Argyll and Bute Olympic sailors announce retirement

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Two sailing stars with Helensburgh roots have called time on their Olympic careers.

London 2012 silver medallist Luke Patience and two-time Olympian Charlotte Dobson – both from Rhu – are among a number of British sailors making the decision.

British Sailing Team boss Mark Robinson heaped praise on the sailing stars after they announced their retirement from Olympic campaigning.

It follows a stellar performance from Team GB’s sailors at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, at which the team secured the top spot on the sailing medal table for the fifth time in six Olympic Games with three golds, a silver and a bronze.

‘These individuals have made such a huge impact on our sport, their achievements speak for themselves, and they’ve inspired countless youngsters to follow in their footsteps,’ said Robinson, the RYA’s Olympic performance manager.

‘I feel very proud to have led a team full of such great athletes, and those retiring will be sorely missed.

‘However as a team we are well-prepared. Lots of our Tokyo team are going again, plus there are a whole host of talented sailors who’ve been waiting patiently in the wings to get their time to shine.’

Luke Patience was just 25 when he won a silver medal alongside Stuart Bithell in the men’s 470 class at London 2012.

After winning a spot with Team GB at Rio 2016, his campaign was turned upside down when crew Elliot Willis was diagnosed with cancer, and they were deselected.

Chris ‘Twiggy’ Grube had been part of the British Sailing Team for almost a decade when he got the last-minute call-up to join Patience, with whom he had raced alongside in the mid 2000s.

The pair went on to finish an incredible fifth, and took that partnership into the Tokyo cycle – and all the way to Tokyo 2020 itself.

They enjoyed a strong start to the Olympic regatta, and despite slipping down the leader board slightly in the lighter winds through the week, only the Aussies bettered them for the lowest discard.

A consistent series had them into the medal race as one of only five boats who could take home an Olympic medal.

With Sophie Ainsworth, Charlotte Dobson won her spot in Team GB for Rio 2016 in the 49erFX skiff.

She then joined forces with Saskia Tidey and the duo quickly established themselves as a powerhouse of the 49erFX fleet, backed up by string of podium results with silvers at the Olympic test event and the 2020 world championships.

The pair led the Tokyo 2020 regatta in the windy early stages, eventually finishing sixth.

Charlotte, who married Dylan Fletcher a few weeks after returning from Tokyo, is now looking to work in banking.

Luke said: ‘It’s the end of a long, wonderful 17-year journey. After many long weeks thinking about it and talking to many different people I feel like I’ve made peace with that decision and that it’s the right one for me now.

‘Success is a wee drug and so to walk away from a life-long journey feels a bit weird. It won’t stop overnight and my heart still longs to continue, but my head is winning the battle.’

‘There must be something in the water on the west coast of Scotland because we’ve produced some phenomenally good sailors today and in years gone by.’

Looking ahead, he added: ‘I’m giving my mind and body a bit of time to wind down. I’d love to lead a team in the Ocean Race when the time’s right; I’d like to start a whisky brand and do bits like that.

‘I’m looking forward to spending a bit more time with family and enjoying the things in life that I’ve had to put on the side lines for a very long time.

‘I’m a sailor in my heart and I doubt I’ll ever be that far from the British sailing team in some shape or form.’

‘It’s been an amazing period of time, and now I’m going on to work out what the next thing is,’ explained Charlotte.

She added: ‘It was a pretty easy decision to be honest. I genuinely felt in the couple of years before Tokyo that Saskia and I had given ourselves the best chance of winning a medal in Tokyo.

‘We’d worked with some incredible coaches and support staff, and had some amazing sailors in our training groups. We gave it a really good crack but it wasn’t enough at the end.

‘It’s a huge honour to wear the Team GB top – it’s something I’ve thought about since I was tiny. The first time I got to pull it on in Rio was quite a shock. I wasn’t expecting it to hit home quite so much with Tokyo, but it totally did.

‘Sailing has brought me all the way from the west coast of Scotland to Portland island and I love it. I won’t be completely disappearing.

‘It’s the most incredible sport, and so wide-ranging. You can sail fast boats, slow boats, complicated boats, simple boats, with people, on your own. Anything is possible when you set a goal, put your mind to it and crack on.’


Luke Patience, right, with Chris Grube. Photo: Lloyd Images. no_a51Sailors01_LloydImages_LukePatience

Charlotte Dobson flies the flag. Photo: Nick Dempsey/RYA. no_a51Sailors02_Nick Dempsey_RYA _CharlotteDobson