Captivated by the thrill of the race

Stuart Alexander talks to Rodney Pattisson, a sailor with a passion for multi-hulled boats
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It takes a special talent to win an Olympic medal, gold being especially elusive, so to win two golds and then feel disappointed with a silver is truly phenomenal. If you want to see one of these very rare birds, you could take yourself to the quiet haven that is Bembridge on the Isle of Wight this weekend and focus binoculars, cameras or perhaps just your eyes on Rodney Pattisson, a winner of gold in 1968 and 1972, who is still annoyed with himself for having to settle for silver in 1976.

"That was like losing - it was a consolation prize, but that was all," said Pattisson, who looks exactly like a weather-beaten sailor should, right down to the shaggy oiled-wool sweater with holes in the elbows.

So how does an Olympian still bubbling with nervous energy and carrying in his head all the ability to coax the best out of a yacht and sniff his way round a racecourse spend a summer weekend? Sailing and selling a trailer-sailer trimaran which has captivated his imagination, although at times he does allow his mind to drift on to thoughts of the big time again.

The second "national championships" for the Farrier trimarans, 24ft and 27ft, built in San Diego and folding down to 8ft 2in wide when being trailed, will see Pattisson as a competitor with his girlfriend and one other as crew. "Last year I was on the committee boat and wanting to be out there racing," he said.

What makes these boats so attractive? "Well, multi-hulls are just so much faster," Pattisson said. "They make other boats feel old-fashioned, out of date. I discovered them by accident when I sailed a big one called Paragon. Sailing the big multihulls, you are just hyped up and on adrenalin, like motor racing."

So why not do that instead of waxing lyrical about rafting up for barbecues and having wonderful parties? "Well, it would be wonderful to take Enza's Jules Verne round-the-world record of 74 days and build something big and really smash that record," he mused. "But there really hasn't been the sponsorship in Britain. It would take a [Richard] Branson to do that."

He would also have liked to be in the UK Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup team, and was lined up to sail on the Scottish big boat which in the end did not materialise. Instead, he is likely to be sailing on a non-competing Australian 40-footer, offering precious local knowledge of the tides and winds.

Before that he has a national championship to win. "I'm always trying to win and going to be trying this weekend," he says. "I still sail in the winter series in Poole Bay, and I trail the F27 to other regattas. It's really fantastic, you just have to go out and sail it. It's fantastic."

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