HE WAS his hero growing up, then he was a training partner ahead of the Beijing and London Olympics, but now Mark Andrews is desperate to emulate Sir Ben Ainslie in Team GB colours.
Just one British sailor can represent Britain in the Finn class at the Rio Games in 2016 and emulate the achievements of Ainslie – arguably the world’s greatest-ever sailor with four Olympic golds to his name.
And, with four British Finn sailors in the world’s top ten, including Andrews, this September’s World Championships in Spain will be the first key indicator as to who will represent us.
Ainslie’s heir apparent is far from obvious as a host of Brits are fighting it out for the one Olympic Finn spot, with Ed Wright, Giles Scott, Andrew Mills and Andrews all evenly matched.
But Andrews, competing at last weekend’s J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, is determined to take his chance.
“Someone has got to step up and put his name down. I think whoever wins those World Championships will be in prime position for the Games,” said Andrews.
“There is only one spot. Four into one doesn’t go. In previous years, we’ve had the likes of Ben and Iain Percy who have done the business.
“It’s someone else’s turn to step up.”
In 2013 Andrews was part of Ainslie’s crew that broke the multihull record during the Round the Island Race, completing the event in 2hrs 52mins.
With a lack of wind hindering all competitors, it was a very different story all-together this year, though for Andrews it was simply the challenge of stepping away from his normal single-handed Finn and being part of a team. “This was my fourth time at Round the Island,” he added. “I’ve done it twice with Ben.”
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, www.roundtheisland.org.uk