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Sailing student races to glory

High hopes: Oli Greber, centre, next to Ben Ainslie, the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, in San Diego

High hopes: Oli Greber, centre, next to Ben Ainslie, the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, in San Diego

A sports science student at the University of Portsmouth is close to finishing a long audition for potentially being chosen as crew on Britain’s next America’s Cup challenge.

Oli Greber, 22, is headsail trimmer on Land Rover BAR Youth Academy’s extreme sailing series’ sixth leg, from Los Cabos, in Mexico’s Baja California, today and tomorrow.

Oli is studying sports science at the University’s Department of Sport and Exercise Science and is one of a select few students to also have been chosen as a University sports scholar.

The 2017 series is the second time he has been selected for the Land Rover BAR Youth Academy, which aims to find and support talented British sailors aged 19-24 to create a pathway to the America’s Cup.

The Academy includes 12 sailors sailing a foiling multihull, the GC32.

Oli started sailing aged six and represented the UK at the 2015 ISAF Sailing World Championships. He took part in the 2015 Red Bull Foiling Generation, fronted by Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher who are looking for the sailing stars of the future across the globe. He also competed for the Land Rover BAR Youth Academy team during the 2016 series.

His interest for sailing began when he went sailing in an Optimist dinghy at the age of six. A few years later he joined his local sailing club, Pevensey Bay Sailing Club, Eastbourne, and trained in a Topper before being accepted to join the RYA Youth Squad. He moved up into the multihulls and advanced through to the National Squad.

Elite sportsman Oli Greber

Elite sportsman Oli Greber

At the age of 17, he won the first of two youth national championships which led to going to the ISAF Youth Worlds twice and winning bronze in 2013 in Cyprus.

Later, he was chosen for a three-month internship with the Land Rover BAR Shore Team, learning boat building and rigging skills.

His passion for elite sport lead him to studying sport and exercise science at Portsmouth, where he is in his third year.

The University of Portsmouth has sports scholars representing a broad spectrum, from shooting to skiing.

The sports scholar programme is open to 20 talented students a year. It includes financial help towards equipment, competition and training; physiotherapy and sports massage; a personal mentor to liaise with academic staff; free access to all sports facilities; specialist strength and conditioning facilities and programmes; free physiotherapy; and free membership of the British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS).

Paul Tilley, Head of Sport and Recreation at the University, said: “We are delighted to see Oli’s continued development with BAR. He is a credit to the University and himself and has an extremely bright future at the very highest level of competitive sailing.”

Previous sports scholars at the University include Lauren Steadman, who won silver at the 2016 Paralympics for triathlon in Rio, and Dan Bentley, who won gold in the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, and bronze in the 2012 Paralympics in London, both for boccia.

Two other current sports scholars, Kanisha Vincent and Jake Caddy, were selected to compete in a major international rugby sevens tournament in Mexico this month.

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