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Interview with Stevie Morrison at AAM Cowes Week

by Mark Jardine 13 Aug 2015 16:31 BST 8-15 August 2015
Journey Maker II at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week © Rick Tomlinson

We talked to Stevie Morrison, the current skipper of the Oman Air Extreme 40, Olympic 49er sailor at both Qingdao 2008 & London 2012 and former World Champion in the Fireball & 49er classes, about his sailing at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week.

Mark Jardine: So Stevie, you're over here for Cowes Week, what are you sailing on and how are things going?

Stevie Morrison: I'm here for a couple of days with some people who support me in the 49er, a company called BTG, and they've got a J111 called Journey Maker II. They are very keen sailors from Hamble. We've got some of the guys from the company coming to experience it, and hopefully helping Louise [Dame Louise Makin] and Chris who sail the boat move on to the J111 Worlds here next year. They've got a good programme going forward to that. It's great for me, usually sailing dinghies, I get a chance to experience this side of sailing. It's all far too serious - I love it for what it is - but this [Cowes Week] is the essence of sailing. When you look in London, or anywhere, you find people who see sailing as Cowes Week. To me it's about getting people excited about sailing, and obviously Cowes Week does that. It lets the normal guy, who's maybe trying sailing, come and race against some of the best guys in the world. Terry Hutchinson's here somewhere and other guys like that are kicking around Cowes, and they are some of the very best sailors in the world. For me it's great to see them, and hopefully for other guys it's even better to see them. It is a unique experience and I'm glad to be here.

Mark Jardine: As well as life on the water, how are you enjoying the social side of Cowes Week?

Stevie Morrison: It's fantastic. We've come along to the beer tent after sailing with some of the staff of BTG who have sailed for just two days. I think we were first J111 today and these guys are four out of eight crew on the boat, so they had big roles to play. So they are very excited about the fact we were first in our class. Then I bumped into some of the guys from the British Sailing Team, bumped into you, bumped into Ben Vines. I love it, it's an environment which encapsulates sailing under one roof. There's a lot of people here and it's really nice for me to bump into old friends.

Mark Jardine: So your personal sailing, since your 49er campaign, you've now been doing the Extreme 40s; how have you been enjoying the circuit there?

Stevie Morrison: It's been great to sail the Extreme 40. I said at the beginning of this season I'd never sailed anything bigger than a 49er. At the start of this year, if you got off the boat without bumping it on the dock you were pretty chuffed! We've progressed now; in Hamburg we were the best boat in the last two days. We were the best boat on the first day in Cardiff. So we just need to be the best boat four days out of four. Again, walking down the street here I bumped into Seve Jarvin - he's sailing here - and we had a bit of banter about St. Petersburg in a week's time. It's a nice fleet like that. It's a brilliantly run circuit. Again, they've put sailing in front of the public, which I love. I've been very lucky to compete at the Olympics, and race at the highest level, but I see sailing as an amazing sport that I'd like kids to get involved in, anyone. It's such an accessible sport - for all abilities and genders and ages. Things like Cowes Week and the Extreme 40s, anything that gets sailing in the public eye, is fantastic. Hopefully next week in St. Petersburg we will carry it on.

Mark Jardine: If someone was a dinghy sailor, coming to Cowes Week for the first time, what would your one piece of advice be to them, to have a good fun week?

Stevie Morrison: I think you've got to open your mind. The racing is slightly different here. Sailing is about variables; the skill in sailing well is dealing with those variables and making the best of them, and here's just a different set of variables. So don't look at it like it's not a sausage or a triangle, it's a different course to take on, there's different boats. Afterwards there are plenty of people here who will listen to all your woes over a beer.

Mark Jardine: So celebrate the diversity of the sport - it's very different to dinghy sailing?

Stevie Morrison: I think so. There's the tradition of Cowes, it's maybe not a conventional course, there's maybe more inconsistencies and more problems that you can find, but that just gives a good dinghy sailor hopefully a chance to win. there's actually an awful lot to be learned for your dinghy sailing, from sailing bigger boats. My eyes have been opened; I wish I'd done it a little while ago. I sail a 49er which is as fast as any dinghy, but actually I'd have learned an awful lot from sailing a J111, to help my 49er sailing. So get down here; it's a fantastic atmosphere, but it's really good fun on the water as well.

Mark Jardine: Well Stevie thanks very much for your time, and best of luck in St. Petersburg. Hope it goes well.

Stevie Morrison: Cheers mate.

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