British Olympic Sailing - A One Trick Pony ?

The British Sailing team racked-up eight medals at the Rio Olympic Test event and Olympic sailing manager Stephen Park has hailed his team’s ‘substantial progress’ since the 2012 Games. It would have been difficult not to - they did equal the gold medal haul of the 2012 Games - 1 Gold - and in the same event, the Finn.

The Finn class - in the safe hands of Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy - has been an Olympic gold medal event for GBR in the last four Games, and looks set to continue despite their retirement from Olympic sailing.

The problem for Stephen Park is finding someone who can win gold in another event, British Sailing is looking very much a "one trick pony". With the Star and Match racing events dropped from the next Games in Rio, there is only one current event, the Laser, that GBR have won a gold in (2008) at the last four Olymic Games.

Yes, this perfomance was notable in taking a podium place in seven of the ten events, but then Britain was the only other country, apart from the hosts Brazil, to field a full team in each event. The perfomance of other countries such as Australia, New Zealand and France did not have the same scale but each took four medals including two golds.

49er - Promises . . . promises . . .Click image for a larger image

Regular British Team players featured in the long standing classes, 49er, 470 and Laser/Radial. Both the leading 470 crews are at the top of their game and have reasonable home competition for the Olympic spot. The 49er which has always promised much but not delivered, is looking stronger this time around, with genuine strength in depth.

The Laser and Radial have world class but lack depth in events with tough world-wide competition and with two years to go that could be a problem.

The RS:X is an enigma, both our top selections are world class, but we have never won Olympic gold despite six attempts, and the present competition for selection is not strong enough to really raise any hopes.

Two new events were featured in Rio, the women's skiff, the 49erFX, and the mixed crew multihull the Nacra 17. Both have attracted top British crews and the standard is rising fast, but that interest has been mirrored world-wide and these will be difficult events to medal in.

Stephen Park of course is well aware of this - "It’s certainly a work in progress and of course we’d like to win more gold medals than we’ve won this week." - and will be looking to his teams performance at the next real competition, the ISAF World Championships in Santander in September, with over 1,400 sailors and more than 1,000 boats representing 80 nations expected.

A similar result there really would be very pleasing.