Britain’s 470 Men duo Luke Patience and Chris ‘Twiggy’ Grube will be gunning for the Olympic podium exactly 10 years after they first won a Junior Worlds medal together when their Rio 2016 campaign gets underway on Wednesday (10 August).
London 2012 silver medallist, Patience, and Olympic newcomer Grube first sailed together for four years early in their Olympic classes careers, including winning bronze at the 2006 470 Junior Worlds in Germany before parting ways in 2009.
The pair resurrected their partnership earlier this year after Patience’s 470 crew Elliot Willis was diagnosed with cancer in late 2015, and fifth at the 2016 Worlds and Sailing World Cup Weymouth and Portland bronze signalled their rapid progress.
Now Scotsman Patience, from Helensburgh, and Chester’s Grube, dad of an 18-month-old son, believe that despite playing catch-up on the rest of the fleet, their long-term friendship can help provide the foundations for a Rio medal push.
Patience said: “Chris is a soft, gentle guy and for a wee whippersnapper like me that's a good thing. Seven months out from the Games, I asked so much of him. He's got a family, he had been renovating a house and I asked him, ‘Can you stop all that and come Olympic sailing with me?’ It's actually a really nice thing to be able to call someone and say, ‘Do you want to go and do something really cool together?”
“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.”
Grube continued: “Elliot is a friend of everyone on the team, and all I can do is do my best to carry on his legacy in the boat. He had done a lot with Luke to build the campaign and I feel like I’m taking it on. I’m very lucky to be given the opportunity to sail with Luke again because I always felt that we were a good team.
“Luke is such a hard working individual, he has the temperament to really drive a campaign forwards, and that is where I believe we’re quite similar. It is just enjoyable to sail with someone that loves the sport so much. We’ve been nonstop since we started in December. It’s been quite a journey but great to experience.”
Grube is one of nine sailors – 60% of the team – making their Games debuts in Rio while it is Patience’s second Olympics after his London success with Stuart Bithell.
With Rio expected to provide some of the most challenging sailing conditions in recent Olympic history, the duo believe being part of a strong British sailing team can have an big impact on their regatta prospects.
Patience said: “Rio is immense, the most epic venue I’ve ever sailed at. The team is wildly different from London and it's a hugely different atmosphere. Historically the Brits have been wonderful in venues that are harder to predict so maybe that will stand us in good stead. We’ve got a great army behind us, if there is any team that is clocking off the controllables as much as they can then it is us.”
Grube added: “We’re a quick boat and we will be up there. There are a lot of people in the background that have really helped us get up to speed quickly. We’ve been putting everything in place to make sure that there’s an opportunity there for us to achieve what we’ve capable of. If everything falls into place we will medal.”
The 470 Men’s class is scheduled to contest an 11 race series, with two races per day on 10, 11, 12, 14 and 15 August before the final one off medal race on Wednesday 17 August.
To follow the 470 Men’s fortunes at Rio 2016 visit www.rya.org.uk/Rio2016
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