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If you've got it, flaunt it.

Sailors are no strangers to getting their kit off for the cameras and Iain Percy is no exception.

The Sydney Olympic gold medallist is one of Britain's highest-profile sailors. He says one of his greatest strengths is not taking himself too seriously and he was one five members of Skandia Team GBR who stripped off and covered themselves in gold.

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Pictures: Ranald Mackechnie/Skandia Team GBR

How's that for a well-executed naked effort!

This will be Percy's third Olympics. He likened the choice of venue to holding the Winter Games in the Sahara Desert, but admits "Olympic medals won in Beijing will count in history like any others".

After drawing a blank in the Star four years ago, he teamed up with Andrew Simpson - otherwise known as 'Bart' - to compete in the two-man class. Going on the beer with these two is a dangerous job!

I'm told they haven't been doing the sailing diet either. It would be the equivalent of throwing decks chairs off the Titanic.

The Star is a far cry from the computer-sculpted racing machines of today. It's seen by many as the champagne of Olympic sailing. The fleet attracts sailors who want to match themselves against the best.

It's not so much about physical challenges; it's more about concentration and attention to detail. You can't just "grunt it" round the course.

The boys believe if they go out everyday and do as well as they can it will do enough damage. They also know in terms of gamesmanship that if they "wall out" with opposition crews it will punish you.

Over several races there is always the element that those not at the top on points have a choice on who they allow or help with a win. So they will attempt to befriend everyone, especially in the Star class.

The adage "what goes around comes around" springs to mind.

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Percy has been sailing since he was four and fancies the idea of designing yachts when his sailings days are over. He openly admits now he's older, spending 40 weeks of the year away is a bit dysfunctional.

"I'll have to settle down at some point, because I can't shark forever!" he said.

I'm off to find a pot of gold. Ida Maria anyone?


Juliette Ferrington will be reporting on sailing at the Beijing Games. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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