Two blondes in the boat


Photo: Mike Cooper
Double Gold medallist Sarah Ayton and Saskia Clark talk about their new Olympic 470 campaign
There’s nothing like getting a double Olympic Gold medallist to come and helm your 470, but this is the case for Saskia Clark who following a sixth place with Christina Bassadone on the tiller at the Beijing games, and a season with Pippa Wilson last year, now has Sarah Ayton on the stick. Ayton, who turned 30 last week, is one of the world’s most talented female sailors of her generation. Following the traditional path of Optimist-420-Laser Radial, she became a career Olympian, campaigning a Europe to the highest level, winning Spa Regatta in both 2000 and 2001 and Hyeres in 2001. However the shining light in the Europe within Team GBR at the time was of course Shirley Robertson, and with the Europe retired from Olympic disciplines post-Sydney, she joined Shirley Robertson in the bow of the Yngling for Athens where she won her first Gold medal. After Athens, Ayton then set up her own team taking the helm, with fellow Athens Yngling medallist Sarah Webb, with Pippa Wilson in the bow. Winning the World championship in 2007 and 2008, the ‘three blondes in a boat’ went into the Beijing Games as favourites and delivered, Ayton and Webb coming home with her second Golds. Following Beijing, Ayton dropped out of the limelight busy having her first child, son Thomas, with husband Olympic Mistral bronze medallist Nick Dempsey (the Skandia Team GBR gene pool also remains small with Ayton’s 470 crew, Saskia Clark hooked up with Laser Gold medallist and World Champion, Paul Goodison). Since last year she has been looking at her options when it comes to her future Olympic sailing. The obvious move, which many other former Yngling sailors have chosen is go down the Women’s Match Racing route on the Elliott 6m. However Lucy Macgregor and her team were quick

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