By David Owen

skandia team gb sailingNovember 29 - The British sailing team faces a hunt for a new sponsor following the announcement that Skandia is to end its association next March, when the present deal concludes.

The financial services company's parent, Old Mutual, is to rebrand its Skandia businesses in Europe in the coming year and it has been determined that existing sponsorship contracts will not be re-signed while this process is taking place.

With the help of backers such as Skandia, sailing has re-emerged in recent times as one of Britain's most successful Olympic sports.

Michelle Andrews, Skandia's marketing director, described the partnership with British sailing as "hugely successful".

"It has been great to see them achieve so much over the past few years and we hope their success continues long into the future," she said.

Stephen Park, Olympic manager for the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), described the company as a "superb partner...for the past seven years".

Skandia's support had "not only...made a medal-winning performance difference, but has also helped elevate sailing and its personalities in the public consciousness during a unique period for British sport".

The sport secured a haul of seven medals at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Ben Ainslie celebrates winning gold in the London 2012 Finn raceBen Ainslie celebrates winning gold in the London 2012 Finn race

However, its tally of just one Olympic gold – the peerless Ben Ainslie in the Finn class – was its lowest since Atlanta 1996.

All told, British sailors have racked up 21 Olympic medals, almost half of them gold, over the past four Summer Games.

News of Skandia's imminent departure, though, continued a thought-provoking week for the sport, following in the wake of Ainslie's disclosure that his extraordinary Olympic career is over.

The sailor, whose gold at Weymouth and Portland was his fourth in succession, is to concentrate instead on the America's Cup.

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