If one man deserves recognition for Britain’s remarkable success within the sailing Olympic arena, it is Jim Saltonstall – the coach who has cajoled, encouraged, and inspired so many youngsters towards world stardom over the past 3 decades
This plain speaking Yorkshireman calls a spade a spade with the same delivery and authority as that other great County ambassador Geoffrey Boycott. He joined the Royal Navy at 15 and ended his time as Navy sailing coach before being head-hunted by the Royal Yachting Association to become National Racing Coach. It was Saltonstall who went out to identify young talent and develop a youth programme that has become the envy of the world and made Britain the top yachting nation at youth and Olympic levels.
Honoured by the International Sailing Federation with a life-time achievement award in 2007, Jim was also awarded an MBE in 1997 and voted Yachtsman of the Year in 1984. Among those to have passed through his hands are 4-time Olympic medallist and America's Cup winner Sir Ben Ainslie, fellow Olympic champions Iain Percy and Nick Rogers, together with a host of other world champions. The roll of honour include Stuart Childerley, Jason Belben, Andy Hemmings, Lawrence Crisp, Andy Beadsworth, Chris Draper, and Sally Cuthbert - the only person to win four Youth World championships in succession.
What does Saltonstall look for in young sailors? “Raw talent certainly but there is much more to it than that. The first thing I teach them is ‘correct time management’. Education comes first; sport second. You can’t just go sailing and ignore everything else. Education is very important in understanding the finer points of fitness, technique and strategies developed on the water. It is no coincidence that most of our world youth champions have degrees.”
Following his retirement from international coaching, Jim now tours clubs and youth groups, imparting his knowledge to young sailing talent at grass roots level.
Sir Ben Ainslie says of Jim Saltonstall:
“I just want to say a huge thank you from me and my generation of sailors like fellow Olympic medalists Iain Percy and Nick Rogers. You were the guy that got us into international sailing, You got us on the road.”
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