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Sarah Ayton talks to WSR about her career and skippering her own boat!

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Sarah Ayton talks to WSR about her career and skippering her own boat!

Sarah, many thanks for agreeing to do this interview with us!

1. You must have been ecstatic when you pulled in the first British gold medal with team Shirley Robertson at the Summer Olympics 2004. We'd like to hear more about your career as a sailor! Growing up in Weymouth must have been brilliant because you had the facilities right in your "backyard" so to speak. You started sailing at the age of 6, what made you want to pursue a career as a sailor?

My parents were really keen for my Brother Daniel and I to have a hobby. We tried lot's of different sports but sailing was the one we both loved. It's funny really because we lived in Ashford Middlesex and the reservoir Queen Mary was where we learnt to sail, it was just 3 minutes down the road and we didn't even know it was there!

I sailed at Queen Mary for 10years before moving to Weymouth with my boyfriend Nick Dempsey. Being a member of a good club was brilliant as there was always a person to sail with and in many different types of boat which built up experience and put me in good shape for when I decided to go Olympic Sailing.

Throughout my sailing career I've always been very goal driven and sailing had kept me challenged and enthused every step of the way. It's such a in depth sport which requires you to be very dynamic in your thinking and very hands on and connected when your sailing.

Winning Gold was an amazing moment, it's strange when I've won other events you feel good but there's still this big urge to be better, to win by more but when we won gold I know I was the best and the sense of achievement was great.

2. Are your parents into sailing?

No my mum is scared of the water and my dad gets scared when the bots leans over!

3.When did you decide to become competitive and at what age did you report your first successes?
From the age of 13 I used to crew a guy at my local club and we'd win various events.

4. Which successes meant the most to you on a personal level?

Of course my Olympic Gold, mainly because when I was standing on the podium with the medal I was sharing our success with all the people that have been involved with my sailing career.

5. Which training do you undertake to stay fit?

Running and cycling.


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6. Do you follow any specific diets to maintain your weight but to still be able to have enough energy to skipper your boat?


We have a weight limit in our class so I have a target weight. It is slightly lower then my natural body weight so I have to work hard to maintain it.
I avoid eating white bread, sugar and eat lots of fruit and Veg.


7. When you were part of the Shirley Robertson team you were a very successful and rapidly improving team. Shirley then took some time out to have her twins and you decided to form your own team, meaning competing against Shirley and her new crew. What were your reasons to set up your own team?

I just wanted to get started and needed to new challenge.

8. How do you feel about the fact that you're going to compete against your former team mate (mentor)?

She is just another competitor in a white boat with the rest of the fleet.


9. How would you encourage young girls and women to pursue a successful career in Yngling?

Firstly I have to say there are many other classes of boats you could try! The yngling is a very expensive class of boat and takes a lot of organisation. Finding a crew can also be hard, I'm very lucky to be sailing with Sarah and Pippa not only are they very talented sailors they are experienced Olympic campaigners.

If you want to get involved into Olympic sailing then you are best to look at the RYA website to check out the Olympic classes. It is important to pick a boat that suits your build and style of sailing.

10. What are the local contacts, ie the Weymouth area to get into Yngling/Sailing?

Ynglings aren't the best boat to learn in the UK as there isn't a fleet of boats. Most sailing centres have Picco's , lasers, Laser 4000 which will over you a lot of fun.

Check out the RYA site to find our nearest sailing school.


11. And here is the last question, something we ask everyone J Are you hopeful, that media attention will change through websites like ours and efforts of charities such as the WSF and more promotion for the ladies who work so hard to become established and receive sponsorship for something they are as good at as their male counterparts?

Of course media promotion is important especially covering minority sports. Sailing is an expensive sport and without sponsors then there is no chance I could be competing. Having won Gold in Athens sponsorship didn't come easy, it was hard work for Sarah and I. There came a point when we were almost forced to give up before securing our title sponsor Mirabaud. I have also been very fortunate to become part of Team B&Q. As part of B&Q's commitment to Team GB, the company is supporting a squad of its' very own Olympians and aspiring Olympians, who are aiming to be selected for Beijing in 2008. Team B&Q consists of a number of Paralympians and aspiring Paralympians in their quest for success in Beijing (www.teambandq.com).

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