Olympic champion Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) will compete in Largs.

Largs, Scotland (Thursday, July 01), America’s reigning Laser Radial Olympic gold medallist Anna Tunnicliffe will give British-based family members and friends their first chance to cheer her on, and to celebrate the talents which saw her win the Olympic title in Qingdao nearly two years ago when she challenges to win the Laser Radial World Championships in Largs, Scotland starting next week.

Although in 2008 she won the America’s first Women’s Olympic sailing medal for the more than 20 years, Tunnicliffe, 27, was born in Doncaster, Yorkshire into a sailing family. After early experiences on her parents’ yacht she started sailing an Optimist dinghy near Blyth in Northumberland.

But it was only really when the family emigrated to Perrysburg in North West Ohio and she started sailing on Lake Erie that the competitive sailing bug really bit.

She is an all round athlete who set her goal of winning an Olympic medal when she was young. After a prolific record of successes in different sailing classes, especially at college age, she entered the US trials for the 2004 Olympics in the Europe singlehander, then from a tightly fought battle in 2007 she won the right to race for the USA in the Olympic Laser Radial class in China in 2008.

In her post Olympics year, 2009, she won the ISAF Sailing World Cup title in the Laser Radial but she has now chosen move from the solo Laser to campaign as helm of a crew of three in the new Women’s Match Racing discipline.

But she heads to Largs to rekindle her obvious affection for the single-handed dinghy and to see if time away from the boat, and a relatively relaxed approach among her Laser peers and friends might contribute to her bettering her Laser Radial World Championships career bests: third places in 2009 in Karatsu, Japan and 2005 in Fortaleza, Brazil.

“I have not done a lot of sailing in the Laser Radial at all this season. I did a regatta in February in Fort Lauderdale at the North American Championships and then did a little bit of training when I was at home, but certainly not a significant amount at all.” Says Tunnicliffe, “I’d like to do well but I have not been training as hard as everyone else has. So I don’t really have any particular expectations. I’d like to do well and have fun and see how it ends up.”

“I qualified for these Worlds at the North American Championships and so I figured it is a good way to be back in the boat and to see my friends.. I have never won the Worlds, I have finished third twice, so who knows?”

Although she has visited Scotland many years ago, this will be her first competitive outing sailing on Scottish waters:
“I have never been there, but I have heard a lot of stories about Largs, that it can be cold and rainy or it can be really beautiful. So, expect anything! We did Sail for Gold the Weymouth regatta last year and before that the only sailing I’ve done in the UK was the sailing I did as a kid.”

Family and friends from the north of England are expected to visit Largs during the championships to see her race, as well as her parents who will fly back from the USA:
“I sailed on the east coast (of England) when I was a kid in Optimists and a little at Rutland Water. I never ever competed in Scotland. My parents are coming across from the US and my aunt and uncle will come up from England to say hello, so I am looking forwards to that. All of my uncles sail, the one who is coming up sails in Scotland all the time. I think if I was competing in the class all the time then I might feel some pressure going into this event, but I don’t feel any pressure going into the event at all, and it will be nice to have them all along.”

She is due to take to the waters of the Clyde for the first time Monday, meeting up with her Laser Radial compatriots and friends for some intense training before racing starts Thursday:
“I am friends with all of the Skandia Team GBR squad and am really looking forwards to seeing them in Largs. At the World Cup match racing events we have done this season we don’t really get to see them at all and it is a different kind of atmosphere.”

“I can remember that sailing in the UK when I was a kid was cold. I moved at 12 to Ohio and sailed all the time. I was not particularly fond of sailing when I sailed in England. It was not really until I moved to America that I really learned to love the sport. If I had stayed in the UK then there is every chance I would not have stayed with it and found a different sport.”

Her switch from the Laser Radial to pursue a match racing gold in 2012 in Weymouth was about taking an opportunity:
“I sailed full time last year and won the World Cup last year and then after that made the switch to match racing. It is new and I had the opportunity to sail with two great crew. It is fun and it’s different and I love the Games.

She has no particular preferred wind conditions especially that she will be looking for over the world championships in Largs:
“I think my favourite conditions tend to be the 10-12 knots range, but I could take wind or light airs, I really enjoy sailing in all conditions. The US squad will be training over the first few days when I get there and I’ll join up with them. I am super excited and really looking forwards to it, to being back in the boat, to be competing and to see my friends. I guess that the match racing events are such a different atmosphere, and so I am looking forwards to being there very much.”

  • RYA
  • UK Sport Lottery funded
  • Event Scotland
  • North Ayrshire Council
  • Scottish Enterprise
  • Hayling Island SC
  • Scottish Sailing Institute
  • Largs Sailing Club
  • Havent Council
  • Sport Scotland
  • Scotland Sailing Centre Cumbrae
  • Largs Yacht Haven