Sailing to win: interview with Olympic hopeful Stevie Morrison
PUBLISHED: 01:16 02 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:05 20 February 2013
Yachtsman Stevie Morrison and his sailing partner Ben Rhodes are aiming for Olympic gold in the 49er class of the sailing next year. He was born in Eastbourne and his earliest sailing exploits were in Sussex
Yachtsman Stevie Morrison and his sailing partner Ben Rhodes are aiming for Olympic gold in the 49er class of the sailing next year. He was born in Eastbourne and his earliest sailing exploits were in Sussex. His father Phil is a leading boat designer and racer himself. Here Stevie tells us about his life and his hopes for next year
How long have you been sailing with Ben?
Properly we started sailing together in 2002.
Does sailing run in the family?
My family had always been heavily involved with sailing, my dad was a sailmaker down in Polegate, which is just outside of Eastbourne and then we moved to Exmouth when he had a business opportunity with sailing and sail-making and boat designing, so Ive always been around the marine trade.
Do you and Ben find that you know what the other will do on the boat almost without thinking?
Yeah, too much actually, and its something were working on at the moment. Weve sailed together so much. I couldnt tell you exactly what those nuances are, its just that a lot goes unsaid. It does mean that when it isnt going well, you dont necessarily come to the right answers.
Weve got a new coach at the moment and hes been the first one to really see that. Thats an area were working on and by using the force a bit less we can raise our game to the next level.
How about 2012?
I think to be honest Ben and I have always been far more focused on 2012 than on getting there. I think if we can focus on 2012 and what we need to do, then thats our chance of winning a medal at 2012. If you tell me now that Im going to come fourth in 2012, then send someone else. I dont want to go. That probably sounds very negative when you hear a lot of people talking about the dream of going to the Olympics. If I go to 2012 and end up coming fifth but Ive given it my all and I thought I was in the perfect place then I will have enjoyed the experience.
But I want to go where I start the first day believing that were good enough to win the gold medal. For Ben and I thats what its about. Weve got to be focussed on 2012 and let the selection take care of itself which we think it will.
Do you have any particular sailing memories of the Sussex coast?
I did an event when I was about 18 or 19 I went back and my dad had designed a boat called an RS400 which is quite a well-used boat these days, and there was an event in those.
Dad was sailing with the guy who built the boat, and wed managed to borrow an old boat from somewhere, me and a friend of mine, David Brown, who was from Burnham on the east coast. So we sailed in Pevensey Bay and we had a great time. I dont know where we came I think we came second. I think my dad beat me but well overlook that one!
Its a great bit of coast to sail on theres some tricky launching there off those shingle beaches, but that whole area of Eastbourne and Pevensey Bay is a brilliant place to sail.
Is competing at an Olympics on British waters more significant?
I think it will be an amazing experience. I didnt do a great job last time around in that I shut off that experience and tried to ignore the fact that it was the Olympics and I kind of just tried to make it like a sailing event anywhere.
Other than the fact that I had to wear a tracksuit which I wouldnt normally choose to wear on a given day there wasnt an awful lot that was different about it in my head and I guess really I missed the experience of the Olympics, which is one of my regrets I suppose and was a bit of a shame in hindsight.
Sailing in Weymouth where were used to sailing is a great opportunity in terms of us winning a medal it gives Ben and I a good confidence boost. We have always done well here its where we won our first major Championships, the Europeans, the only time theyve been here in recent years. Weve won a medal at Skandia Sail for Gold every year bar one in the last six years, and a lot of those were gold medals.
Stevie Morrison sails as part of Skandia Team GBR the British sailing team in Olympic and Paralympic classes, the team is sponsored by investment specialist Skandia. For more on Stevie and the team visit www.skandiateamgbr.com