2008.
• Why I love Dorset: “Having the Jurassic coastline on your doorstep is pretty cool. I often go for a cycle around Lulworth Cove and Abbotsbury followed by a visit to a fish restaurant.”
• Training for the Games: “I tend to head out on the water, then to the boat shed. I spend a lot of time in the gym and a lot of time cycling.”
• And when you’re not sailing: “I’m a big fan of kitesurfing so you can sometimes spot me trying my hand at that. We sailors tend to do a lot of different sports – kitesurfing, windsurfing – and when we’re not on the water, cycling. When I can I head out spear fishing and I am also a bit of a chronic café cruiser – I love the Crab House Café. Can you tell I’m a big fish fan?”
• Follow on Twitter @GilesScott
Hannah Mills (28) and Saskia Clark (36)
• Event: 470
• Medal prospects: Hannah and Saskia were 2012 silver medallists at the Olympics. They are fresh off the race track having just won gold at the prestigious Sailing World Cup, on their home waters in Weymouth. Best friends off the water, they have their sights firmly set on Olympic gold and epitomise brilliant teamwork.
• Hannah: “I grew up in Cardiff which was very different to my life here in Weymouth. Sailing campaigns get pretty chaotic, particularly in Olympic year, so it’s nice to take a step back from it all at home in Dorset.”
• Saskia: “There’s so much to be done in preparation for Rio and Dorset is the perfect place to spend the limited downtime we have. A walk along the coastline is great if you want to gather your thoughts.”
• Follow the girls on Twitter @470Girls
Ben Saxton (26)
• Event: Nacra 17
• Medal prospects: European Champion 2015, Ben sails with Nicola Groves in one of the few mixed events – the Nacra 17 class. He’s also a keen cyclist and skier.
• Ben: “Heading out to Rio, we have the support of the country, but it’s the local support in Dorset that’s really special. Because of the sailing base here in Weymouth & Portland, everyone’s taken an interest in sailing. Since 2012 that support’s really been ramped up a gear and we are proud that Dorset is such a hub of sailing talent.”
• Follow him on Twitter at @bensaxton
Ali Young (30)
• Event: Laser Radial
• Medal prospects: Ali narrowly missed out on an Olympic medal in 2012, but has just won the Laser Radial World Championships so has her sights set on gold in Rio. An absolute fitness machine, Ali enjoys cycling and stand up paddle boarding (SUP) in her free time. She moved to Portland from Worcestershire 8 years ago.
• Training for the Games: “The facilities and natural environment here make it an ideal base for training both on and off the water. A sailing session can be in the harbour or out in the bay, so you can experience a variety of conditions. It’s great having such good facilities in Portland - it makes training much more productive.”
• And when I’m not on the water: “I particularly enjoy cycling up Abbotsbury for the view back over Portland — or I SUP in Portland harbour, followed by a barbecue on Chesil Beach at sunset. There are also some great local walks with amazing views - Old Harry Rocks and Lulworth Cove are particular favourites.
• Follow on Twitter @AlisonYoungGBR
Nick Dempsey (36)
• Event: Men’s RS:X
• Medal prospects: Double Olympic windsurfing medallist, Nick Dempsey already has a bronze and silver medal under his belt, so he won’t settle for anything less than gold at Rio. Winning any medal this summer will make him the most successful windsurfer of all time. Nick grew up in Peterborough, but has lived in Dorset for the last 15 years, first in Bournemouth and then in Weymouth.
• Why I love Weymouth: “You can live anywhere as an Olympic sailor as long as you have access to the sea but I like that Weymouth is a small town; you can feel a little cut off from the rest of the world, but that’s all part of the charm.”
• Training for the Games: “My day starts with two hours in the gym, then three hours on the water. We have very little free time, so it’s important that we spend our time training in beautiful places like Weymouth. This year my life was spilt 50/50 between Weymouth and Rio. A lot of the fine-tuning was done on home waters.”
• And when I’m not on the water: “I spend as much time as I can with my two children, we love the outdoors and Dorset has plenty to offer. After Rio I’m launching my career as a professional photographer. I’m always out in Dorset capturing the beautiful scenery, telling the story of my adventures here with my pictures. I’ve lived here 15 years and I’m always finding new places.
• Follow Nick on Twitter @nickdempsey1
Charlotte Dobson (30) & Sophie Ainsworth (27)
• Event: 49erFX
• Medal prospects: The GBR FX girls teamed up in June 2013, having both previously campaigned in other classes prior to 2012. In March they were selected as the 49erFX team heading to Rio.
• Charlotte: “Living in Portland I have the most fantastic views as I go about my day. My favourite place is the rocky beach underneath the castle at the back of the Easton, it’s a top spot for a quiet evening barbecue.”
• Sophie: “I love all the water sports activities you can enjoy here. Weymouth Harbour is where I learnt to kite surf – I just wish I could spend more time here, but I suppose competing in Rio isn’t a bad alternative! When not on the water I love dropping by the Pie and Ale House in Weymouth or enjoying a walk to Durdle Door.”
Dylan Fletcher (28)
• Event: 49er
• Medal prospects: One of the final additions to the Team GB sailing team, Dylan and his partner Alain Sign (from Hampshire) sail in the 49er class. Having recently finished second at the Sailing World Cup in Weymouth and Portland, they are strong medal contenders for the 2016 Games.
• Dylan: “I really enjoy the outdoor life and everything it has to offer down here. Regarding the Games, we are really motivated. We’re not going to take our foot off the gas pedal and we’ll certainly enjoy this Olympic experience that we’ve been given.”
• Follow on Twitter @GBR49erTeam