In the run up to Tokyo 2020 we will be bringing you guest blogs from the Team GB selected athletes who will give you an insight in to their lives ahead of the Olympic Games – this month, Olympic champion Finn sailor Giles Scott.
My sailing has been in two parts for some time now. The Olympics is obviously one element, but I have also had another focus that has recently come to an end. So, unlike the blogs that have gone before me, I’m going to broaden the usual month out to a little longer.
Over this Olympic campaign I’ve been part of INEOS Team UK so a lot of my time and effort has been involved in the America’s Cup. Until recently I’ve been in New Zealand, since September actually, focussing on the Cup, so it’s been a while.
Like everyone, Covid has impacted our lives but New Zealand was a different experience. We had to quarantine for two weeks when we arrived but once we had got through that it was back to ‘old school normality’. I just got to work getting the boat ready.
You forget about other things once you get into a routine but basically every day in New Zealand was taken up just thinking about the Cup. We had to launch and commission our boat in New Zealand, bring new kit online and ultimately get the team and the boat ready to race. I just lived out the final five months of an America’s Cup campaign, which is always the most full-on part of a Cup cycle.
But, ultimately, we didn’t get as far as we had hoped – and congratulations goes to winners Emirates Team New Zealand.
Looking back, it was a total rollercoaster. Our darkest day was probably the last day of the America’s Cup World Series, the first event before Christmas. It really highlighted the major issues we had, but from that point on the focus was getting the boat up to speed and bridging the gap.
It was an up-and-down experience but the whole team came together and we did some great work. We were up a creek without a paddle at one stage but it’s credit to the team the way we rallied together. That showed in the round robin stage where we did well and got ourselves back into the fight. Even though it all ended in disappointment and frustration there was an awful lot of positivity that came out it.
While that was the America’s Cup, I always knew I had the Olympics as well. I took two Finns down with me, but with the greatest will in the world I knew they probably weren’t going to get used. I had them there for peace of mind more than anything else and in the whole time I was in New Zealand I used them three times.
It would have been nice to do a few more days but now I’m fully back and in the boat things are progressing well. I’ll have to see how things go when I join the international fleet again but I’m under no illusions I’ll have heaps to do.
Looking at the bigger picture, this whole situation has come about because of a global pandemic. Things have changed, dates and times have changed. It has not been a normal time to say the least, but that’s just how things are. You have to deal with the cards you have been dealt and crack on.
I was lucky that my schedule allowed for both an America’s Cup challenge and an Olympic Games, two opportunities I was not prepared to give up on. So, on one hand I have some massive opportunities and on the other my Finn competitors are getting a lot of training in. My challenge is to bridge a gap between now and the Olympics and that’s what I’m focussing on.
Even though I haven’t been sailing in the Finn as much there has still been lessons to learn. I’ve been part of a team, racing in a pinnacle event of our sport dealing with adversity, who knows, lessons learnt there could be the difference in Japan.
The immediate future is very much Finn sailing. I did some training in Weymouth and now it’s out to Vilamoura, Portugal, for the Europeans in mid-April. There’s no rest, I’m straight back into the deep end.
I have to squeeze in a year’s worth of preparation into four months and that is on me to ensure I accelerate that as much as possible, but at the same time I need to be sensible and not go too hard.
I need to put the building blocks in place from now until the Games – it’s all focussed in on the Games now, even more so than it usually would be.