At five out of the last six Olympic Games team GBR has been the top nation in sailing, a result of strong leadership from the Royal Yachting Association and very talented sailors and coaches. But Barry Pickthall, formerly the Yachting Correspondent of The Times observes: “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 is the story of Jim Saltonstall and his contribution to the success of British sailing. It starts in his home county of Yorkshire and the seaside town of Bridlington where he learnt to sail. It goes through his experiences in the Royal Navy, which he joined aged 15, with tours all around the world but, particularly, sailing with the Royal Navy team and becoming the Royal Navy Sailing Coach.
This led to his appointment as the first RYA National Yacht Racing Coach, the development of the GBR Race Training Scheme and, in due course, great success at youth, world and Olympic levels. The 24 Olympic medals won by the 14 sailors who give glowing praise to Jim in the Foreword confirms his contribution to this success.
Jim retired from his Team GBR role in 2000, after the Sydney Olympics, but it is a testimony to him that two of the gold medallists from Tokyo 2020 (which took place in 2021 – in elite sports a lifetime since Jim retired) credit him in their success, saying he was ‘a huge inspiration’ and ‘couldn’t help be motivated’ by him.
The story is told as modestly as a Yorkshireman can, and is interspaced with tales of cars, car journeys and one or two parties!
Jim also takes time out of the story to give his thoughts on all aspects of youth training, competing internationally and coaching. Anyone involved in race training will benefit from the wisdom he provides in these pieces.