At the age of 13 Rob Wilson took part in his first Optimist World Championship, joining him at that event was another young British upstart also sailing in his first Optimist Worlds . . . Ben Ainslie
“At my first Oppie World’s I was racing against Ben (Ainslie), it was also his first Optimist World’s (1989).
“Funnily enough I think he still has the results for that regatta hung up in his downstairs toilet. We raced against each other a lot over the coming years”
From the Optimist days, Rob progressed through the Junior and Youth ranks, racing in the 420s where he won the Youth Nationals and medalled at various international regattas.
In 2014, Rob’s career came full circle when he was approached by Ben Ainslie, who he first sailed against at the Optimist World Championships in 1989 . . . to join the British Challenger for the 35th America’s Cup as the Sailing Team Coach.
For Rob, the decision to join was an easy one.
“I had known Ben for a long time and knew a lot of the squad already, so I was really pleased to be asked to join the team. We kicked off with a training camp in Bermuda in the foiling 20s and straight away there was a good feeling, a solid team spirit.”
Whilst Rob’s coaching career has progressed a long way from coaching Optimists at the age of 14 through to becoming the Team Coach for an America’s Cup challenger, he has never lost his passion for the job and, if anything, the team spirit a Cup challenge brings has only ignited it further.
“What would it mean to me to win the Cup? If you asked me a month ago, I’d say it was the ‘ultimate goal’.
“It still is, and Ineos Team UK is continuing to work hard towards winning, however the current worldwide pandemic has put a lot of things into perspective over the past few weeks; the health of family, friends and frontline staff is at the forefront of all our minds.”