Goodison looking for payback 

more features

Paul Goodison admits he will be looking for “payback” as he bids to put the disappointment of Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta silver behind him and retain his Laser World crown.  

Claiming his first World Championship title in Nova Scotia, Canada last August came towards the end of emphatic 2009 season for the Beijing 2008 Olympic champion, during which he remained unbeaten for five consecutive regattas, earning him a nomination for the coveted ISAF Sailor of the Year.  

However fearing the possibility of burn-out in the build up to London 2012, Goodison opted to put his Olympic sailing activities on the backburner over the winter to get some big boat sailing under his belt end enjoy some time focussing on a different part of the sport.  

Throughout the first half of this year he combined his lower key Laser racing outings with a successful Melges 32 campaign as tactician aboard Joe Woods’ Red, including winning the Melges 32 Europeans in May.   Making no secret of his desire to lay an early claim to supremacy on the 2012 Olympic racetrack at Weymouth and Portland, Goodison ramped his Laser campaign back up in preparation for the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta at the start of the August.  

But having been forced to play second fiddle to Australia’s two-time World champion Tom Slingsby at Sail for Gold, Goodison insists he now has an added incentive to reclaim his World title when the 2010 Laser World Championships get underway at Hayling Island Sailing Club on Monday 30 August.  

He said: “Sail for Gold was the big one for me this year but having not achieved my goal of winning that regatta the Worlds is definitely an opportunity for payback time, I want to get my own back.  

“I was disappointed and frustrated with my result at Sail for Gold, it came down to a couple of decisions and there was one day in particular when I didn’t start as well as I could have done and been as positive as I could have been but I was pleased with how I came back from that. I had a plan going to the medal race but Tom was always going to sail the way he sailed in that race and although I handled it well it’s a lot easier to slow someone down than it is to beat them by four or five boats.  

“It was frustrating but at the same time it was probably a bit of a kick up the backside because I know now I can’t get away with not taking my Laser sailing so seriously. I didn’t have the best preparation for Sail for Gold and that was my doing but I still feel it was the right thing for me to take a step back from the Laser a bit this year.  

“Towards the end of last year I spoke with my coaches about getting burned out; I was very worried I was focussing all my energy on my Laser sailing and keeping that intensity going for four years is impossible, you have to pick the times to peak within an Olympic cycle. The Melges sailing has been fantastic and I’ve developed as a sailor in so many ways from being involved.  

But London 2012 is the biggest thing and over the next 18 months I’ll be getting my Olympic sailing intensity back up.”  

Since Sail for Gold, Goodison has spent a bit of time familiarising himself with Hayling Island’s Worlds course where the sailors will face tidal conditions not experienced at Weymouth and Portland and what Goodison describes as “a disturbed sea state.” He anticipates an intriguing regatta whereby the person who can find the most consistent rhythm in choppy conditions will be most successful.  

“It almost feels a bit like China,” he says. “You’ve got to get used to there being a knot of tide underneath you at the start and at the marks and that changes things a little bit. The waves in the Solent have also been really chopped up so you constantly have to adjust your technique as you slow down and speed up again as you hit them. It makes for challenging but enjoyable racing.”  

As well as keeping his wits about him with regards the conditions, Goodison will also have one eye on the emerging sailors, particularly from the Southern Hemisphere, who really impressed him at Sail for Gold.  

“A lot of new faces did really well in races at Weymouth and Portland. Many of the foreign teams have obviously been putting a lot of time in on the water and made massive steps in the past 12 months. A lot of the young Australian and New Zealand sailors have been training together a lot and the squad systems seem to be really working for them.  

“Some of the young guys are getting much faster but at the moment they are lacking experience and they are picking up two or three race wins and then having a couple of slip-ups meaning the experience of the guys at the top of the fleet comes through. You do have to worry about how fast they will be with another two years’ experience under their belts.”  

Five days after Hayling, Goodison flies to San Francisco for the Melges 32 Worlds, which he says would be a “massive achievement” to win having campaigned for less than a year. However he admits it is then back to the drawing board as he starts planning his winter training and event schedule with peaking at the 2011 Olympic Test Event next August his mission.  

He adds: “My focus is on Weymouth next year, it has to be. History tells us you’ve got to be winning medals at the Olympic venue to be amongst them when the Games come around.  No-one remembers who won events in 2010 or 2011 but everyone remembers who wins at an Olympic.”  

Racing at the 2010 Laser World Championships is scheduled to conclude on Sunday 5 September.