Woodbridge firm hope for Olympic bonanza
A REVAMP of Olympic sailing could lead to a business bonanza for an already ship-shape local company.Woodbridge-based carbonology.com are on the brink of clinching a deal that could boost turnover by more than £3 million a year in the build-up to the 2012 Games in London.
By Mel Henderson
A REVAMP of Olympic sailing could lead to a business bonanza for an already ship-shape local company.
Woodbridge-based carbonology.com are on the brink of clinching a deal that could boost turnover by more than £3 million a year in the build-up to the 2012 Games in London.
It all depends on the outcome of a four-day evaluation event being staged in Hyeres, France, this week when their boat will be put through its paces along with only five others from around the world.
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The firm's managing director, Dave Chisholm, has a background in sailing and was also transport and logistics manager for the Great Britain team at the Sydney Games in 2000.
He is now working closely with Team Ipswich to maximise the town's part in the 2012 event, which will see sailing events staged in Weymouth and Portland. They are being sponsored by both Team Ipswich and the Haven Gateway Partnership.
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Dave, 39, said: “This could be quite big. I have been involved in some very impressive boat builds in my time and we already have some major contracts, but it would be nice to have our name on a boat competing at the Olympics.”
Hadleigh-born, he joined the Royal Navy at the age of 19 and returned to Suffolk seven years ago. His company supplies high-quality carbon fibre material and parts to various sports, including sailing, cycling, fishing and motor sports, as well as a number of different industries.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have entrusted the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) with the task of streamlining sailing events ahead of the London Games.
Dave explained: “The idea is to review the classes and reflect the sport's current status. The fact that sailing is the only sport, apart from equestrianism, where men and women compete on even terms has become a bit of a problem.
“It has become an extremely physical sport compared to, say, 20 years ago. You have to be physically fit and strong, and the male athletes have taken charge.
“There is a review every four years but the one currently taking place has really put the cat amongst the pigeons. The IOC are committed to reducing the events from 11 to 10 - five for men and five for women.
“One class for men is the 49er, which is an 18ft skiff, but there has never been an equivalent for the women, so they wanted to put that right by coming up with a new high-performance, state-of-the-art boat for a crew of two women.
“We have been working on a project and when we heard what the ISAF were proposing we realised our new boat matched the parameters almost exactly.”
Dave and his colleagues just managed to finish the boat in time to launch it at Alton Water last week and they were delighted with the outcome.
He said: “It performed perfectly. It went like the clappers and was doing 12 knots - the wind speed was eight knots - so here's hoping it does as well at the trial in France.
“If we were to win the trial our boat would become THE boat and we would need the capacity to build 300 of them a year over three continents, retailing at £11,000 each.
“This opportunity has come and knocked on our door - we didn't go looking for it - and it's the type of chance we'd love to make the most of.”
A report on this week's evaluation event will be heard at the ISAF mid-year meeting in Paris next month and a final decision will be made at the annual conference in November.