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The University of Southampton

Top sports researcher involved in Britain's Olympic success presents RNLI Annual Lecture

Published: 25 November 2008

A fascinating insight into how engineering knowledge is applied to sport will be presented at this year's Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) Annual Lecture at the University of Southampton on 4 December 2008.

Dr Scott Drawer, Head of Research and Innovation at UK Sport, will be exploring the experiences of British Sport over recent years and the challenges ahead as the London Olympics in 2012 approach.

Research conducted by Dr Drawer and his team into sophisticated science, medicine, engineering and technological innovations has provided essential support and performance advantages that, along with years of hard training for the athletes, contributed to the resounding success of British athletes in the Beijing 2008 Olympics and Paralympics.

The RNLI Annual Lecture is in its eighth year and celebrates the lifesaving charity's Advanced Technology Partnership with the University of Southampton. Set up in 2001, the partnership aims to develop co-operative research and education in subjects of common interest to the two institutions, and to raise the profile of engineering sciences as an essential function in the design, fabrication and operation of high-performance marine craft.

The partnership involves research into lifeboat design, construction and operation to help solve practical problems the RNLI may face, as well as providing the tools for future designs. The knowledge and good practice built up through the partnership is also shared with a wider audience - both inside and outside the University and the RNLI.

Steve Austen, RNLI Head of Engineering Support, says: "We are absolutely thrilled that Dr Drawer is presenting at this year's RNLI Annual Lecture. The RNLI charity provides a 24/7 service for saving lives at sea, and relies on dedicated volunteers to crew its lifeboats. There should be some interesting parallels to explore between Dr Drawer's work and the way the RNLI uses science, engineering and technology to enhance the performance and preparedness of its volunteer lifeboat crews in their lifesaving role.

"The fascinating subject of the lecture is particularly relevant following the great success at this year's Beijing Olympics and Paralympics, and it will be excellent to learn more about the work and research that goes on behind the scenes in supporting Britain's best athletes.

Head of Research and Innovation at UK Sport
Dr Scott Drawer

"This is the eighth year of the superb technology partnership the RNLI has with the University of Southampton. The partnership continues to be highly valuable to both parties and the Annual Lecture is a great celebration of that."

Professor Ajit Shenoi of the University of Southampton adds: "The University is delighted that Dr Drawer has agreed to deliver this prestigious lecture. High performance and 'winning' are two key underpinning facets of research supported by UK Sport and RNLI into advances in maritime engineering sciences. University of Southampton staff and students have been engaged in such research activities for some time now and Dr Drawer's talk should stimulate renewed interest from young people into disciplines relating to maritime engineering."

The RNLI's 8th Annual Lecture takes place on Thursday 4 December 2008 at 6pm in the main lecture theatre in Building 32 on the University's Highfield campus. A map is available at:

Refreshments will be served from 5.30pm in the foyer. Tickets are free-of-charge and everyone is welcome.

Notes for editors

  • Members of the media are invited to attend the RNLI Annual Lecture at the University of Southampton on Thursday 4 December 2008 at 6pm. Please confirm your attendance by calling Laura Fennimore, RNLI Public Relations Officer, on the number listed below.

  • Dr Scott Drawer is the Head of Research and Innovation at UK Sport, the lead Government organisation that supports Great Britain's leading sports at major European, World, Olympic and Paralympic Games. He has been in post since 2004 and has overseen the delivery of over 75 projects and programmes across many sports, which have supported the British success at Beijing. His role provides a diverse range of requirements but ultimately is focused on harnessing very best academic and industrial expertise into a 'high performing unit' to deliver performance advantages for British athletes at major events. He completed his undergraduate degree at Brunel University (BSC Hons: 1st class), and postgraduate degrees at Loughborough University (MSc; PhD) through the disciplines of sports science, sports medicine and sports management.

  • For more information on the RNLI please visit or News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI Press Centre

    The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 230 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and has more than 100 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 137,000 lives. A charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SCO37736). Charity number CHY 2678 in the Republic of Ireland

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