Gosport world champ aims to inspire future stars

Nick Harrison coming in after winning the Laser Masters Worlds
Nick Harrison coming in after winning the Laser Masters Worlds
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Nick Harrison is not resting on his laurels as he seeks to inspire the next generation of sailors to follow in his footsteps.

The Gosport ace, 58, enjoyed a fine 2014 as he was crowned grand master at the Audi Laser Masters’ World Championships in October.

That saw him placed at the head of the fleet at the event in France, which totalled 499 entries from across the globe.

It was just the latest achievement in a litany of honours accrued over a sailing career spanning almost 40 years.

Previous victories include a 1995 laser masters world title, a clutch of European and national championships, also in the laser, and Albacore world and national championships.

Yet The News Sports Awards sportsman of the year nominee is set to put further title aspirations on hold in favour of developing champions of the future.

Harrison said: ‘I focused through all of 2014 on winning the laser worlds and I’m delighted I managed to do it.

‘I haven’t made my mind up if I’ll defend my title because it takes a lot of time to train and prepare properly for these events.

‘As commodore of Stokes Bay Sailing Club I’ve been investing a lot of time and effort in building up the junior element of the club and helping more children to get out on the water.

‘I really want to help improve and expand the opportunities available for juniors at clubs across the country.’

Alongside his remarkable on­-the­water accolades, Harrison coached long-time friends Ian Percy and Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson to gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and silver at London in 2012.

The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation was set up after the talented sailor’s tragic death in May 2013 while training for the America’s Cup.

Harrison has since been keenly involved in the charity’s work as a trustee and ambassador.

The foundation aims to help young people to develop skills which will improve their ability to succeed in life – and access jobs and careers in the maritime world. Harrison played a key part in organising the charity’s fundraising event, Bart’s Bash, last year.

That saw over 30,000 people from 68 countries compete in the world’s largest sailing race.

More than £350,000 was raised for the foundation and planning is now under way for a bigger and better event in 2015.

Harrison added: ‘I haven’t coached since the London Olympics.

‘I’d quite like to return to coaching in the future but it’s all about finding the right time and right opportunity.

‘I’m very pleased and proud of what we achieved with Bart’s Bash and what we’re continuing to achieve with the foundation.

‘Our aims really are to encourage more young people to take up sailing because it’s such a fantastic and rewarding sport – it’s a joy being involved.

‘We want to give as many young people as possible the chance to sail and to progress on the water.

‘At the moment my focus is on moving the aims of the foundation forward both nationally and internationally.’