Boats and babies

Shirley Robertson announces her crew, sponsorship and personal plans in the run up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Friday March 3rd 2006, Author: Jo Grindley, Location: United Kingdom
Double Olympic gold medal winning yachtswoman, Shirley Robertson today (3 March 2006) announced her two new crew, her title sponsor, her two supporting partners and the news that she is due to give birth in July – to twins.

Annie Lush and Lucy Macgregor join Team Shirley Robertson to campaign for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, with Volvo as their principal sponsor and the Isle of Wight Economic Partnership and BT as supporting partners. The three girls are part of Skandia Team GBR. They are also all individually supported by UK Sport.

Together with her crew , Shirley will be going for a third gold in Beijing, which would make her the greatest British female Olympian of all time.

Annie Lush, 26, from Poole in Dorset has an impressive sailing pedigree. She is currently ISAF Woman’s Match World Champion and is also two times winner of the Rolex Cup: International Woman’s Keelboat Championships.

Annie started sailing as a child but became heavily involved in rowing at Cambridge University, receiving a Woman’s Blue in 2001 as a member of the winning women’s crew. She hit the ‘rowing versus sailing’ crossroads during her last year at Cambridge, choosing sailing as she believed she was too small for rowing and wanted the greater intellectual challenge of sailing.

Lucy Macgregor, 19 also from Poole in Dorset, is a product of the RYA youth squad, competing in Mirrors, 420s and 470s internationally. Lucy gained her place on the Yngling having beaten off stiff competition in what was dubbed the ‘Yngling X-Factor’ last October.

Shirley comments: “We embarked on our own ‘X Factor’ competition to find our bow girl. Despite her age, Lucy was the immediate and obvious choice. She has a huge amount of natural talent and a completely unflappable nature. Her thirst for knowledge and her desire to be the best is infectious and it won’t be long before she’s telling me what to do!”

Volvo Car UK, Isle of Wight Economic Partnership and BT have all returned to back Shirley and her team again, following their previous support which helped her sail to victory with her crew Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb in Athens. “It was a huge pleasure to work with these sponsors last time around. Their enthusiasm for the next venture is a hugely positive step in our campaign.”

Of her title sponsor Shirley commented: “It’s a great fit for us. Volvo has an understanding of striving towards excellence, of never settling for second best and of course always looking to make continuous improvements.”

Hugh Reid, MD, Volvo Car UK Ltd, returned the compliment: “As an outstanding sailor and great ambassador for her sport, we were pleased to have Shirley as a founding member of Team Volvo for Life. We are delighted to be able to extend our support to Shirley and her campaign for a third gold medal at Beijing.”

Talking about her other partners, Shirley explained: “I love living on the Isle of Wight and am proud to be an ambassador to their ‘Inspire’ programme, and hopefully show people what a great place it is to work and play!”

“BT has been part of the team since my success in Sydney and I was thrilled last year to work with them in their sponsorship of the London 2012 bid.”

Speaking about probably her greatest challenge this year, the news that she and husband Jamie are expecting twins, Shirley explained: “Jamie and I are delighted at the prospect of becoming parents. There are 29 months until Beijing and I’m confident that there is enough time to have the twins and run a great campaign for Beijing. There are many women that succeed at having a family and successful career and – like them - my goal is to do both to the best of my ability.”

“I have had a winter’s training with my new team and we feel strong as a crew. This summer the girls have a very full programme that will probably include the Yngling Worlds, a UK based well run Etchells campaign, to include the Etchells European Championship and some SB3 racing - two of the most competitive keelboat classes in the UK. The idea is to provide Annie and Lucy with the opportunity to sail, and learn, with a number of highly experienced male and female sailors to further improve their skills. Annie will continue to match race with American Sally Barkow as part of her World beating match race crew”.

“Obviously I won’t be actually racing again until the end of the year but I’m fully committed to managing the campaign and planning the training/racing for the girls and the boat over the next six months. If everything goes to plan, I’ll be back on the water in the early autumn.”

More photos on the following pages...

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