Interview with Nic Asher 

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Nic Asher and Elliot Willis are vowing to put the frustration of 470 Worlds fourth behind them to make their mark with a medal at Skandia Sail for Gold.

The two-time World champions experienced a mixed bag of results at the Worlds in Holland last month, getting their regatta off to a flier with two victories before struggling in the heavier breezes and seeing several top end finishes hindered by some damaging bigger scores.

Nic explained that an issue with their mainsail had scuppered their chances of making it a World title hat-trick – even though they were sailing well enough to still actually be in medal contention going into the final race.But with a couple weeks to put their newly-tweaked mainsail through the mill in training on the 2012 Olympic waters of Weymouth and Portland - the venue of Sail for Gold – the pair are relishing the chance to not only claim their third consecutive Sail for Gold title but more importantly signal their intent to the rest of the 470 fleet two years out from the London Games.Nic said:
Sail for Gold and the Worlds were our focus events this year but if I had to win a medal at one it would be Sail for Gold. For the past few years it’s been our goal to win every event we sail at Weymouth and Portland, whether a National Ranker or Sail for Gold. It’s such a big thing for your own confidence to establish a history of winning at a venue but it’s also a mental thing with your rivals. If, before a regatta, they’re thinking that we always win in Weymouth that’s a big thing for us.

The issue with the mainsail in Holland really caught us off-guard; normally when it’s breezy we’re happily one of the fastest boats in the fleet. We put ourselves in a nice position doing all the tough stuff in the light winds but when the breeze got up we just didn’t have our normal speed. It was frustrating because we were sailing really well; we started well all week and were getting the jump on most other people at the start but when it was windy they would start overtaking us as we just didn’t have the pace. We tried everything we could with the set-up but it just wasn’t happening.

We haven’t really had any wind this year and we changed the mainsail a little but hadn’t really had the chance to test it in any real breeze. The first 18 knot breezes we’ve had all year were at the Worlds but even so we didn’t expect the sail to perform quite so badly. It’s not a big change we’ve had to make and we’re busy testing it at the moment. I’m totally confident we won’t have the same issue at Sail for Gold.

Nic believes it is important for Skandia Team GBR to make a unified statement to the rest of the world as the 2012 clock continues ticking down, with the team looking to treat Sail for Gold with the same focus and importance as if it were an Olympic Test Event on foreign soil.He added: We all decided this was what we wanted to do for Sail for Gold, even those sailors who actually live locally to the venue.  It makes such a big difference when you’re part of that team environment and you literally don’t have to worry about anything but your sailing.

It’s also great to have the experienced guys like Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy around as you really do learn so much from them and we aren’t all together that often. I think a lot of the sailors also feel it helps give them the mental edge. When the whole of Skandia Team GBR is together as a team it has an impact on the foreign teams and you do go out on the water with extra confidence when you’ve got the Skandia Team GBR logo all over your boat and knowing the rest of the team is with you.