Sophie sails to Palma success as Rio 2016 campaign steps up

Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth with their Palma prize   Picture: Richard Langdon / RYA

Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth with their Palma prize Picture: Richard Langdon / RYA

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Itchenor Sailing Club’s Sophie Ainsworth has won bronze in the Princess Sofia Trophy grade-one sailing event in Palma with skipper Charlotte Dobson,

The achivement puts the pair number two in the world rankingsas they build up towards the Rio 2016 Olympics.

The GBR FX girls teamed up in June 2013 to race the 49erFX (podium squad), the new Olympic women’s double-handed skiff class. They have both previously campaigned in other Olympic classes up to 2012.

Ainsworth said: “We are absolutely delighted with our medal - it is a great confidence boost. We had a disappointing 2013 World Championships and this is proof to ourselves we are back on track and our hard work this winter has paid off - especially as the Brazilian girls who we spent the winter training with in Rio won the event.

“We are pleased but have a long way to go and Rio 2016 is at the forefront of our mind, we need to keep pushing forward in this new class.”

As a long-standing member of the sailing club, Sophie learned to sail at Itchenor in an optimist and was soon on the international circuit.

Her youth sailing was spent helming a 420, and in her last year crewing a 29er, when she was 2007 youth and ladies’ world champion.

Ainsworth won silver at the youth world championships in the 29er before being selected for the 470 Olympic development squad.

“The highlight of my 470 crewing career was winning the European Championships in 2012,” said Ainsworth.

“I was the training partner for London 2012 470W silver medallists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark before I decided to switch to the 49erFX at the end of 2012.”

Dobson was also a junior optimist sailor and moved into the Laser Radial for youth sailing in which she won bronze at the ISAF youth worlds, two silvers at the class Worlds and was youth European champion twice.

Preparations for 2016 Rio Olympics have begun and the team are fighting against the clock to get to grips with this new class.

Ainsworth said: “It will require a lot of time on the water as the boat is very physically demanding and requires you to be powerful as well as agile. Rio is also a very specific venue with a lot of tide.”

The pair visited Rio in December 2013 to train with the Brazilian 49erFX teams, where they won the Intergalatic Championships.

Itchenor SC has a rich heritage andAinsworth and Dobson spoke there in February about their Olympic campaign.