FRIENDSHIP and more than a decade’s experience is set to give Portland’s Sonar Team the edge in their mission for Queen and country.

For helmsman John Robertson, winning gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games with teammates Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas would mark the realisation of an 11-year dream.

Robertson, of Castletown, said the team’s close friendship and longevity was their biggest strength and they cannot wait to go out and win on home waters this September.

He said: “We all get on really well.

“We are all pretty nice, genuine people and when you are with someone for that period of time you realise people can be nice all the time, you don’t have to hide anything – you can just be honest with people and enjoy what you’re doing.

“Just being good friends and there for each other.”

Robertson, 40, started Sailing dinghies in Sunderland at the age of 11 but did not initially enjoy the sport.

He said: “It was freezing cold in the North East and capsizing and floating around the water and wetsuits weren’t as good back in the day. You did get a bit chilly.”

Robertson joined the RAF and continued to develop his sailing skills but in 1994 he was involved in a motorcycle accident that left him paralysed from the chest down.

He was invalided out of the RAF and later did an outward bound course in the Lake District with a spinal injuries charity which had Paralympics trimarans.

When asked if he found the boat gave him his freedom back, he said: “I think freedom is a bit cheesy.

“It’s just a nice thing to do and a nice pastime to do and realising that even though you’re disabled you can get out there by yourself and just sail round.”

Robertson, Stodel and Thompson have represented Great Britain in the last two Paralympics, in Beijing and Athens, finishing sixth at both.

They have since won gold twice on home waters at the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta 2011 and 2012 and claimed silver at last year’s Paralympic test event, the IFDS World Championships.

Robertson said: “Gold is the dream – saying any medal will do isn’t good enough.

“It’s every athlete’s dream.”

For the past week, since the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy began preparations for the London 2012 lockdown, Stodel and Thomas have been training in Falmouth, where they will remain throughout the Olympics.

Robertson will be joining them today, as he has spent the past week at his family home in Sunderland recovering from a stomach bug.

He said: “I’m feeling a bit washed out, it’s not ideal, but better to get ill now than closer to the Paralympics.

“I’m looking forward to joining the team in Falmouth and getting back into training.”

Robertson urged spectators to support the Paralympic sailing events in Portland Harbour.

The events do not have an official ticketed spectator site so people will be able to gather with flags and banners at the Nothe Gardens viewpoint and see the action on big screens at the ICCI 360 arena, on Weymouth Pavilion’s forecourt.

He added: “I’m hoping people will come and have a look and have a splash about on the beach and have a bit of a sail and support Team GB.

“We are all doing it for Queen and country and everything and that’s part of it, really.

“If you see the support it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.”