I came across the photo because, with the Olympic Classes racing at Weymouth this week in the last World Cup meeting before Rio 2016, I was reminded that I needed to complete a job that I should have finished some time ago.
Last year I wrote some notes of on the Optimist Selection Trials of 1988, and I intended to follow up with notes on 1989. But I never did.
So I decided to get them done, and came cross the photo.
Incredibly, the 1989 video is even more boring than the 1988 one - at least in '88 it was windy and wavy. This is the full video, but (unless you are particularly masochistic) I don't recommend that you watch it all the way through. However, like the 1988 video, there are some interesting facts about it which I've listed below:
- The most interesting fact about this video is that there are four future Olympic Gold Medallists in it.
- Ben Ainslie (sailing K-3359) finished 3rd overall, and qualified for the Worlds team. Here he is (aged 12) rounding a leeward mark;
- Iain Percy (K-3282) qualified for the Europeans by finishing in 10th. This is a clip of him leading the first race.
- Sarah Webb (K-2575) was also racing - here she is rounding the leeward mark in her best race that year.
- Andrew "Bart" Simpson (K-3354) finished just outside European qualification in 13th. Here he is rounding the top mark in race 4 in second.
A friend of mine who was also at the event (he came second, and won three of the races) reckons that Chris Draper and Nick Rogers might have been racing as well, which would mean that there were a grand total of 15 future Olympic medals in the fleet. Unfortunately, according to my research, they didn't sail in this event, meaning there were only 9 future Golds, and 3 future Silvers.
- Although you could say there was one more Gold. Robert Wilson also qualified for the Worlds team, and I believe he went on to coach the Helena Lucas to a Paralympic Gold medal in the 2.4m class. I think Rob now works on the Landrover BAR America's Cup team as a coach. Here he is sailing K-3126 and rounding a windward mark in 1st place in the first race.
For any catamaran sailors, he's also written some very good articles on Tacking and Gybing a Cat, and on Tuning an Asymmetric. And here's a nice video of him sailing a Formula 18:
- None of these future Olympic medallists won the event, though. Jon Gorrod won the seven race series by an impressive 24.7 points, despite winning just one race. He finished in the top 6 in every race, whilst every other sailor had at least two double-digit results. Goes to show that then, like now, consistency counts.
- With all the controversy over Olympic team selection this year, it is also interesting to note that this isn't a new issue. As you can see from this video, the whole 1989 Optimist selection series was sailed in light winds, but the Worlds that year were sailed in very windy conditions. The team struggled with the 25+ knot breezes, and when the wind dropped on the final day they showed what might have been, recording a 4th, 5th, 13th, 31st and 45th.
The same issue had occured the previous year, with the selection trials sailed in heavy winds, and the worlds sailed in relatively light breezes. In 1991 the format was changed and the trials were sailed over 3 events in an attempt to mitigate against the problem repeating itself a third time.
I suppose I should mention my own performance. Once again, as with so much of my life, my parents need to take a long, hard look at themselves. The only reason I didn't qualify for a team in '89 was because they failed me: had I been born a girl then I could well have been heading to the Europeans that year. As it was, they decided to have a boy, and so I didn't get anywhere near the boys team, finishing 32nd. Here I am rounding a windward mark in around 10th place - it was about as good as it got for me that week: