SAILING: Guanabara test for star sailors

Dorset Echo: SELECT TEAM: The British Sailing Team squad for the 2014 Olympic Test Event in Rio at the Weymouth & Portland Sailing Academy SELECT TEAM: The British Sailing Team squad for the 2014 Olympic Test Event in Rio at the Weymouth & Portland Sailing Academy

RYA OLYMPIC manager Stephen Park has stressed the importance of the Test Event being staged on Guanabara Bay, Brazil, in August.

The regatta (August 2-9) is the first official Test Event for any Olympic sport, and will see 30 British sailors across 10 Olympic Classes joining their international rivals on the 2016 racecourses, as the preparation and focus towards the Rio Games steps up a gear.

The selected team comprises a mix of established Olympians and international medallists as well as new young talents, and was unveiled on the final day of the Sail for Gold Regatta – the third leg of the EUROSAF Champion Sailing Cup series – staged at the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy.

Among those named are Weymouth world champion windsurfer Nick Dempsey and Portland-based Giles Scott and Luke Patience.

Selections were based on results at a range of international regattas, with final decisions still to be made in the Laser and Laser Radial events.

Park said: “The Rio Test Event for a lot of sailors and a lot of the teams, is really the first big marker in the journey to the Games.

“It’s the first real competition on those Olympic race areas. The sailors have to really get their teeth into the Olympic venue and start to feel what it’s going to be like in 2016.

“In terms of outcomes, for us, the most important thing is just about trying to learn from that experience, both in terms of the sailors learning about Rio and about Brazil, and about living and managing to perform in a new and strange environment with a slightly different culture.

“It’s about building that familiarity, but on the other side we’re keen to make sure that where there are opportunities for some of our sailors to log in some good results, then clearly we’re pretty keen to take them as well.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to come away with maybe three medals, but really more importantly than that it is about everybody taking every opportunity that exists through our time in Rio to really learn through that process and come away with some lessons in place for events that will take place throughout 2015 into the 2015 Test Event, and of course into 2016 for the Games itself.

“We’re under no illusions – it’s more competitive that it’s ever been, certainly at this stage two years out from the Games,” Park added. “There’s a lot of hard work still to go, and if our sailors want to win medals they’re going to have to keep pushing, every single day.”

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