GETTING up in time for lectures may be one of the toughest tasks facing most first-year University students, but Stone sailor Sarah Norbury insists she is up to the challenge of combining her studies with a bid to sail in the 2020 Olympic Games.
The 18-year-old has just started at Portsmouth University – studying French, Chinese and Spanish – but will balance that with travelling to the National Sailing Academy in Weymouth.
After spending the summer sailing abroad, including competing in the 420 class Girls World Championships in Japan, Norbury and teammate Mari Davies now turn their attention to moving into the larger 470 boats that are used at the Olympic Games.
Not only will they be racing in a bigger, faster, more powerful boat for their Olympic cycle, but also Norbury and Davies will start to lock horns with full-time sailors and professionals.
But the starlet is confident that with a fifth-place finish in Japan under their belts, the pair are in good shape to return to those waters in five years time for the Tokyo Games.
“We’ve had an epic few years in the 420 class and it’s really exciting to be moving into the 470 Olympic class,” said Norbury.
“I think from here you just up the game, up the level of quality of the stuff you’re doing, be more professional.
“The level of competition will be much harder. We’re competing against seniors now – all the Olympic guys – which will be really fun and very cool to be in the same race as them.
“Definitely it will be more challenging for us as the boat is brand new, and we’re going to have to learn how to sail it properly.
“The fitness side of things needs work too; we all need to get much fitter and everyone can always get fitter.
“We’re going to have to spend a lot of hours in the gym which will be really hard but worth it in the end if we can win a 470 World Championships and also go to the Olympic Games.”
Norbury was speaking at Land Rover BAR headquarters in Portsmouth, where Sir Ben Ainslie and his all-British team are bidding to bring the America’s Cup back to our waters for the first time since 1851.
As part of the Jaguar Land Rover Academy of Sport programme, some of Britain’s most promising sailors were invited down to enjoy a tour of the impressive new facility, and take on some top tips from the BAR team and fitness experts.
And Norbury admits the opportunity to meet Ainslie and learn from the best in the business, opened her eyes to the hard work required to cut the mustard at the elite level.
“Today’s experience with Jaguar Land Rover was really good. Starting off with the Southampton Boat Show and then especially to be at Jaguar Land Rover headquarters with Ben Ainslie Racing.
“It’s been so fun to meet Ben Ainslie and having all the experts here to give us advice. It’s a really professional set up around here it’s really interesting to look around.
“This has worked out really well timing-wise in terms of my campaign starting; it’s incredibly inspiring. Learning how to organise a campaign you just realise this is what it could look like and you could model it on this.
“Being here today makes me want to be an American cup sailor so that’s definitely going on the agenda! I can’t wait to see if I can join in.”
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