Sailing: England to counter Kiwis with own Olympic champion

Britain's Giles Scott celebrates winning the men's Finn sailing race at the 2016 Olympics. Photo / AP
Britain's Giles Scott celebrates winning the men's Finn sailing race at the 2016 Olympics. Photo / AP

England is set to call upon a champion Olympic sailor from the Rio Games to partner up with America's Cup star Sir Ben Ainslie and see off the Kiwi threat of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.

Giles Scott, who won a gold medal for Great Britain in the Finn class in Rio, is being courted by Ainslie who wants him to abandon plans to defend his title at the Japan 2020 Olympics and instead team with him to help deliver an historic first America's Cup win for England.

Ainslie was the key man in Oracle's dramatic America's Cup victory over the Dean Barker-led Team NZ in 2014 in San Francisco. After the regatta, Ainslie announced he was leaving Oracle to front an all-England campaign to win the Auld Mug.

And now he has decided he wants Scott alongside him in the Louis Vuitton qualifying serises which will include a Team NZ crew set to be led by Burling and Tuke, winners of the 49ers gold medal in Rio.

Scott's immediate task is to join Ainslie's Land Rover Racing team which hopes to challenge America's Cup defender Oracle Team USA in June 2017 in Bermuda.

Ainslie beat Scott to Team GB's one spot in the Finn at London 2012, but the two men are now set to become team-mates in one of sailing's greatest competitions.

Scott's interest has been fired by the confidence expressed in him and a belief that matching Ainslie's Olympic Finn class hat-trick is beyond him.

Ainslie's won the Finn gold medal in Athens in 2004, again in Beijing four years later and then again in London, making him the most successful sailor in Olympic history.

He claimed Scott could "dominate the class through the next Olympic cycle and further if he chooses to" after his comprehensive success in Brazil.

But Scott, 29, has said: "I haven't given Tokyo 2020 any serious thought. I'm not going to sell my equipment and I will keep my boats. But I'm not going to commit to anything.

"And I'll be 37 in 2024 - and that's too old. The Olympics is the biggest part of what we do, but in terms of doing multiple Olympics I don't know. There are a lot of options in the sailing world."

Ainslie's British boat currently leads the way in the America's Cup World Series standings - the heats used for the 2017 Bermuda-based event - heading into the next race weekend in Toulon on September 10-11.

The World Series uses 44-foot long AC45 catamarans, a one-design wingsail boat which has a six-man crew.

"It is very different to Olympic sailing, the polar opposite really," said Scott. "The AC boats have a speed of 35 knots compared to the seven knots that the Finns do.

"This is the pinnacle of yacht sailing, but it also very much a design race like Formula One. It is a yacht race but you are never going to win it unless you have got right design.

"You need a talented team of sailors and designers, and it would be great if we could bring the America's Cup back to the UK."

-Staff reporters and the Telegraph

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