London 2012: Poole stars taking their cue from Annie Lush
The three team-mates in the boat together “THREE brunettes in a boat does not quite have the same ring but, in three weeks, they might just be as famous as the three blondes who won gold at the Beijing Olympics.
It would be a remarkable feat if Annie Lush, one of Britain’s greatest sailors, and the Macgregor sisters, Lucy and Kate, won at Weymouth in the women’s match racing for the trio all hail from the same town, Poole, just along the coast.
For Lush, 30, sailing in the Games is an achievement given the shattering disappointment of losing out by one point in the last race of the final trials for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Sailing with Shirley Robertson OBE, who had made history as the first British woman to win gold at consecutive Olympics, Lush seemed set to head for China in 2008 in the Yngling class.
But British sailing, like rowing and cycling, operates a no-sentiment, medal-demanding environment.
Finishing third in the World Championships 12 months ahead of the Olympics as two of Robertson’s crew from Athens won brought brutal rejection.
There was definitely doubt and I was not sure if I could go through that loss all over agai Lush was devastated and admits that there was a spell when she considered whether using her Cambridge degree in geography might be the way forward.
It took a while to get over that, says Lush, who won a Blue in rowing and rugby before opting for sailing as an Olympic pursuit.
There was definitely doubt and I was not sure if I could go through that loss all over again, the risk you won t be selected and all the sacrifices.
She made the painful journey to Qingdao as a spectator and saw the decision vindicated as Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson took the gold.
Yngling was dropped from the Olympics and replaced by another technical three-person boat, the Elliot 6, and it is match racing in which Lush is regarded as the world’s best.
That and the fact that it was the London Olympics with sailing based at Weymouth on waters she grew up on convinced Lush to drive herself on.
For me, it has been 10 years to get to these Games, she said.
I trialled for Athens but was very new to it.
In Beijing, I really thought it was going to be my Games but finally it has come and I want to make the most of it.
This has been a massive part of my life and there is a massive expectation on my part.
We are ranked No2 and have been No1.
It is very close at the top, it will be mentally a really tough regatta and it depends who deals with it better.
We have every chance to be No1.
There is an expectation, not a team pressure but a team pride.
When we are on the water there is the three of us and I don t think whatever expectation anyone else has it can ever match my own.
Six inches taller than Lucy, 25, and Kate 21, Lush loves the 20-minute match-racing battles of wits, experience, craft and the ability to react instantly to a change of wind or wave.
As it is so fast and intense, we have to swap around in the boat, she said.
But around the course I make tactical decisions, sit in the middle and pull the ropes with the most weight on them.
Kate is the strategist at the front, our breeze spotter.
Lucy is steering and trying to go as fast as possible.
Victory would be the third successive Games in which three-women teams have won gold for Britain.
They want to call us the three brunettes in the boat but I don t think it really works, said Lush.
Instead, she will settle for being called winner .
It will be really tough but we have every chance to be No1