Thursday, August 2, 2012
Exmouth’s Olympic sailing stars, Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes got their London 2012 campaign underway this week with a little help from a friend.
This afternoon (Thursday) the duo won race seven of the men’s 49er in 29.47, which puts them third overall.
Sir Paul McCartney sent a personal good luck message to the boys after they named their 49er boat Lovely Rita in homage to The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album track.
The musical legend’s message read “Wishing you the very best of luck on the Lovely Rita in the games. Happy sailing to you both. From someone who loves to potter about on his little Sunfish.”
Stevie said: “He’s a genuine legend, so that was really cool, if a touch surreal!
“But none of it means anything unless we can go out there and do the best we can do, and as long as we can come away from this event feeling like we’ve done the best we could have done then we’ll be happy.”
For Morrison and Rhodes, London 2012 is all about laying to rest the disappointment of their ninth place finish at Beijing 2008.
The pair, who grew up sailing cadets against each other 20 years ago, went to China as one of the favourites, having claimed Worlds gold in 2007, but didn’t manage to replicate their pre-games form.
But with a change in approach, and the input of coach Paul Brotherton who helped the British Yngling girls to gold four years ago, they are confident they can make the familiarity of the surroundings of Weymouth and Portland pay dividends.
Ben said: “There is certainly a home advantage, we’ve sailed at Weymouth and Portland our whole careers. It’s one of those things you don’t necessarily consciously take on board but just going on the water in the same place, all the time, it is little subtleties of where the wind would shift and where better pressure on the water would be, it just becomes ingrained in you. The home crowd factor will be pretty impressive.”
Morrison added: “I just know if we go out and perform at our best level for those nine days, and don’t try and do anything clever, then we will be right in the mix.”
The Olympic Sailing Regatta runs from Sunday July 29 – Saturday August 11. The 49er medal race is scheduled for Wednesday August 8 1pm.