Emsworth sailor still on course for Olympic success

Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson in Star class action  Picture by Skandia Team GBR
Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson in Star class action Picture by Skandia Team GBR

Iain Percy insists this week’s Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta is the perfect chance to further prove to his London 2012 rivals that he and partner Andrew Simpson are in the shape of their lives.

The Emsworth sailor’s Olympic credentials were cast into doubt at the end of last year when he was forced to pull out of the World Championships in Perth with a back injury.

However the 36-year-old proved he was back to his best at the Star World Championships last month when he and Simpson claimed silver in France.

The Skandia regatta – which began on Monday but stages its medal races from tomorrow – throws up another chance to get one over on his rivals.

But the Weymouth event holds some painful memories from last year – Percy and co ending well down the field in fifth.

Percy has eyes only for the positives as he warms up for one of the last chances to spar with his Olympic rivals ahead of the Games kicking off on July 27.

“We are in a much better place this year than last year so it will be a good chance to see where we are against our rivals,” said Skandia Team GBR sailor Percy.

“I’ve worked hard on my back, I’m back to 100 per cent now, if anything I feel like I am as fit as I have ever been because we’ve put in the hours in the gym to get that side of things right.

“But we have been working very hard on all areas to be quite honest, the whole emphasis of our lives recently has been long days, on the water, in the gym, trying to make those small incremental gains and we’re in a good place now.

“We have done a lot of work to try and rectify the problems from last year when the Brazilians beat us pretty well.

“For one reason or another we weren’t very fast against the wind, especially in strong winds, which was very frustrating because that used to be one of our strengths.

“But we went away and had to do a bit of an appraisal and have got a different boat now, we have adjusted the set-up and this year we have been going a lot faster.

“The result at the worlds showed everyone that we are back and fast – they know we are going well again which they won’t like as much.”

The pairing who Percy and co are most keen to issue an Olympic message to this week are Brazilians Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada, who won the World Championships in Hyeres and last year’s Sail for Gold regatta.

But while many seem fixated by the prospect of home advantage at London 2012, Percy insists victory this week and at London 2012 would be in spite of – not because of – their familiarity with the Weymouth waters.

“There are a couple of our rival teams that are very strong. The Brazilians are multiple medallists as well as a few others that we are right in the hunt with but we did just get pipped at the Worlds and had to settle for silver,” he added.

“We know the Brazilians are very strong round here. Last year they did very well so it’s a good chance to see where they are at. Everyone says a home Olympics is a massive advantage but historically in sailing that has not been the case at all – it’s been a disadvantage if anything.”

Investment specialist Skandia is the principal sponsor of the British sailing team. For more information go to www.skandiateamgbr.com