Britain's former Olympic sailing coach is presented with a / YJA Special Award for services to the sport

Stephen ‘Sparky’ Park has been presented with a Special Award for services to the sport of sailing.

The award was presented by Barry Pickthall, chairman of the Yachting Journalists’ Association and former chairman Bob Fisher at a lunch held at the Royal Southern Yacht Club this week.

Park has been the Royal Yachting Association’s (RYA) Olympic team manager for the last four Olympiads and led Britain’s world-beating sailors to amass an unprecedented 23 Olympic and Paralympic medals during this period.

Olympic sailing medallists Giles Scott, Iain Percy and Paul Goodison all sent video messages from Bermuda where they are training to compete in the America’s Cup starting on May 26, and Helena Lucas, who won gold and bronze medals under Park’s management at successive Paralympic Games, was equally effusive during the lunch.

Paralympian Helena Lucas and coaching colleagues from the Royal Yachting Association gather with members of the Yachting Journalists' Association to wish Stephen Park bon voyage as he sets out on a new career coaching Britain's Olympic cycling team. Credit:

Paralympian Helena Lucas and coaching colleagues from the RYA gather with members of the YJA to wish Stephen Park bon voyage. Credit:

Dave Williamson, chairman of the RYA sent a message of appreciation: ‘Sparky – what a career so far! Scots Youth Squad sailing 420s in the early ’80’s, Welsh Yachting and then the Royal Yachting Association, ending up as Olympic Manager during four Olympiads. There was a potential for 51 medals, so if medals are a measure of success, his Team GBR achieved a 45% rate.

At the Rio Games, Team GB finished top sailing team when every crew qualified for their medal race. Very few sports coaches have achieved this measure of success.

‘Always focused and forthright, it has been a privilege to know Stephen and have him as a prominent member of the RYA team.’

Rod Carr, the former CEO of the RYA, now chairman of UK Sport, added: ‘Determined, resourceful, focussed and unfazed by the vagaries of racing are my abiding memories of ‘Sparky’… A great job, well executed.’

Park has been recruited to lead Britain’s Olympic cycling team where he will introduce some of the coaching methods developed during his time in sailing.