Giles Scott might still be waiting for his Games bow but that isn’t stopping the most successful sailor in Olympic history Sir Ben Ainslie from backing him to bring back gold from Rio 2016.
Ainslie claimed his third successive Olympic Finn title at London 2012, adding to the silver and gold he claimed in the Laser at Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 respectively.
But despite his seemingly unstoppable charge to the top step of the podium in the summer of 2012 Ainslie had never been under so much pressure just to qualify for the Games.
With Ainslie concentrating on his America’s Cup duties after Beijing 2008, Scott came to the fore in the Finn and even beat him at the 2011 World Championships and winning gold.
Scott then beat Ainslie at the 2012 Sail for Gold Regatta on the London Olympic waters in Weymouth but it was the latter who would take Britain’s sole spot at the Games, having been selected in September 2011.
After writing his name in the record books Ainslie has moved away from Olympics sailing but he is adamant that Britain’s success can continue through Scott after he ran him closer than most in his near two decades of domination.
“Giles was involved with the America’s Cup which I’m sure was a great learning experience for him to be sailing with a team for the first time, and by all accounts I think he did a great job,” said Ainslie.
“But now I imagine his focus is on 2016 and trying to get that Olympic spot, which in sailing is tough.
“He’s already a world champion in the class he’s racing in and competing in so I expect him to put together a very strong challenge and be one of the favourites, if not the favourite, for 2016.
“I’d definitely say he was the frontrunner right now, he’s a really talented sailor and he’s proved already that he can perform at the highest level so I’m sure we’ll see a lot of him in the build up to Rio.
“I think moving back to Finn sailing was the right move, he is naturally very well suited to the Finn and he’s a big lad, a tall guy, certainly it’s something which he will do well in.”
Much like Ainslie in the build up to London 2012, despite his undeniable talent Scott won’t have it all his own way as he bids to take Britain’s sole Finn spot for Rio 2016.
Ed Wright, the 2010 Finn world champion, and Andrew Mills and Mark Andrews – ranked second and fourth in the world currently – will also be eyeing up the trip, but Ainslie is adamant the continued domestic rivalry will only serve to help everyone raise their game.
“It will be a close one, it’s always tough because there’s only one spot per nation,” he added.
“There is Andrew Mills, also Ed Wright, he’s a past world champion and still going so we’ve got a very high standard in that particular class.
“But as much as it’s tough for that one selection I think whoever eventually does get it will be in a very good position to do well.”
© Sportsbeat 2013