On your left is Ben Ainslie, with two Olympic gold medals in the Finn, five Finn world championship, Finn Europeans titles and a lot else besides. On your right is Giles Scott, bronze medalist at last year’s worlds in San Francisco, winner of the Miami OCR and one of the brightest talents in the Finn class at the moment. Each is putting 100 per cent into qualifying for the Olympic Games in 2012 in the Finn class.
Both are currently competing at the Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia in Palma, Spain where Ainslie holds an eight point lead over Scott with three races to sail. Between them they have seven race wins between them, with Ainslie currently having the upper hand with five race wins – including two in today’s gold fleet – against a measly two wins for Scott. The final shoot out to see who gets the gold will be enthralling. Will experience continue to win out over youth?
The problem for the GBR selectors is that they both represent Great Britain, and only one place per country is allowed. Ainslie, 34, is vastly more experienced, has proven he can handle the pressure and could be argued as the safe bet. He has proven it again and again. Meanwhile Scott is undoubtedly extremely talented, but is also 10 years younger. He’s done his apprenticeship and is starting to shine. He is starting to win lots of races and regattas. He is clearly the face of the future. But who do you send?
Moreover, the problem for the selectors gets worse than just Ainslie and Scott, as lurking in sixth place in Palma after a below average regatta for him so far is the current world champion Ed Wright, and also the winner for the past two years of the ISAF Sailing World Cup series. To be fair to Wright, the conditions this week in Palma have been pretty taxing for most, though having said that both Ainslie and Scott are the only sailors out of the 85 boat fleet to maintain a single digit scoreline throughout the shifty and changeable week. – Robert Deaves. photo by Nico Martinez.