Mark Lloyd / Extreme Sailing Series

Olympic sailors go Extreme 40ing

Volvo's Luke Patience and Paul Goodison on their catamaran experience their latest Olympic aspirations

Thursday August 30th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom

Volvo is supporting the Extreme Sailing Series in Cardiff and so this morning there were some very excited Team GBR sailors here, chomping at the bit to try their hand on one of the high speed Extreme 40 catamarans in today’s blustery conditions on Cardiff Bay.

Paul Goodison has been here in an official capacity, coaching the Oman Sail boats Oman Air and The Wave, Muscat. For someone who was supposed to be convalescing after his back injury during the Olympic Games, he seems to be very active still....

“I have torn a ligament,” Goodson says of his diagnosis. “Strangely they say the more active it is, the more blood flows to it and the quicker it will fix, but when it gets too sore they say to stop before I do any more damage. I was going to go sailing with Oman Air yesterday because Will [Howden] wasn’t very well, but I didn’t want to risk it...”

However he and girlfriend, 470 silver medallist Saskia Clark did take part in Mersea Week last week sailing an RS400. Goodison quips: “It was the only time we had a chance to be alone together! I helmed and didn’t do that much hiking...”

Goodison was a newcomer to catamaran racing up until this spring when he acquired an A-Cat, but this is his first Extreme 40 experience. “They are pretty cool boats. I haven’t been on a AC45, and it doesn’t look like you can drive them quite as hard as a 45, you have to shy away a bit.

“I can’t believe they race them in these tiny venues. When I first came here it was like ‘are we going out to sea?’ And Leigh [McMillan] was like ‘no’. It is pretty astounding how they get such big boats around such small areas. It is a completely different game. It is good to watch – there is a lot of crashing. You never get time to settle into it, so it is a completely different mindset.”

The medal race in the Olympics is conceptually a similar ‘stadium sailing’ experience to the Extreme Sailing Series only that here the race course is shorter and the Extreme 40s are bigger and faster by several factors than a Laser.

Goodison also observes that with in these cat races a very high percentage of the outcome is determined by the start. And so start practice is what he has had the Oman Sail crews have focussing on these last four days.

In terms of the Olympics going forwards, Goodison earlier this year told us he was contemplating a Star campaign (this was before it was dropped). However he is now looking at a number of options, from continuing in the Laser to a 49er or a mixed multihull - realistically for the latter he is too heavy.

“Rio is going to be light and more China-esque than Weymouth and looking at that, if I did another campaign, I don’t want to do what I did the last four years: in 2009, I won every event I went to: the Worlds, Europeans, Hyeres, SPA, Kiel. Then I realised that you can’t maintain that for four years. So if I am carrying on with the Laser I’d do the bare minimum - I guess two years or whatever I’m allowed to by the RYA and if that is not the case then maybe I'll look at some of the other classes like the cat or the 49er, something that is new and exciting and something that you can go out there and put work in and see rewards come in instantly.”

Whatever happens Goodison is keen to diversify his sailing and has some more Melges 32 competition scheduled. His regular ride with Torquay’s Joe Woods on Red is temporarily on hold as Woods recovers from an ankle problem. They were supposed to have been racing a Farr 400 at the Rolex Big Boat Series in San Francisco but that has had to be canned. However for the Melges 32 World Championship that is coming up in Newport, RI and the pre-Worlds before it, Goodison will be joining the famous Samba Pa Ti of John Kilroy.

Luke Patience

Pint-sized Scotsman and newly crowned 470 Men’s silver medallist, Luke Patience hasn't had such a clear-cut policy on preventing post-Olympic Games depression creeping in. “I don’t know the answer because everything is new: winning an Olympic medal is new, finishing an Olympic cycle is new," he says. "What I do feel is mad for it... I want to get back in boats, I want to go racing, I don’t care what it is, where it is - I just miss it already... But I am forcing myself to take a break or at least a break from Olympic sailing, because I think I’ll go demented otherwise.”

Patience had a go helming an Extreme 40 this morning. “It was fast, big... Everything reacts a bit differently – I haven’t sailed cats that much. You do different things at different points. You do what feels natural to you and it doesn’t quite respond the same way...”

Otherwise Patience is gagging to get out on some other boats. He is looking at other dinghy classes but the only certain regatta he and Bithell are doing together is the Endeavour Trophy, which they have been invited to compete in.

He observes that prior to the 470, he and his 470 crew Stuart Bithell's backgrounds, in terms of the boats they sailed, were very different. “Mine was set in stone, I did ‘the pathway’ - Optimists, 420s, 470s. He’s sailed Merlins, GP14s, Mirrors, Fireflys – it is a very Northern English thing that. He loves it.” Significantly Bithell, although he crews for Patience in the 470, usually prefers to helm. If they sail together in another boat this year Patience says he might even crew for Bithell “just for a bit of fun. Often in those hiking boats the crew is the small one anyway and the helm is the big one. He is so desperate to hold the stick that I can’t take that away from him. I’ll happily crew for him for a couple of weekends.”

With the 470, he and Bithell have confirmed they are gunning for Rio 2016 and Patience says he is currently working their program back from winning 470 gold in four years time. “It is all about peaking. I feel that now with the experience of being an Olympian and an Olympic medallist, I have a chunk of knowledge now to go forwards with to make good decisions that will help me to win a gold, whereas prior to the Olympics and prior to winning a medal, you don’t feel you have that knowledge.”

A vital part of their campaign for London 2012 was their American coach Morgan Reeser, himself a former Olympic 470 medallist. As yet it is unclear whether or not Reeser will be continuing with them. “He has been so good for us at the Games. He is a fantastic coach. He has been a good asset ot the team. I hope we can carry on with him at Olympic level...” says Patience of Reeser.

Patience reckons that he could be back in the 470 by the end of the year. Princess Sofia next year could be their first regatta or if there is a decent turn out for Rolex Miami OCS....



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