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Interview with Giles Scott: Finn champion talks about his sailing

by Jonny Fullerton 26 Nov 2015 15:47 GMT 26 November 2015
Giles Scott on day 1 of the Finn Gold Cup in New Zealand © Robert Deaves

Jonny Fullerton caught up with defending champion Giles Scott just before the Finn Gold Cup started at Takapuna Boating Club in New Zealand to talk about his Olympic campaign and balancing his time with his America's Cup commitments.

Jonny Fullerton: Giles, you've won the Finn Gold Cup twice before now and a third time would mean you join some of the real legends of the class, it's quite a special event this isn't it?

Giles Scott: It absolutely is. I think the Finn class as a whole holds a great deal of heritage and at the heart of that is the Gold Cup. It's certainly the event that everyone wants to win year to year and this year is certainly no different from that. The fleet has travelled down here to New Zealand and it's as strong as ever, arguably as strong as it ever has been, and I'm sure it's going to be a tough fought week.

JF: You're on a long streak of two years undefeated in a major Finn championship and as current holder you're named as the hot favourite. Does that put any additional pressure on you as the man with the target on his back as it were?

GS: Potentially yes. It's certainly something that I don't shy away from. If it's there then so be it. I suppose I welcome it as much as I can and I think if you asked anyone out there then they'd rather have the target on their back than be chasing and I'm happy with the way I've been sailing and how recent regattas have gone, but a lot of those regattas have been incredibly hard fought and I think this week is going to be no different. It's certainly going to be a slog of a week.

JF: JF: The conditions out here can be quite tricky, but you've spent quite a bit of time out here in Auckland with the Luna Rossa America's Cup team so you do know the waters quite well. What sort of things are you expecting this week?

GS: Typically here is generally windy offshore, but it can offer anything. the long-range forecast has it being onshore 10-15 knots and whether that changes we don't know. Auckland as a whole is really changeable and a very difficult place to predict, so we have to be open to anything, it could be windy and it could be light, and we just have to be ready for that.

JF: Do you favour any particular conditions?

GS: I like to think I'm capable of winning in any conditions, whether it be a light week or a windy week. As with almost every form of yacht racing, as the breeze increases it becomes more and more of a drag race and the same guys end up winning the races and obviously a load more variables get thrown in as the wind gets lighter which takes a different approach.

JF: You're part of the Land Rover BAR America's Cup team and they've got quite a full programme next year, so how do you juggle that with your Olympic campaign?

GS: I've been with Land Rover BAR now for just over a year and combining the two has been reasonably seamless. I've got a good agreement with Ben and everyone that up until 2016 my main focus is my Finn sailing and the Olympics, and until after the games that's my priority. So I'll do a full Finn campaign and look to supplement it wherever I can with some America's Cup racing and helping out the guys in Portsmouth, but over the next 10 months Finn sailing certainly comes first.

JF: With only 9 months to go until Rio, how important is this regatta in your preparations? You've already qualified and everything's in place there, but how important is a medal performance here?

GS: I suppose in terms of selection and Rio, this regatta isn't of huge importance, but it's a World Championship and a chance to assert what you've been working on. It's an outcome regatta and it's one that I've been wanting to peak for. I've had two peaks, with one being the Test Event in Rio, and this is obvious the second one this season, so in that regard it's hugely important, but ultimately this next 10 months is about being successful in Rio and that's our focus. Anything we can do here to build to that we will - it's kind of two-fold really.

JF: Finally, with 2016 round the corner, what's your schedule up until the Olympics?

GS: I've got 3 or 4 trips out to Rio over the next 10 months and I'll supplement that with regattas. It's something that Matt (Howard) and I work on, we try to get the balance right between training and being race fresh. I imagine we'll try and do 4 or 5 regattas that we'll select to fit in with all the stuff we need to get done in training and testing.

JF: Best of luck and I hope to see you on the podium at the end of this week.

GS: Thank you.

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