"The English are ten years ahead of us"
Oliver Schwall (right) and Arne Dost manage the business of the Sailing Team Germany (STG). Schwall was world champion in the tornado, Dost sailed in the Admiral’s Cup
The gap to the best sailors in the world is still great. But two years before the games in Rio, Oliver Schwall and Arne Dost from Sailing Team Germany see themselves on the right track.
Oliver Schwall and Arne Dost are the bosses of the Sailing Team Germany. Together with the DSV, you want to lead Germany’s sailors back to the top of the world. In the interview they explain how they proceed and why the Germans win three medals in Rio.
The world: Mr. Schwall, what do you expect from the Olympic competitions in Rio, which start in a good two years?
Oliver Schwall: I am optimistic. We came home from Weymouth with two medals …
The world: … from the Paralympics.
Surge: Right, but we are proud of these medals too. We expect three medals from Rio. And I think we can do it.
The world: You said that after the founding of the Sailing Team Germany, but with a view to London 2012. But nothing came of it.
Arne Dost: We never aimed our goals in London. Building up coaches and teams takes time. It would have been presumptuous if we had said that after we started in 2010 we would be able to build medalists within two years. We never said otherwise to our sponsors either.
The world: Now suddenly there has been a dent with Moana one of your most promising candidates for 2016 announced the end of her career, why?
Surge: That was a personal decision by Moana, especially since now, after starting her Olympic Games in 2012 …
The world: … in which she was fifth …
Surge: … has enough experience to surf very successfully. She asked herself questions about professional prospects and her own motivation and then made a decision. She didn’t want to sacrifice another two years for sport. We think that’s a shame. But: she slammed the door, but then half opened it again. We still hope that she will change her mind, but for now we have to accept her decision.
The world: Isn’t it annoying when the Sailing Team Germany invests money in promoting an athlete and then, halfway through, he ends his career?
Dost: We can’t stop that. She will compete again at the World Cup in Santander so that we don’t lose our nation’s place. In doing so, she is keeping the door open for herself for a comeback.
The world: Shouldn’t you consider other avenues with a view to promoting athletes? For example, when the athletes, if they are financially supported, commit themselves for a certain period of time?
Dost: We invest a lot of money in structural support, in the trainers, in the programs, technologies and mental training. We are two-pronged. The athletes receive so much money that they can afford to do their sport. But an athlete who gave everything and suddenly struggles with motivation is difficult to keep.
The world: Those who accept services should be ready to do something on their part.
Surge: That is a correct thought. We make our promises for a longer period of time. That is why we think about whether we need to strengthen mutual commitment. At Moana Delle, the money was well spent. She was a role model for young sailors and she was a good ambassador for what we are up to. We don’t regret promoting them.
The world: Society’s expectations are likely to be different. After so many unsuccessful years, only one Olympic victory will be honored.
Surge: Basically: yes. But that’s also what the athletes are about, they want to win medals. Financial incentives are irrelevant for our sailors. You want gold, no question about it.
The world: When you founded the Sailing Team Germany, you said that you would need around 25 million euros to create a successful campaign as far as Rio. How much money have you collected to date??
Dost: We don’t have quite a third of this sum together. Together with the German Sailing Association, the DSV, we have created the structures for a team of trainers that enable a uniform approach. There are now trainers for every boat class, but that wasn’t the case until 2008. We now have a solid structure. The coaches can exchange ideas and the learning effect for the athletes is higher. But without individual support and without the help of the clubs, no athlete can make it to the top.
The world: Your sponsors are Audi, SAP and Marinepool?
Dost: Right, and we also have the support of Liros, the manufacturer of pods.
The world: The sponsors put pressure on?
Surge: Our partners have different goals. It is clear that sporting success sells well, and so far our partners have been very satisfied. You can see that we are on the road to success. The exclusive focus on just one target competition doesn’t do it justice. The formula that they will only continue if we win medals in Rio does not exist. It would be too easy too.
The world: When concentrating on the sport, do you still have the opportunity to take care of the positioning of the sailing sport? You also mentioned this when you set up the team?
Surge: Sailing has many facets: It is a clean, strategic and technologically extremely demanding sport. Examples of this are our wind tunnel tests at Audi, the development of high-performance clothing, the rope innovations and the SAP software solutions are relevant and help us to develop competitive advantages and make the sport more understandable. We are very committed to shaping these topics.
The world: The Kieler Woche will take place from June 21st, and there will be new opportunities for spectators to follow the competitions on the water?
Surge: SAP has risen to the challenge of making sailing an experience through smart cloud and mobile solutions. We’re going to be faster, clearer and more efficient this year. Show lightning tables in real time. The new SAP Live Center will bring the results clear and easy to the viewer. A helium balloon provides impressive aerial photos.
The world: And what happens on the way to Rio?
Dost: We can now simulate the complex ocean currents in Rio. The same applies to the World Cup area in Santander. In the meantime, word of this has got around, other nations are approaching us and want to cooperate with us. For example Japan and Australia. We are now using them to evaluate data, which means that we can access a larger inventory. We’re getting better month by month.
The world: Great Britain is one of the particularly successful nations, what can we learn from the British?
Surge: The British are often portrayed as role models, but this comparison is not quite the same. The public sponsorship of sport with us is not enough to produce success. The English have managed to get public funding for core sports through the state lottery. This brings them to a different level than we do. The English are ten years ahead of us in terms of development.
The world: There is enough money to prepare the sailors in Rio?
Dost: We can only do that to a limited extent. We already had to raise a lot of money to secure a base in the Rio area. But we will take part in the pre-Olympic competitions.
The world: Which German sailor is able to win a medal??
Surge: From the Audi Sailing Team’s point of view, surfer Toni Wilhelm should be mentioned first, who has already been to the Olympics twice and finished fourth in London. He is highly motivated. Philipp Buhl in the laser has a great performance development. Medal aspirants are also the 49er sailors Erik Heil and Thomas Plobel. In the 49er FX we have three to four teams that are among the world’s best. Even the 470s still have a chance to advance to the top of the world. We’re always good in the Paralympic classes.
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