Remembering Sydney: Percy the class of the field as he sails to Finn gold

Remembering Sydney: Percy the class of the field as he sails to Finn gold

30 September 2016 / 07:00

It’s 16 years since the Sydney Olympic Games, when Team GB returned from Australia with 11 golds, 10 silvers and seven bronze medals, which back then was our most successful Games since 1920.

It was the first Games that Team GB athletes had benefitted from National Lottery funding, following its introduction in 1997.


Iain Percy is a four-time Olympian and three-time Olympic medallist, and it was 16 years ago today that he achieved the first of those three podium finishes.

Aged 24 at the time, Percy was racing in the Finn class and dominated the competition to win by 11 points.

Percy won three of the 11 races and did not finish outside the top nine in each of the first nine races, giving himself a commanding lead heading into the final two races.

His nearest competitor was Italy’s Luca Devoti but Percy was the standout sailor of the 25-strong field.

The medal ceremony took place in front of the iconic Sydney Opera House, and Percy certainly enjoyed himself.

“The 2000 summer Olympics in Sydney was such a great event; the people were so behind it and so friendly,” he said

“They partied endlessly but I know us Brits can party better than the Aussies.

“That buzz from the fans is what makes a Games special and for me it was certainly in evidence in Sydney.

“For me, the whole regatta went pretty well, right from the beginning. That Olympics just fell together, really for me.”


Percy would go on to win Star class gold at Beijing 2008 and silver at London 2012, sailing with his great friend Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson.

But tragedy would strike in 2013 as Simpson died in a training accident as the pair prepared for their biggest ever test – The Americas Cup.

Percy went on to skipper the Swedish Artemis Racing team, but will never forget the contribution his colleague, and friend, Simpson made to his sailing career.

“He was also an incredible sportsman,” he added. “But as our mate he was much more than that. He was always on at me and Ben [Ainslie] and giving us counsel. We miss that a lot."

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