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Tokyo 2020: Support has strings attached

Published on February 20th, 2020

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
A story was relayed to me about a US Olympic Sailing Team event in which an audience member asked what they could do to support the program. The response back was for people to care about the program and support the sailors.

When I heard the story, it triggered a frequent lament I have about the US program, which is how it’s hard to care when it’s hard to find what there is to care about. The team’s communication program falls short and the athletes seem unwilling to make an emotional connection.

I consistently find the people campaigning for the Olympics to be quite interesting, and their experiences to be extraordinary, but the resistance to reveal much beyond a social media chirp has impacted people’s ability to care.

This all came to mind when I received an update on the 2020 RYA Dinghy Show, to be held February 29 to March 1 in London, England. The notice was how the British Sailing Team would be there in force, led by the athletes picked to represent Team GB at Tokyo 2020.

Certainly the Brits are having more recent success than the USA at the Olympics, but I contend that becomes irrelevant for such an event if connections had been made at other levels, which is exactly what will be occurring at this show. Here are the details:

Visitors to the show will get the chance to rub shoulders with ten of the sailors who will fly the flag for Great Britain at the upcoming Olympics.

Reigning Olympic champion Hannah Mills and her world championship-winning crew Eilidh McIntyre will be among the sailing stars at the show, as will Nacra 17 world champions John Gimson and Anna Burnet and 49erFX world championship silver medalists Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey.

Current European 49er champs Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell will be there alongside London 2012 silver medallist Luke Patience and his Rio 2016 crew Chris Grube.

And of course the show will be presented by double Olympic gold medallist Sarah Ayton (2004, 2008), London 2012 Olympian Annie Lush and rising Laser star Sam Whaley.

There will be several opportunities during the weekend for visitors to snap selfies with the sailors in the Interactive Zone in the Panorama Hall and Sailors’ Corner. The highlight will be a presentation and Q&A with the Tokyo 2020 sailors on the main stage at 11.45am on both days.

As well as talks and presentations, the sailors will be imparting their expert knowledge on trapezing, knot-tying and splicing, rigging, racing fitness, and even eSailing.

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