Rio Here I Come

SAIL1In this month’s British Sailing Team column, 49erFX sailor Charlotte Dobson shares her joy at finally becoming an Olympic Games ‘bride’.

It is an absolutely incredible feeling to have been officially selected for my first Olympic Games. It has been such a long time coming. I have done two cycles as the bridesmaid and this time it is so amazing to be the bride.

As a single-handed Laser Radial sailor for the past two campaigns, it is also really cool to have qualified alongside Sophie [Ainsworth] in a team. It almost makes it feel a little bit more special being able to share it with somebody.

My friends and family are all absolutely thrilled; they are probably the mega fans. I think they are possibly even more excited about me going to Rio than I am. It is great to see their enthusiasm and what it means to them because they invest so much time, energy and sacrifice in support of your Olympic campaign. They have been a massive part of our journey so far and I know they will be in this final lead in to Rio as well.

NEW CLASS

The 49erFX is a new class for Rio, providing exciting, high performance skiff racing for the girls. The boats are quite a beast to tame and when we first got our hands on them in September 2013 it was quite an experience. We tried to launch them and we could not!

It has been an amazing cycle to be involved with because you are at the bottom of the learning curve. Every month you are making really big changes and you can see improvements every day. That is really exciting and puts loads of energy into your campaign.
I think the FX is a really exciting discipline and no-one is really dominant at the moment as crews learn at different rates. In the last three Championships there have been nine different medallists and there is a group of us that are really interchanging all the time.

Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth, 49er FX. ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, USA, 2015. Image: British Sailing Team

Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth, 49er FX. ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, USA, 2015. Image: British Sailing Team

UP FOR GRABS

I doubt you will be able to call where the medals in Rio are going to come from until the week beforehand, which is a really great place to be. That means we really need to put our heads down and get as much progress as we possibly can between now and the start of the Games.

We have made quite a big step forward in the last six months. Soph and I feel like we are able to really challenge for the medals two-thirds of the way through regattas but we have not yet quite managed to solve it for the last third.

But we are in the really fortunate position where, within the British Sailing Team and particularly the sailors who are selected for Rio, we are surrounded by medallists and really experienced people. I am hoping we can take the energy from others in the team and try and sort that last little bit of the regatta out and really be challenging hard for the medals come August.

WIN FOR ALL

You see how once people are selected they slightly change and I think when I woke up the morning after selection it did not feel so much of a personal challenge any more. It is a personal ambition to win a gold medal, but it is more of an honour. There are a lot of people behind you in the British Sailing Team, and in the wider Team GB with the other sports. You are racing for Queen and country.

It feels like a lot of responsibility, for all the people that have not been selected and for the people who have been selected in the past to make them proud and continue what is an amazing Olympic sailing heritage in Great Britain. I know Sophie and I will be doing all we can to play our part in that.

The National Lottery-funded British Sailing Team is proudly supported by official partners Volvo Car UK, Zhik and Peters & May. Follow the team’s latest news and updates at britishsailingteam.com or on Twitter @BritishSailing

COUNTDOWN TO RIO: 4 MONTHS