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America's Cup: Current Olympic champion will bring Finn to Auckland

by Tom Cary/Daily Telegraph/ 3 Apr 00:14 BST 3 April 2020
Giles Scott - Finn - GBR - Medal Race - Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar - Day 6- April 6, 2019 © Sailing Energy

A rejigged Tokyo2020 Olympic Sailing Regatta has forced a rethink for current Olympic Champion, Giles Scott (GBR), who is a key sailing crew member of British America's Cup Challenger, INEOS Team UK.

He hopes to be able to bring his Finn class dinghy to Auckland to keep training ahead of the 2021 America's Cup in New Zealand.

His skipper, Sir Ben Ainslie, skipper, told Sail-World on Wednesday that he wants the British Challenger, to be in New Zealand in August-September this year. That timetable should give Scott some opportunity to work out with two Emirates Team New Zealand crew members Josh Junior and Andy Maloney who are both vying for Olympic selection in the Finn class.

Ainslie told Sail-World, in a yet to be published interview, that the British team were happy to comply with any quarantine requirements that may be required as part of an eight month stay.

Junior is the reigning World Champion and the opportunity to train against the current Olympic champion will benefit both the Kiwi and British Olympic campaigns. Maloney, who along with Junior was also a member of the sailing crew in the Emirates Team New Zealand crew in Bermuda. Maloney also got the not ahead of Junior for the Olympic Test event in Enoshima last August, finishing fourth. While both started strongly in the 2019 Finn Gold Cup, Junior prevailed beating both Maloney and Scott. The 2020 World Championship in the class was due to have been held in May, but will be re-scheduled. Scott was announced last October as the British Finn representative in Tokyo2020, now being sailed at Enoshima in late July 2021.

Scott finished third in the Olympic Test event, just ahead of Maloney in fourth overall.

Ainslie, an America's Cup champion, is a four time Olympic Gold medalist in the Finn class and is the most successful Olympic sailor of all time. Ainslie started a string of British dominance in the Finn class winning eleven world championships between 2002-2016, and five Olympic Gold medals. Scott is a three times world champion in the class. Josh Junior's Finn Gold Cup win in 2019 was the first ever for a New Zealander - two New Zealanders Jonty Farmer (1976) and Dan Slater (2008) have placed second in the prestigious event.

The British team is well advanced with its preparations in Auckland, with the framework erected and ready to be closed in and for fit-out to begin.

In an interview with leading sailing journalist, Tom Cary, Scott has confirmed to Telegraph Sport that he intends to defend his Olympic Finn title in Tokyo next summer, saying he believes he can “juggle” the twin demands of the America’s Cup and the postponed Games in 2021 even if the short turnaround is “less than ideal”.

The 32-year-old had been due to retire from Olympic sailing following Tokyo 2020 but is prepared to go on for another 12 months, Cary writes.

Scott, who funds his Olympic campaign through his America’s Cup work, is due to fly out to New Zealand in December along with the rest of Ineos Team UK, in preparation for the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland next spring. Scott is tactician on Sir Ben Ainslie’s boat.

His involvement at AC36 will necessarily hamper his Olympic preparations, however. If Ineos reach the final match race against Emirates Team New Zealand, Scott will have just four months to prepare for Tokyo 2021.

“It’s certainly less ideal than had [Tokyo 2020] remained on schedule because obviously the build-up to both the Cup and the Games is crucial and now the overlap is a lot closer,” Scott said. “The Cup will end in late March, and the Games start on July 23. So it will be a logistical challenge. But I’ve started the [planning] process with my coach Matt [Howard]. There’s no doubt it can work.”

Scott, 32, said he would most likely have to take his Olympic gear down to New Zealand with him, and try to snatch the odd training session while in Auckland. But he conceded that would not be easy.

While Ainslie is a four-time Olympic champion himself (three of those titles coming in the Finn), and understands better than anybody the challenge Scott faces, Ineos has ploughed over £100 million into this America’s Cup campaign and that will be the overriding priority.

For the full story in the Daily Telegraph click here

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