Getting ahead in the Yngling

Shirley Robertson discusses her progress in the new Olympic keelboat
2002 was a mixed year for Shirley Robertson's Yngling team. Compared to fellow Gold medallists Iain Percy and Ben Ainslie's World Championship wins in their new classes, Robertson and her crew of Inga Leask and Sarah Ayton came a disapointing 16th at their World Championship in Switzerland, yet put in a fifth place at SPA, a third at Hyeres and a fourth at the Miami Olympic Class regatta. Currently they are lying 11th in the Yngling rankings. "New class, new crew, loads to learn, lots to do - we tried a few mad things which didn’t work," explains Robertson. "So to sum it up we were inconsistent. There were some occasions where we hit the spot randomly when it all kind of worked and other events when it all went horribly wrong. We came away from that with a bit more focus..." With the Yngling taking over from the Soling for Athens, it has been back to the drawing board in terms of technology. "It’s a brand new class with no history. So you have to experiment at some point and we had to make some decisions and there are so many variables going on and sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t quite happen. But three years away from the Games - that was the year to learn about the class, learn how the boat works and learn what makes it go fast and slow." Robertson says that they learned loads last year and she feels their results were good considering they lacked boat speed. While Percy has been getting to grips with sailing with a crew, Robertson has had experience of this running her match racing team, but she had other problems to contend with. "At our level of match racing we weren’t so involved with how to make