ROYAL Lymington Yacht Club sailors Vita Heathcote and Ryan Orr are embarking on a campaign to make the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
The pair, who have only recently teamed up, race in the 470 class and are looking for sponsors to help them on their journey to become Olympic gold medallists.
With her former teammate Milly Boyle, Vita became a 420-world champion earlier this year in Portugal while Ryan has had national, European and world success in recent years in the 470 class. After the 2020 Olympics, the 470 class will be reduced to one mixed fleet instead of a men and women’s category.
Despite their new partnership, 21-year-old Ryan and 18-year-old Vita impressed in their first competition during the summer as they claimed silver at the junior European championships in Spain.
Vita and Ryan, who need to raise £35,000 to keep their Olympic dreams alive, coach part-time to help their cause but work can be a distraction from the intensive training that is required for top-level sailing.
Vita told the A&T: “It’s unfortunate, but our Olympic campaign does hinge on whether we get funding. We are looking into getting a new boat as it’s what everyone has as standard.
“We have an old one at the moment, and we want to get new kit that everyone uses so we know it’s good quality and we can just focus on the racing and not worrying about the equipment or boat.
‘A crucial time’
“It is a crucial time for sponsorship as we are just trying to get on our feet. It is insane how many kits you rip through during a campaign, so seven sets of sails a year, and each is £2,000 – it’s crazy.
“We totalled up a budget for this year coming, and that is on minimum spending and a budget price of everything, and it still costs £35,000. We can’t sustain that at all.”
Ryan explained that sailing is an “equipment-based” sport and there are numerous ways that sponsors can help: “A sum amount of money would be helpful, but it’s the little things like using people’s air miles or using accommodation which can be a huge help. Even if people can’t part with money, there are other ways they can help.”
The team’s schedule ramps up in the coming year as they look to take on the world’s best at world circuit events around Europe, but their first major challenge will come in March when they head to Palma for the 470 World Championships.
Ryan said: “We have a few international events we’re heading to like Italy and Spain in December which will be our first chance to sail in an international fleet. But Palma in March will be the worlds so everyone is going to be there, and it will be the first thing that will put us on the world stage.”