Interview with Ed Wright 

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Ed Wright has been Skandia Team GBR’s top performer in the Finn for the past two seasons, winning the first ever ISAF Sailing World Cup title in the class last year and recently adding European silver to his medal tally for this term. Now the 2006 European Champion and Worlds bronze medallist is focussed on the one goal he has still to achieve; Olympic Game selection for London 2012.

“The Finn’s a very tough class. There’s so much strength in depth with the young guys like Giles Scott, Andrew Mills and Mark Andrews coming through and of course we’re expecting Ben Ainslie to return in the build-up to 2012. The squad coaching is purposely diluted so it’s personal for each sailor’s training needs but we’re working hard together as a group to push each other on. Although I am, with Ben, one of the most experienced sailors in the squad all the guys always try to help each other in many different ways while maintaining their own personal edge.

“We’ve always had a very strong Finn squad. When I moved into the class from the Laser in 2005, Andrew Simpson was still sailing the boat and Ben had just come back from Athens 2004 with gold so that was great early experience for me. Matt Howard, who’s now the Finn Performance Squad coach, was still sailing and Chris Brittle was pushing hard so there was a huge amount of talent to learn from.

“Focus, motivation, direction and balance are the four most important factors in sustaining a successful Olympic Classes campaign. Balance is very important and as I’ve got older I use my training time a lot more efficiently and don’t waste so much time and I think that’s been reflected in the way my sailing has developed.

“On paper 2006 looks like my best year but last year was the most pleasing as I really improved my sailing style and the way I approached races. I won the World Cup but I also blew the chance of winning Gold Cup gold and that’s been my worst moment as a Finn sailor. There were many things I learned from last year and I’d like to think we’ve seen some of the outcomes of those lessons this season. I’m still waiting for my best career moment, that’s why I’m still here trying to improve.

“I’ve been pretty happy and confident with the way I’ve been sailing this season and I hope I can keep it going for the Worlds in San Francisco at the end of August. Before that the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta is going to be really interesting this year because all the British sailors will want to set the standard on home waters ahead of London 2012. We all train a lot at Weymouth and Portland and know the area so well but having that added pressure of wanting to do well to make a statement should have a good effect. Nick Dempsey winning the RS:X Worlds in what is basically his back garden last year sent a really strong message to everyone and the British sailors in all the classes will be looking to follow that through at Sail for Gold. On lifetime achievement a win at Sail for Gold 2010 will not be noted but it’s a good step towards 2012.

“I get asked questions about Ben Ainslie a lot but I can’t think about what Ben might do in terms of 2012 selection I can only focus on making sure I’m sailing at the top of my game when selection comes about. If I can beat Ben and get to the Olympics it will be a great achievement because he’s a fantastic sailor. I’m doing everything I can think of to prepare myself. I’ve not beaten him in a significant regatta and I can’t wait to race against him. He’s a great competitor and I love racing against him. In my eyes a lot of the Finn fleet don’t race to their potential when he’s around; maybe it’s nerves or they become too extreme but I hope we can challenge him when he returns. I hope it’s only a matter of time.

“In terms of the other classes you’ve only got to look at the quality of the 49er fleet to think the selectors won’t be able to believe their luck! Paul Goodison was a big rival of mine in the Laser but he’s now dominating the class, however you’ve got Nick Thompson coming through to challenge him. The Radial’s wide open and definitely one to watch while the Women’s Match Racing provides an interesting and different element altogether. I also love the Star, it’s a great boat and Iain Percy seems to be clearing up at the moment. He shows depths to his talent every year.

“2012 has the potential to be one of the great Olympic regattas and I hope the race officers continue in the same vein they handled medal race day at Skandia Sail for Gold last year, when despite huge media pressure with the BBC broadcasting live they made really good decisions not to try to run races when there wasn’t enough wind. We spend our whole lives, and put all our energy into, working towards excellence and to introduce so much random chance by running races when there is no wind makes it Mickey Mouse competition. I understand the desire to raise the sport’s profile but the competition shouldn’t be compromised for media obligations. After all, watching boats drift along in no wind doesn’t sell sailing! They were brave but correct decisions made at Sail for Gold last year and I hope that continues into 2012.”