PORTLAND’S Luke Patience and new crew Elliot Willis are both looking forward to addressing ‘unfinished business’ as they embark on their new 470 partnership in the wake of Joe Glanfield’s retirement.
Olympic silver medallist Patience, and Willis, a two-time world champion in the class, have teamed up in a bid to become Britain’s first 470 Olympic gold medallists at the Rio 2016 Games.
The 30-year-old Willis, who won the 470 World Championships in 2006 and 2008 with former helm Nic Asher, had been sailing with two-time Olympic silver medallist Nick Rogers during the 2013 season up until the World Championships in August.
The Sevenoaks sailor has since enjoyed a coaching stint with the British Sailing Team’s 470 Wo-men’s pairings of Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark and Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre.
But having narrowly missed out on the sole 470 selection berth for the 2008 and 2012 Games with Asher, Willis admits there is some unfinished business in terms of his own sailing ambitions, and is excited to be heading back on the campaign trail with Scotsman Patience, with Rio gold firmly in both their sights.
”I’m happy to be getting back into the boat again,” Willis explained. “This is an exciting opportunity to apply the things that I’ve learned from the big long campaign with Nic Asher, and then with Nick Rogers which, although a short campaign, was a very motivating time.”
“I’ve known Luke since the 420 days. I’ve been competing against him for the last eight to 10 years in the 470 – I know his strengths and a little bit about his weaknesses and hopefully we can gel and move forward.”
Patience remains resolute in his drive for Rio 2016 gold, and is excited by the challenge ahead and by the opportunity to sail with ‘serial medallist’ Willis, who he feels shares similar campaign values.
The 27-year-old said: “Elliot and I have spoken before about sailing with each other. We’ve known each other for many years now and I think that we probably understand each other quite well.”
The pair will head to Palma, Majorca, next week for training ahead of their first event, which will be the ISAF World Cup event at the Spanish venue from March 31-April 5.