Sailing - Park wants GB sailors to look to Rio

Stephen Park wants Britain's sailors to use this week's test regatta in Santander to prepare for the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships, which will double-up as qualification for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

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Sailing - Park looks to continue British sailing medal success
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Stephen Park, sailor (PA)

Britain have 25 sailors in action in Santander, the host venue for the multi-class World Championships, which act as the first qualifying event for the Rio 2016 Olympics, in exactly one year's time.

All ten Olympic sailing classes will converge on Spain next year with Britain having representatives in seven at the test event this week, all expect the Finn, 49er and 49erFX.

Olympic medallists Hannah Mills, Saskia Clark, Luke Patience, Joe Glanfield, Nick Dempsey and Bryony Shaw head up the 25-strong British team at the Santander City Trophy.

Alison Young, who claimed bronze at the Laser Radial European Championships last week, is also on the team as is Olympic Yngling champion from Beijing 2008 Pippa Wilson with John Gimson in the Nacra 17.

RYA Olympic Manager Park, who is leading the British team for his fourth Games cycle, has urged to his sailors the importance of getting to know the Santander waters inside out.

"The 2014 World Championships will be the first qualifying event for the Olympic Games in 2016, qualifying 50 per cent of the nations to take part at the Olympic Games in 2016," said Park.

"It's going to be the biggest event for the Olympic sailing classes in this four-year cycle and arguably, for a lot of the nations, the more important one.

"From a British team perspective the 2014 worlds, as with every World Championship, will be an important part of the four-year programme and the main opportunity this week is for our sailors, coaches and support staff to make sure they've got good familiarity with Santander both on and off the water.

"This initial groundwork will help ensure that when they come back in 2014 that ultimately they have everything under control and are able to focus entirely on the racing on a day to day basis with the aim of maximising our potential for good results at the 2014 World Championships."

Britain have a fine record at the all-encompassing World Championships having won six medals at both the Perth regatta in December 2011 and the Cascais regatta in July 2007.

And Park believes performances in Santander this time next year will have a say in determining who does and doesn't represent Britain at the Rio 2016 Olympic regatta.

"The event itself from a sailor perspective, as one of the World Championships in the couple of years running up to the Games, will certainly play a part in the minds of the Olympic selection process," he added.

"Whether it becomes one of the defined events for the Olympic selection process of course time will tell.

"But as a World Championship two years out from the Olympic Games certainly the selection committee are going to be keeping a good eye on those results as sailors begin to set out their stall for the final run-in to the Olympic year just over 12 months later."

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