Olympic Performance Manager Mark Robinson says France are the sailors to beat

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Sailing - Men's 470 - Opening Series - Enoshima Yacht Harbour - Tokyo, Japan - July 29, 2021. Luke Patience and Chris Grube of Britain in action. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Sailing - Men's 470 - Opening Series - Enoshima Yacht Harbour - Tokyo, Japan - July 29, 2021. Luke Patience and Chris Grube of Britain in action. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

The Royal Yachting Association’s Olympic Performance Manager Mark Robinson believes that France are the team to beat at Paris 2024 despite his side’s impressive pedigree.

Marseille will host the sailing at the Olympics with kite surfing set to make its bow, with Robinson explaining how the equipment chosen favours the French.

Team GB won five medals at Tokyo 2020 to top the table but the Australian believes it will be hard going to catch France with a year fewer in the Olympic cycle after Tokyo was delayed.

He said: “We still want to be the best team in the world, which in sailing, typically means you need to win at least two gold medals.

“If you win three generally, you'll be the top nation. I think we're in with a shot of winning a good number of medals, and it's probably a little bit early to tell how many of those might be gold.

“We need another year of it because there's been so little competition with the pandemic and some of the classes are new.

“You've got to take a while for them to settle down or the pecking order to start settling down.

“I think the new classes probably do favour the host nation, France, particularly in the boards.

“I think the kites and windsurfers, because the equipment they’ve chosen has semi-professional leagues outside of the Olympics, of which the French already had a number of sailors competing in those leagues, so they had a bit of a head start.

“But we’re catching them pretty quickly. As I said, it's just, it's just a matter of how much runway do you need to take off the gold?”

Robinson was speaking ahead of the release of ‘Chasing Tokyo’ an Olympic Channel behind-the-scenes documentary that followed the British Sailing Team in the build-up to Tokyo.

With Tokyo wrapped up, he did not have long to say goodbye to his outgoing gold medallists before beginning the campaign for more Olympic success at Paris 2024.

Double Olympic champions Hannah Mills and Giles Scott have retired from Olympic sailing with their events not included for 2024, while Stuart Bithell is taking on a new challenge in SailGP.

The trio were part of eight retirees from the British Sailing Team announced last year, with Bithell’s partner Dylan Fletcher calling time on his Olympic career this week.

And with Paris quickly coming into view, Robinson is fully focussed on producing the next crop of Olympic champions.

“Change is inevitable,” the Australian said. “I mean, I won't be running the team forever. So yes, we've lost quite a few.

“We lost the events for the Finn and the women’s 470 doesn't exist anymore, it's a mixed boat and the Finn isn't in the Games anymore, so that was sort of a natural thing.

“That is why you have a big squad, you're always looking two or three cycles out, going back to when we kept the Tokyo squad after the Games were postponed, so we'd already pick the team and we kept it together.

“We split the team into two, so project 2024 and those dealing with Tokyo. There's athletes on the team now that probably won't make it to 2024, but they are targeting 2028.

“The simple answer is it’s never easy to let go of a gold medalist because you think they could do it again, provided they’ve got age on their side.”

“But that's just the nature of it. It is hard, it is a lot of dedication to win an Olympic medal, it's hard to do it for 20 years.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting