What Type Of Legacy Has The Olympics Left Behind For The Sport Of Sailing?

Posted on January 22, 2014 by Lee under kayaking, RYA, Sailing, Sailing Training Courses Comments Off on What Type Of Legacy Has The Olympics Left Behind For The Sport Of Sailing?

The euphoria surrounding the Olympics in the UK boosted the profiles of many sports, and sailing was no different. Throughout the build-up, and during the Games themselves, the government and sporting figures alike spoke of building a legacy for the future of sport in Britain.

However, some of these legacies are more difficult to see than others – take the recent demolition of the Don Valley stadium in Sheffield as an example of where things have not necessarily gone to plan.

Participation in some sports is also down on what the government had hoped, but many new fans were still attracted to sport, especially sailing.

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Gaining global exposure…

When compared to mainstream sports such as football, rugby, tennis or cricket, it’s also fair to say that sailing receives little exposure in the world of TV broadcasting.

However, the performance of Ben Ainslie at the Olympics and his subsequent performance in the dramatic turnaround in the Americas Cup has raised the profile of sailing in the UK.

Paralympian Helena Lucas boosted the appeal of sailing yet further with her stunning victory – becoming the first ever Brit to claim a Paralympic Gold in sailing in the process.

And stories of success were not just found in the gold medal categories either, as a whole host of Olympians and Paralympians picked up bronze and silver medals throughout the competition.

Inspiring a generation…

The talk surrounding the Olympic Games always centred on the future and the tagline for the Games quickly took on a whole new meaning.

Each medal which was won helped to inspire the thousands of people watching across the country and created widespread euphoria.

So much so that even now, it is almost impossible not to feel a shiver down your spine as you watch members of the Great British team crossing the line, cheered on by hundreds of passionate fans.

Dorset – that staged the sailing events at London 2012 – saw 100,000 people flock to the free sports arena on Weymouth Beach during the games.

Exposing a sport to this level of coverage only helps to improve its profile, and maybe even encourages people to consider sailing lessons themselves.

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Investing in the future…

Since the Olympics came to a conclusion, a £450,000 Sport England grant has helped to improve Weymouth and Portland as a tourism destination and this has helped to generate enthusiasm for sailing, as well as kayaking and climbing.

The coverage that the region saw during the games made it one of the world’s leading sailing centres, while the expansion of the sailing academy made it an attractive place to host elite sailing competitions.

Weymouth has benefitted most from the Games and now has facilities that can enable people to learn how to sail in the very best environments.

Part of the Olympic legacy for Dorset also included a new Royal Yachting Association training centre where yachtmaster courses can take place, as well as a host of high-profile events.

A continuing legacy

Now, as the Winter Games in Sochi comes close to marking the two year anniversary of London 2012, the legacy left behind for sailing is based on very solid foundations.

Promoting the sport in the media should be a priority, while there is always more freedom to make sailing more accessible.

Despite this, the growth of sailing courses across the UK and of various boating websites would suggest that sailing is not struggling to the same extent as other sports.

The emergence of new faces into the sailing scene and the reliability of the old guard mean sailing is well placed, looking ahead to Rio 2016 and beyond.

Back in 2005, when bidding for the Games first took place, Lord Sebastian Coe said: “We know the Games must offer more than just 17 days of world-class sport and celebration. So, in London, every sport will have a legacy.”

At least when it comes to sailing, it seems that he was right.

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