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Sailing's stereotypes dispelled in new film

Written by Will Carson 25th July 2022 Chasing Tokyo, Featured-post, Tokyo 2020

British sailing veteran Luke Patience hopes the upcoming Olympic Channel behind-the-scenes documentary ‘Chasing Tokyo’ dispels the sport’s lingering misconceptions.

The 35-year-old was part of a group of sailors who took part in the film, which chronicles the British Sailing Team’s unprecedented 18-month journey as the Covid pandemic delayed the Tokyo games.

Patience, who won a silver medal in the men’s 470 at London 2012, wants the film to highlight the normality of the team in the hope it can provide a boost to the sport’s overall popularity.

He said: “Perhaps there’s a perception historically of being a middle-class sport and something only the rich can access. But it’s absolutely not that whatsoever.

“There was a time me and my parents lived in a caravan because we had no money. You know we’re not a wealthy family, I just had a dream and wanted to pursue it.

“Sailing is quite a difficult sport to cover in the media because it’s not got obvious lines with a start and finish. It’s quite a dynamic sport so it’s hard to follow so it’s really important to get stuff like this out there for us to showcase what we do.

“It’s the most wonderfully complex sport filled with variables left, right and centre and it’s absurdly hard to master. So, I’m hoping it’ll show that we’re just a bunch of normal human beings that ultimately just had dreams as small kids to represent our country and chased it hard.”

Chasing Tokyo is set to be released on July 28, marking a decade since the London Olympics where British Sailing chipped in with their customary horde of shiny silverware. Five on that occasion for Olympic sailing’s most successful team.

Yet, aside from the spotlight the sport enjoys every four years, sailing has often struggled to appeal to a wider audience.

The Aberdeen-born sailor described how proud he was to be part of the process while shedding light on the considerations of giving up access in the run up to an Olympic Games.

He said: “I think your natural reaction is to protect your medal quest, things like that are nice to haves. It’s natural for you to go ‘well is this the right thing to do for gold medals?’ In the end it’s not that it’s right for gold medals but it’s not that it’s wrong either. Some people kept strong and just didn’t want to be part of it and that’s absolutely fine, it’s different for everyone.

“It’s a really cool and rare thing for us to be able to film the questions through that period and I sort of imagine how it might seem and feel when I’m old and grey, when you look back on that time as a young lad. I’m really grateful we got the chance to be followed and watched and interviewed through that time.  I’m excited to see how it all turns out.”

About the author

Will Carson