OLYMPIC sailing manager Stephen Park has defended the decision to select triple Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie for the home Games over Portland’s Giles Scott.
Park, known as Sparky, praised Scott’s ‘master class in Finn sailing’ at this week’s Skandia Sail for Gold regatta.
UK Finn national champion Scott’s formidable performance in the latest World Cup series event saw him claim gold with a 30-point margin over his fellow countryman, and this year’s UK Olympic
Ainslie, who had been suffering from a virus, capsized in the final medal race and finished last, which emphasised Scott’s lead.
Sparky said Britain’s boats had dominated the Finn event for the past couple of years.
He said: “Ben hasn’t been well, at the beginning of the week we did consider if actually racing was the right thing to do or not.
“Ben was pretty keen to race, he didn’t want to be seen to be withdrawing.
“He’s been very tired after winning the World Championships and then having a really busy week of press work with the Olympic torch relay, he needs a little bit of time to recover.
“The virus he had earlier in the week did not set him up well, but like the true champion he is, he battled away and got in a position where he was still able to challenge Giles.
“Unfortunately fatigue got to him right at the end, I can’t remember the last time I saw Ben capsize but he managed to hold on and get silver.”
He added: “Giles sailed a Finn master class this week, it was a really excellent performance.
“I don’t regret the selection for Team GB.
“Ben’s a great champion, the Olympics is a different environment, experience really counts when you get to the Games and he’s got that in spades.
“In Falmouth he demolished the fleet to win the World Champion-ships and I’ve no doubt that’s what he’ll do come the Games.
“In an ideal world we’d have Giles sailing there too, the downside of our sport is you can only have one representative per country in each class.
“There’s no other person in the fleet who would be challenging Ben for that gold medal.
“Obviously it’s very disappointing for Giles that he’s not going to get the opportunity this time around but hopefully he’ll keep going and will get that chance next time around.”
Scott, 24, told of his pain at having beaten all the London 2012 Olympic contenders yet being denied a shot at the actual event.
He said: “Obviously Olympic sailing is all about the Olympics so it’s pretty painful but it was more painful this time last year.
“That’s the time it was really over for me but I’ve had a year to get used to it, I’ve branched out and I’m doing other sailing, I’m enjoying Finn sailing, I’m in an all right place for it all.”
He added: “Of course I would fancy my chances of a medal if I were going to the Olympics but I’m not so it is pointless thinking about it.”
Triple Olympic gold and silver medallist Ainslie, who achieved selection after winning the 2011 Sail for Gold and the Olympic test event, described the 2012 Sail for Gold medal race as ‘a
He said: “It wasn’t the greatest race I’ve ever sailed in my life.
“It’s a bit embarrassing going for a swim but sometimes these things happen and thankfully it wasn’t the Olympic Games.
“I’ve not been 100 per cent this week and didn’t sail particularly well but you have to deal with those things and to finish second isn’t a bad result.
“It was really tough out there and will be tough all the way up to the Olympics.”