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Round the Island scramble is welcome relief for Olympic sailing hopeful
WITH the likes of Sir Ben Ainslie not competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics, it now falls on the next generation of Team GB stars to impress – and Luke Patience is determined to do just that in Brazil.
Patience, a London 2012 silver medallist, will compete alongside Elliot Willis and knows that the race to Rio gathers significant momentum at September’s World Championships in Santander – a regatta where all Olympic classes will be represented.
With just one British boat able to represent Team GB in each individual discipline in Rio, Patience knows how crucial it will be to put down a marker in Spain.
Having taken the weekend off to compete at the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race for the first time, he 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 in 2016.
“The Olympic cycle is going well. Elliot and I teamed up earlier in the year, which is a late partnership for Rio,” he said.
“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.”
Patience admitted his weekend sailing against amateurs in the Round the Island Race had been a welcome change of pace.
Normally, he races in the 470 fleet alongside just Willis, but being part of an extended crew was an enjoyable experience.
“It’s my first RTI race. The atmosphere is amazing,” he said.
“It’s good British stuff and 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.
“All the boats on the water at the start just paint the water with sails and its funny when you think about it because it’s ordered chaos.
“There’s no room, but somehow everyone manages to get around and no-one gets hurt.”
The J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race (Saturday 21st June) 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 www.roundtheisland.org.uk