Sailing guide - London 2012 Olympic Games
Your complete guide to sailing ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games
Converted: Great Britain is the Brazil of sailing – this is our real national sport.
Confused: A posh pastime for the blazer brigade, also beloved by Rod Stewart.
Sailing - The essential guide
Street cred: A misunderstood sport. Olympic sailors do not wear funny blue-and-white outfits, while in reality Rod Stewart’s nautical credentials are weak.
Who’s good? Aside from the British, Australia also has some able seamen and women.
Glory-hunting potential: The Brits have topped the medals table for the past three Olympics and are set to do so again at London 2012, with medal contenders in almost every event.
The basics: There are 10 different types of boat, divided into three disciplines – match racing (one against one), fleet racing (mass start) and windsurfing. Teams with the top 10 scores from the opening races compete in the grand finale – the medal race.
Athlete to watch: Blanca Manchón, a dazzlingly photogenic Spanish windsurfer who is favourite to win the Women’s RS:X.
Almost useless fact: The sport’s name was changed from ‘Yachting’ to ‘Sailing’ at the Sydney 2000 games, presumably because it sounded a bit too posh.
Not to be confused with: Yachting.
As featured in: Ernest Hemingway’s ‘Old Man and the Sea’, Herman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’ and ‘I’m on a Boat’ by The Lonely Island.
Do say: ‘Sailors compete not just against each other, but also the elements, and the good old British weather will make this event enthrallingly unpredictable.’
Don't say: ‘Fabulous deck shoes, these guys are totally on trend.’
British Olympic hopeful - Iain Percy
What sacrifices have you had to make? Do you regret any?
I remember when I was younger, everyone used to ask, “What are the sacrifices when you’re travelling around the world?” and I didn’t really understand the question. As I get a bit older, I guess the real sacrifice is the time spent away from home. It’s quite a tough life – you spend 40 weeks out of the country every year.
What's your favourite London spot or guilty pleasure?
I’ve just moved near to Borough Market and when I go there on a Saturday all the food I end up eating wandering around the stalls makes me feel quite guilty.
Who’s your Olympics crush?
Blimey, there have been a few. Those swimmers look all right generally don’t they? I’m sorry, I don’t know their names.
What does your diet consist of, and how does it change when you're training?
About 10 years ago I could get away with having a pretty bad diet and not training as hard as I could. If I do that now my fitness starts to knock off incredibly quickly. In the past three or four years I’ve started to be much more disciplined with my diet and try to keep off the booze during heavy training periods.
What physical aspect of yourself are you most proud of?
I don’t think I’m particularly proud of any particular physical aspect. I have quite a big arse, it has to be said, and I have a funny walk.
What will be unique about a London Olympics?
Well, I’ve been to a lot of Olympics now and I think what we’re going to have is a real friendliness and party atmosphere. It’s going to be about the public getting into it, having a good time and getting a real party atmosphere going.