The 18-year-old 470 duo, who were invited to join the RYA Olympic Development Squad (ODS) shortly before September’s Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, admitted they were “really excited” after learning they would be entitled to free Marlow rope for the next year thanks to the award.
2007 is certainly a year the Sophies won’t forget in a hurry.
It started in Argentina in January when the former 420 rivals joined forces at the 29er World Championships and walked away with the Ladies and Under 19s titles.
The girls then justified the selectors’ decision to send them to July’s Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships by bringing home a hard-fought 29er silver medal from Canada.
Their eye-catching performances on the international Youth stage convinced RYA Olympic Development Squad manager Barrie Edgington to include the girls in this autumn’s ODS intake and they enjoyed their first 470 outing at Sail for Gold, where they finished 10th in a world class field.
And now, having both started the same three-year Sports and Exercise Science degree course at Exeter University, the new students can undertake the next 12 months of Olympic campaigning without having to worry about financing their rope.
Lymington-based helm Weguelin said: “The Marlow Ropes Award will help us a lot. It means we don’t have to worry about things breaking and it gives us the flexibility to try, move and change things around without worrying about the cost of having to replace the rope if our experiments don’t come off!
“Sophie and I paired up because we have the same goals and are committed to putting the same effort into achieving those goals.
“Even though we were sailing the high-performance 29er dinghy immediately before we moved into the 470, we knew that because the 470 is currently the only double-handed Olympic Classes boat for women if we wanted to achieve our ambition of winning an Olympic gold medal together then the 470 was the boat we wanted to progress into sailing.”
Ainsworth, from Ashford, Kent, added: “Getting to grips with the boat has been our biggest challenge so far and will continue to be our main goal throughout 2008. The 470 is a lot more technical than anything either of us had sailed before and we have also been putting in a lot of time at the gym because it’s also very physical.
“But things are going as well as we could have hoped and we are starting to understand the boat better. Everyone in the 470 squad has also made us feel really welcome and helped us a lot so we have really enjoyed the experience so far.”
Edgington said: “The Sophies really excelled in the 29er as Youths highlighting their potential as a double-handed team. They have taken the transition into the Olympic Class 470 in their stride and the Marlow Award will be a big help in their first full season getting to know the boat.”
As well as supporting up-and-coming sailors, Marlow Ropes are also the official supplier and exclusive team ropes partner to Skandia Team GBR thanks to its industry-renowned reputation for producing products tried, tested and trusted in the world’s harshest environments.
photos Janos Schmidt