Sailing: Lucy Macgregor selected for Rio test event

Bournemouth Echo: BRAZIL-BOUND: Lucy Macgregor BRAZIL-BOUND: Lucy Macgregor

POOLE-based Olympian Lucy Macgregor and team-mate Andrew Walsh have been named in the British Sailing Team’s 30-strong squad for the Olympic test events in Rio de Janeiro.

British sailors will compete with their international rivals across 10 Olympic classes on the 2016 racecourses in Guanabara Bay from August 2-9 as preparation for the games in Brazil begins in earnest.

Macgregor, lined up to contest the new Nacra 17 multihull class, described the event as “the first big step along the journey” towards fulfilling her medal-winning ambitions.

“We’re really pleased to be selected, it’s a big deal,” the 27-year-old said. “For us, it’s our first taste of the Olympics and how we’ll need to perform and act as a team.”

Macgregor switched to the two-person Nacra 17 after the racing event she contested alongside younger sister Kate and fellow Poole sailor Annie Lush at London 2012 – the women’s Elliot 6m – was removed from the Olympic programme.

“The Nacra couldn’t be more different really,” she added. “It’s a fantastic boat and I’m really enjoying the challenge of getting into something completely different and new.

“It means there is a lot to learn but that’s no bad thing. It’s great to have that new challenge.

“No one has the answers at the moment. We’re just trying to work as hard as possible to figure out how we can make the equipment go quickly in every wind condition.”

Although Macgregor is no longer teamed up with sibling Kate, she is keeping her campaign in the family by partnering Walsh, the long-term boyfriend of the eldest Macgregor sister, Nicky.

Walsh, 32, narrowly missed out on Olympic selection in the Tornado catamaran class for Beijing in 2008 before the multihulls were axed from the programme last time round.

He sailed professionally in 40-foot catamarans on the Extreme Sailing Series before being lured back when the multihulls made their return for 2016 in the form of the new Nacra 17.

“We’re a great combination as a team,” Walsh said. “Lucy comes from slower boat racing but she’s got a whole heap of brilliant skills for racing in really tight situations. “Hopefully, I can bring some experience of the faster asymmetric boats and catamaran specific sailing, and we can gel our different areas of expertise.

“It all seems to be going in the right direction so far, so hopefully we’ll come good in the end.”

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