The 31-year-old – a former New Zealand world number one who finished seventh at the most recent RS:X Worlds in 2008 – has been drafted accepted into the Skandia Team GBR squad in a bid to develop strength in depth RS:X squad in the build-up to 2012.
Following the retirement of Leo McCallin this summer Nick Dempsey became the only sailor in the RS:X men’s performance programme, with Elliot Carney and Richard Hamilton cutting their teeth in the transitional squad.
RYA squad managers believe the inclusion of Tobin – who holds a British passport and approached the RYA expressing his desire to compete for GBR – will help push the standard of the RS:X squad in the build-up to a home Games at Weymouth and Portland in 2012.
RYA Racing Manager/Performance Director John Derbyshire explained: “Jon-Paul is a skilled dual passport holder whose international experience in this instance can only enhance and strengthen our quest for 2012 medals, and provide another benchmark for our youngsters who we realistically feel are more likely to be ready for 2016.”
It will take three years for Tobin to meet eligibility requirements to compete for Great Britain, having previously represented New Zealand in an ISAF event, but given his track record the RYA have decided to support him, with the same conditions that all Skandia Team GBR squad members have in respect of annual re-qualification.
“Some feel that such a move could impact negatively on young sailors coming up through the programme,” Derbyshire continued. “But at the end of the day every sailor on the Skandia Team GBR programme has performance targets against which they must deliver, or risk losing their squad status and funding. On balance, we believe this will help youngsters benchmark their progress and keep pushing our elite sailors to even higher levels.
“We’re confident that this is a beneficial move for all the RS:X squad sailors at a time when we are in need of a high level of competition for our top sailors – especially in the windsurfing disciplines – to keep on raising the standard.”
“As a British passport holder but living and sailing for NZL in the past, I have always looked to the Team GBR programme as the world’s best and several times have thought about sailing with GBR on my sail,” Tobin explained.
“With the Games being in Weymouth and Portland in 2012 I decided the time is right to move to the UK and make the positive step of sailing for GBR.
“Fortunately the Skandia Team GBR programme has agreed to support me which is a real boost. I can’t wait to start working with the team.”
Tobin will compete at this week’s Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (16-20 September).