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British J80 sailors take on the world

by Myrrh Walker, RYA 3 Jul 2006 12:26 BST 8-14 July 2006

Last July, Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme sailor Ruairidh Scott sailed his J80 Team to one of the most convincing victories yet seen in a J80 World Championship, taking the world title with a day to spare. This year, Scott will attempt to duplicate last summer's success and will defend his title at the J80 World Championship in Corpus Christi, Texas from 8-14 July.

Scott, originally from Tarbert but now living in Hamble, will return to the world stage with a member of his winning team, his trusted tactician Ben Field, of Southampton also a member of the keelboat programme, with whom he has a strong relationship.

"Ben and I have sailed together for many years now and I have a lot of trust in his decisions, which allows me to get on with driving the boat. The new team has sprung up from our solid partnership" Scott explained.

Wanting to reproduce the regatta-winning magic shown in Falmouth last year, Scott's focus has been on finding the right crew to cope with the expected breezy conditions in Texas. America's Cup sailor Nik Pearson was the first recruit. Cornwall's Pearson is taking time out from his role as pitman on Victory Challenge to appear on the front end of the J80.

"Gaining Nik was a massive boost because he has been there and done that, and brings another dimension to the team" explained Ben Field. "Searching for a trimmer was our next job and we didn't have to look far!"

Field's brother Bevis also of Southampton, will fill that spot bringing in another tactical edge and a wealth of international experience mostly as a former training partner to Athens Olympic sailing silver medallists Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield.

The final slot on the boat will be taken by the only female on board, Rachel Williamson of Reading. As an experienced Melges 24 and Merlin Rocket dinghy sailor Ben believes she is "the perfect person to round off the team."

Leaving nothing to chance, the team will fly to the States over a week early to sneak in some additional training.

"With a new boat waiting for us out in Texas we felt it would be important to get set up so we could get the boat fully tuned and get to grips with the weather conditions" says Scott.

Although the J80 Worlds seem to favour home competitors with the home nation always winning the silverware, the British team remain unfazed.

"Winning the Worlds last year was fantastic and with the new team we believe we can do it again this year in Texas;" Scott explains.

With none of the top European & American teams having come face to face since the light wind worlds of Falmouth, Corpus Christi looks set to be a smashing event and a tough call on whether the home water jinx can finally be broken.

Ben Field and Ruairidh Scott are both members of the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme, an initiative set up to help talented young sailors break into the world of keelboat racing. The programme provides racing opportunities, grants and top-level coaching to young sailors in the hopes that they will become the next generation of professional keelboat sailors.

For more information on the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme visit www.rya.org.uk/racing/keelboats

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