British Sailing Team sets course to rule the waves in 2019

Thirteen golds, nine silvers and sixteen bronze.

That’s the impressive medal haul Britain’s elite sailors racked up in 2018 as they hurtle towards Tokyo 2020 with ever-increasing speed.

With the countdown to the next Olympics approaching the 18-month mark, the athletes of the British Sailing Team are closing the door on a successful 2018 and setting their sights firmly on the challenges 2019 has in store.

And they will begin the New Year on the crest of a wave, thanks to the 38-medal spree across class, World Cup and Eurosaf regattas that 2018 brought.

From the blistering season opener in Miami when British sailors won golds in four of the ten Olympic classes courtesy of Giles Scott, Ali Young, Dylan Fletcher/Stuart Bithell and Luke Patience/Chris Grube, to the victories of Elliot Hanson and James Peters/Fynn Sterritt in the Olympic venue of Enoshima, it has been a year to remember.

James Peters and Fynn Sterritt

Winners! James Peters and Fynn Sterritt celebrate their victory in the 49er class at WCS Enoshima. Sailing Energy/World Sailing

And then there was the season’s ultimate goal of qualifying Great Britain for a spot on the start line of each Tokyo 2020 fleet at the Sailing World Championships…

As team boss Mark Robinson put it following the regatta: “Job done.”

But despite the obvious success Robinson, who took over from long-term performance manager Stephen Park in 2017, says the team still has some way to go to be top of the pile by the time the Olympics kicks off in July 2020.

“As a team we had a good 2018,” said Robinson, who led the Australian Paralympic sailing team to two golds and silver at Rio 2016 prior to joining the British Sailing Team as Performance Manager.

“We brought home medals from all but a handful of the season’s major competitions and ultimately achieved our goal of qualifying the nation in every class for Tokyo 2020 at the World Championships, the only nation to do so.

“There were some incredible performances from our athletes including two golds, a silver and a bronze in the Olympic venue, and we certainly go into 2019 feeling buoyed by all we have achieved this year.

“That said, we’ve now got a big year ahead of us and with Tokyo 2020 just 18 months away no-one in the team is under any illusions as to the challenges that lie ahead.

“Our competitors continue to push us hard on the international stage and there is still much to be done to ensure we are in the best possible position in the lead-up to the next Olympics.”

The 2019 Olympic classes season begins in earnest with the Princess Sofia Trophy regatta in Palma in April, kick-starting a jam-packed programme that culminates in the Tokyo 2020 test event in Enoshima in August.

And with a fresh influx of talented young sailors joining the team, including a host of world-class kitefoilers, it looks set to be a bumper year.

For Robinson and his sailors, the goal is crystal clear.

“Make no mistake: we remain totally committed to our goal of topping the sailing medal table at Tokyo 2020,” he said.