WITH the likes of Sir Ben Ainslie not competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics, medal hopes now rest with the next generation of Team GB sailing stars – and Portland’s Luke Patience is determined to do just that in Brazil.
Patience, a London 2012 Olympic silver medalist, is now competing alongside Elliot Willis and knows the race to Rio gathers significant momentum at September’s World Champion-ships in Santander – a regatta where all Rio classes will be represented.
With just one British boat able to represent Team GB in each individual discipline at the Rio Olympic Games, Patience knows how crucial it will be to put down a marker in Spain.
And having taken the weekend off to compete at the J.P. Morgan Round the Island Race for the first time, Patience also knows the hard work will start again immediately as he looks to achieve his life-long dream of following in the footsteps of Ainslie and claiming Olympic gold.
“The Olympic cycle is going well, Elliot and I teamed up earlier in the year which is a late partnership for Rio,” said Patience.
“But we both collectively had our previous partners retire. They started the cycle and were like ‘nope’, so that was a bit of common ground for us.
“We’ve known each other for years and we’ve actually hit the ground running. We’re Britain’s number one and I think we’re ranked three in the world and we’ve just started.
“So we’re really up and running now but there’s plenty work to do, two years worth of hard, hard work.
“But I can honestly stand here and say that I’m confident we can arrive on the start line for the Olympic Games and be a team that can bring home a gold medal.”
Patience admitted his time sailing against amateurs had been a welcome change of pace.
Normally, Patience races in the 470 fleet alongside Willis, but being in an extended crew had been an enjoyable experience.
“It was my first RTI race, I had never done it before and it was really cool to be there,” he added.
“I really liked it, it’s good British stuff and it’s a great event to finally be a part of.
“We’re mid season at the minute and this is something that comes at a nice time.
“I’ve been lucky enough that team Volvo invited us over and we got the chance to do it.
“It’s just a really nice thing to do aside from all the Olympic stuff.”
The J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race is one of the largest participation sporting events in the UK and the largest yacht race of its kind in the world.
Organised by the Island Sailing Club in Cowes, it is dubbed ‘Britain's favourite yacht race’, regularly attracting around 1,500 boats and 16,000 competitors.