The Robert Scheidt Interview

Andy Rice spoke to the Laser World Champion in Rio, and asked him what he really thinks about Ben Ainslie
Despite the proliferation of the new classes on the sailing scene over the past decade, the Laser singlehander remains the quintessential dinghy, the purest sailing experience there is - even some 30 years after it came into being. Most of us have set foot in a Laser at some point in our sailing careers, so we all have some grasp of the type of athleticism involved in mastering what for many club sailors remains a beast of a boat. The appeal of such a strict one-design like the Laser is that it offers a level playing field - there is no advantage to be gained in buying more sails, masts or anything else because they are as near as dammit the same. So how has one sailor managed to dominate that level playing field for so long? Brazilian maestro Robert Scheidt won his fifth World Championship in Ireland last year. The only real blemishes on his near-perfect record have been caused by one man, Ben Ainslie. Ainslie is the only sailor to have taken a World Championship off Scheidt in six years, and is the man who so spectacularly ruined the Brazilian's defence of his Olympic title in Sydney a year and a half ago. But for sheer staying power, Scheidt remains the King of the Laser class. Gold in Savannah, silver in Sydney - how does he maintain the desire, fitness and motivation to aim for gold in Athens? Why not switch to a new challenge? These were the questions madforsailing put to the Brazilian superstar in Rio, where Robert Scheidt was acting as local ambassador for the Volvo Ocean Race. "I think the hardest thing for an athlete is to stay at the top, not to get to the top," he says. "But I think aim a lucky guy because I