All change among the girls

Sarah Ayton and Pippa Wilson announce their 470 campaign

Monday February 9th 2009, Author: Lindsey Bell, Location: United Kingdom
Sarah Ayton and Pippa Wilson – two of sailing’s gold medal-winning ‘three blondes’ – will campaign together in the two-person 470 class in a bid to win gold on home waters in 2012.

The 28-year-old Ayton and Wilson, 23, have today announced their intention to campaign towards a home Olympics in the women’s double-handed class following the removal of the Yngling from the 2012 events line-up last year.

For Wilson, it’s a familiar step as she was previously a successful 470 helm for Skandia Team GBR - finishing seventh at the 470 World Championship in 2005 - before making the jump to join Ayton and Sarah Webb as Yngling bowgirl in 2006. 

“When Pippa joined us in the Yngling, I knew she was an amazing talent,” Ayton explained.  “Her feel for the boat and tactical knowledge was a cut above the rest and I’m excited to be campaigning with her again for 2012 in a boat she already knows so well.”

Ayton and Wilson say the decision was ultimately an easy one, both in choosing to sail with one another and in sticking to their strengths in a fleet racing discipline, rather than opting to try the match racing format which was chosen in favour of the Yngling for the women’s keelboat event.

“Winning gold together is what gets us out of bed in the morning,” said Wilson.  “We love our sport and can't wait to transfer our winning formula into the 470 class.”

Ayton continued:  “We hope to continue working with our coach Paul Brotherton, as he was such a vital member of our team during the last cycle.

“Without him on board, it could have been a very different story for the ‘three blondes in a boat’, so for this to happen and for us to put a program together which gives us the best chance of winning, we need to raise money so are welcoming sponsors to join us in our quest for gold.”

If a change of boats wasn’t enough to contend with, Ayton has also revealed that she and her Olympic windsurfer husband Nick Dempsey are expecting their first baby in June, so it won’t be until 2010 that Ayton and Wilson will start their quest for 2012 selection in earnest.

“Nick and I are very happy and excited to be having a baby - it’s perfect timing, and I plan to be back in the 470 in November.  In the meantime, Pippa will be brushing up on her 470 skills and preparing herself physically for the job in hand.

“This next campaign is going to be tough but I know Pippa and I have what it takes,” said a resolute Ayton. “We are an incredibly strong team who complement each others’ skills on and off the water.”

As well as Ayton and Wilson’s switch to the 470, the Skandia Team GBR squad has also seen further changes for the new cycle, with Sarah Webb moving on from Olympic Classes sailing.

Beijing Laser Radial representative Penny Clark has also made the switch into the 470 class, where she will helm for Saskia Clark who finished sixth in the 470 women’s event at the Beijing Games with Christina Bassadone.

Bassadone herself has moved to sailing in the single-handed Laser Radial class, in which she finished fourth at this weekend’s Sail Auckland Olympic Classes Regatta in New Zealand.

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