For 2019 the Scottish Downhill Association will roll out an Elite Privateer support programme with backing from Greenpower.
Pete had a chat with Scottish Downhill Association’s secretary Dave Munro about the support that Greenpower‘s elite privateer programme will bring to those riders selected for the current season.
Who is Dave Munro?
I am a parent of a rider that started racing with the SDA back in 2003; he first marshalled at SDA and NPS/BDS events before joining the SDA Committee some 6 years ago. I am their Secretary and his dulcet but enthusiastic tones can be heard commentating at SDA events, but 2019 will be the last year that Dave will be actively involved with the SDA.
Who are GreenPower?
GreenPower, formed in 2000, is one of the leading independent renewable energy developers in the UK. The company develops, builds, owns and operates wind farms, hydro stations and solar parks.
For the last 5 years GreenPower have been the major sponsor for the Scottish Downhill Association (SDA) and have already invested considerable funding to improve the Association and to create an ‘Academy’ for many SDA regulars.
How did the GreenPower Elite support idea come about?
Actually in the car park at Glencoe following our AGM last year, I was talking to Rob (Forrest) and Julie (Kirk), owners of GreenPower about a little venture I was hoping to consider for 2019.
I’ve been involved with the SDA for nearly 15 years now and always have admired the dedication and determination that privateer Elite riders face to compete on the World circuit; usually without the financial and logistical support of a trade team environment. Unfortunately my personal aspirations didn’t materialise but Rob and Julie were committed to further this idea.
How many riders are you looking to support?
There will be support for 2 riders in 2019; George Gannicott and Mikayla Parton.
What criteria do riders need to meet for this support?
There isn’t a set criteria; this may well be a ‘one-off’ exercise and of course will depend on the availability of funding. For this initial year consideration was given to experience, potential and of course making any support a meaningful contribution to maximise the benefits.
The two riders that are being supported were not aware of any of the plans behind this venture until they were approached; naturally being SDA regulars for many years I was aware of their history, development and potential.
How will this support help privateers?
Funding will be made available to offset the cost of travel, accommodation and race entry fees. Naturally all riders will be required to provide detailed financial projections and this will be monitored throughout the year. The funding is limited and riders will be required to contribute to these costs as well; so I doubt you will see George or Mikayla in the first class lounge at airports.
Essentially this extra support will allow the riders to concentrate on the preparation and development of their racing year; whether this is more time in the gym, less pressure on travelling arrangements, or just less general anxiety and stress.
Both riders have other jobs to help fund their racing but this additional support may allow for greater concentration on the actual racing side of things and recovery after racing.
How does this fit in to the other support structures the SDA have in place?
Totally separate and will have no bearing on the current funding given to the SDA; I had to insist this as a pre-requisite. I’ve handed over the Secretary duties of the SDA in 2019 to others and so I really just wanted to be able to arrange some extra support to the SDA Elites who haven’t been picked up by a trade team.
GreenPower have been instrumental of the development of the SDA over the last 5 years and I’m confident in saying that without their support, Scottish Downhill Racing would not be in the position it is today.
The Academy is now in its 5th year and so that relates to 60 riders who have received professional coaching free of charge to develop their confidence and technical ability. The improvements in the results of those who have attended this coaching speak volumes for the benefits; we now have a female World Champion in our ranks.
Are there plans to expand this idea further in the future?
I’d be delighted if this could be the start of something special; but it will solely depend on funding. Everyone who competes at any level will see the cost of racing going up every year and every penny harder to come by.
This sport is unique, an amazing spectacle to be part of and to witness at every level; unfortunately as a minority sport, funding from official sources is directed elsewhere. That’s a great loss to many who haven’t been to a Fort William World Cup and the SDA will be eternally grateful to Rob and Julie for their unique contribution to Downhill Racing North of the Border.