Golden chance for Patience and Bithell

Dorset Echo: Team GB’s Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell racing downwind in one of the men’s 470 race Team GB’s Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell racing downwind in one of the men’s 470 race

OUR sailors are going for gold again today.

A thrilling medal showdown is set to get underway between Great Britain’s and Australia’s 470 dinghy contenders.

Portland ’s Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell are guaranteed at least a silver medal at their first ever Olympic Games.

However the first-time Olympians could upgrade it to a ‘shinier’ gold one if they can finish with one boat between them and their Australian rivals Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page.

With just four points separating the two teams at the top of the 470 Men’s leaderboard there is everything to play for when the double-points racing gets underway at 1pm today on the spectator Nothe course.

Helm Patience, of Weston, described it as a ‘win-win situation’ saying: “It’s theirs to lose and ours to win.”

The 26-year-old said he expected some one-on-one aggressive match racing from the Australians, who would be trying to take control of the Brits to claim victory.

He said: “They’ve been doing it all week, we’ve done it to them as well. Game on.”

Crew Bithell said they were feeling ‘relaxed and happy’ going into the showdown in silver medal position.

He said: “We’re under no pressure there, the Aussies are under more pressure, it feels like the expectation is on them.”

The 25-year-old said he hoped the light wind forecast would not result in racing being called off, with medals awarded on the current standings.

He said: “Obviously we want our shot at it.”

Bithell said the pair had been having such fun this week in the big breezes they had shouted ‘woo hoo’ going over the waves.

He said: “To be honest we’ve been blessed with the weather, we like the wind and it’s been a fairly windy week, we’re very good in that, the Aussies are very good in that.”

During yesterday’s rest day Patience and Bithell went through a few ‘match racing scenarios’ with their coach and their veteran teammates Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy.

Bithell said: “We’ve been getting advice off Ben and Iain, some of the best match racers in the world. They’ve been telling us about the different techniques and the way you can sting them on penalties.

“Especially if it’s light on the Nothe course, it plays to our strengths.”

Bithell cited how double Olympic gold and silver medallist Percy and crewmate Andrew Simpson had missed out on gold when their rivals benefited from a windshift on this course.

He added: “Hey, Percy and Bart lost a medal when they were the favourites: Let’s get one back again.”

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