Our Olympic Team: Stuart Bithell, Portland's 470 sailor

Dorset Echo: Stuart Bithell Stuart Bithell

SKANDIA Team GBR is the British Sailing Team in the Olympic and Paralympic classes.

The team consists of the Performance Squad and Development and Transitional squads, which jointly total around 70 sailors. The sailors train and compete across 10 Olympic Classes and three Paralympic Classes.

In a Dorset Echo column, Skandia Team GBR members are bringing insight into the campaign for glory this summer.

Here’s Portland’s 470 sailor and Team Volvo for Life member Stuart Bithell, who sails with Luke Patience.

THIS is my last week off before the Games.

Yesterday I went to Wimbledon, I had to camp out on Sunday for centre court tickets.

Goody (Paul Goodison) got free ones – that’s the benefit of getting a gold medal.

I went up with a few members of the sailing team and friends.

Today I’m off to north Wales for a few days to relax and hold a fitness camp. I intend on walking up Snowdonia a couple of times and another mountain, it’s a bit of a hiking holiday.

I’m staying in Abersoch, I used to go there as a nipper for holidays and I love the place, it’s by the sea so there are lovely beaches.

It’s nice to get away for a bit. Then we come back and the official venue will be on lockdown so we’ll be training out of a local sailing club for a week or two.

We’ll have a couple more coaches’ regattas where the coaches run everything and we don’t need official race staff.

The coaches make great race officers, they know what’s going on.

My girlfriend, Sophie Weguelin’s in the 470 development squad – we met through the system, and she’s a couple of years younger.

We sometimes race against each other in the qualifiers, which is good fun, but it’s horrendous when I get beaten by her; there’s endless banter off everyone else, the coaches saying: ‘You got beaten by your girlfriend.’ There’s a huge amount of experience in Skandia Team GBR.

Me and Luke learn a lot from that – the older sailors are always happy to give advice and opinions.

It’s a great strength of the team that we can draw from that, Sparky (RYA Olympic manager Stephen Park) sets up sessions so we can get that experience and I’ve heard some of the older lads like Iain Percy say that they get a buzz from the enthusiasm of the nippers, so it works well for all.

I hope the weather stays nice until the first day of the Olympics.

Then I hope it rains all week because the foreigners hate it a lot more than the British!

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