Patience and Grube have inspirations on and off the water

Luke Patience is a details guy. Those inspirational quotes about triumph and struggle aren't for him - he knows that in sailing, failing to prepare means preparing to fail.

Patience had plotted in minutiae every swell and squall of his road to Rio, resetting his sights on this moment just weeks after winning 470 class silver with Stuart Bithell four years ago in Weymouth.

Last summer, he described Rio as ‘a total obsession’ but in the last 12 months he has also learned the value of perspective.

Alongside partner Elliot Willis, Patience believed without flinching that their four-year programme would reach its inevitable conclusion, a gold medal upgrade on the waters of Guanabara Bay next week.

But all that changed with a phone call last November. Just a few weeks after their Olympic selection was confirmed, thanks to their world number two ranking, Willis was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

In moments like that, the Olympics, an all-consuming passion, becomes totally and utterly irrelevant.

“This is Elliot’s Olympics too, it would never have happened without him,” said Patience.

“What’s happened is tragic and so unfair and the world is just cruel sometimes - this happening to a young fit guy.”

Willis’s place in the boat was eventually taken by Chris Grube, though don’t ask for him by name - he’s universally known as ‘Twiggy’, a nickname that needs no explanation when you see him.

Patience and Grube sailed together for several years before the Scot started his London campaign with Bithell and he has been keen to embrace the gameplan that Patience and Willis had developed, embracing the project as if it was his own.

And despite trying to cram four years into eight months, the signs are positive. They ranked fifth at last year’s World Championships and have been posting some encouraging results on the World Cup circuit.

There’s been much negative talk about the sailing venue at Guanabara Bay but early conditions have been ideal, perfect conditions for the British crew to exploit.

Meaning Patience is daring to dream about claiming gold under the imposing backdrop of Sugarloaf Mountain, with Christ the Redeemer looking on, perhaps giving the British boat the advantage of some deserved divine intervention.

“Circumstances are obviously not ideal but we feel a responsibility to carrying on this project,” added Patience. ”We’re in a good place and the energy of Olympic year has carried us through.

“All the planning is great but things came when it becomes Olympic year - you can feel the energy and smell the fear every time you race. There is so much at stake and you need to have those instincts

"I think we can win, we’re getting better and we’re improving with every session on the water. We’re knocking on the door, for sure.

“Twiggy brings something different but this is still the process that Elliot and I started and that work is the foundation. The processes we discussed were right three years ago and they are right now too.

“I don't see any reason why Twiggy and I can't produce a result that will bring home any colour of medal. It's a tall, tall order, but somebody has to win.

"I'm not new to the sport, Twiggy’s not new to the sport. I like being the underdog. I'll be the freest man on the racecourse. We have nothing to lose and whatever happens, I know I've worked harder than everyone that I'm on the start-line with.

“It’s been a very emotional and manic few months and that has a mental impact on your preparations.

“I think when this all stops next week, and I finally breathe out, I'll realise how full on this period has been.

“I’ve spent so long moving at 100mph that I can’t remember what it’s like to slow down.”

Sportsbeat 2016