Eighty members of Team Sky switched their world of two wheels for the rough seas of southern Britain this week, spending a day with the British Sailing Team as a team building exercise.
Instead of attending the presentation of the 2015 Tour de France route in Paris, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, Ritchie Porte, new signings for 2015 such as Nicolas Roche and team staff learnt how to sail as teams and competed against each other with support from some of Britain's best Olympic and Paralympic sailors.
"This year we just thought we wanted to do something a bit different. We were looking round at some different ideas and we wanted to preferably do something that was totally different but in a world class, high performance environment," team manager Dave Brailsford explained in a press release.
"I'm good friends with [British Sailing Team Manager] Sparky and was chatting to him about it, and we came up with the idea of coming to Weymouth and Portland and of course it's one of the iconic world class environments and programmes, not just in Britain but in the world now, so to come here and be in a high performance centre, in an academy with GB sailors - it just felt right.”
"And of course sailing is something that none of us have done so we were all pretty excited about what it could offer, and now having done it, I'm very, very happy about what it delivered. It's always interesting for those who have been involved in Olympic sport, or any sport - when you see a sport and you're aware of it, but you've never actually taken part.”
The remains of Hurricane Gonzalo had passed by on Wednesday when Team Sky took to the seas, leaving behind a 12-14 knot north-westerly wind for the ten boats as they sailed around Weymouth Bay on the south coast. The morning session provided time for orientation and safety briefings, for the teams to practice manoeuvres and get settled into roles on board ready for a four-race mini-regatta in the afternoon.
"You learn straight away that sailing a boat's not easy, it's very technical, there's a lot of communication required, a lot of co-ordination required and you've got to be thinking in the same way. There's got to be somebody who's leading the operation, there's also the technical aspect of actually making the boat sail but also the tactical aspect of racing,” Brailsford said.
"We were very keen to race rather than just sail - that was important to us - and then you just get a real awareness when you're trying to win of all the tactical elements, the nuances of the wind direction and everything else that's involved. You realise what a technical sport it is and you have a fantastic appreciation for the quality of the people that perform at the highest level."
A team including riders Nathan Earle and Bernie Eisel, staff members Hussein Fahmy, chef Soren Kristiansen, Xabier Artetxe, David Rozman, Rajen Murugayan and performance coach Tim Kerrison won the afternoon race.
"It was a real pleasure to give Team Sky a little taster into our sport, an d it's always fantastic to spend time with individuals who are at the top of their game," said British Sailing Team Manager Stephen 'Sparky' Park.
"I know that the British Sailing Team guys involved all had great fun and found it hugely inspiring to spend the day with other like-minded elite sportspeople.”
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