Olympic champion Giles Scott says he’s got one eye on the 2019 Finn world title and the other on Tokyo 2020 as he returns to action next week.
Scott will take on the world’s best at the Finn Gold Cup, the class’s world championship regatta, in Melbourne, Australia, in the last major event of the year.
It will also be the first world championships he’s competed in since taking gold at the Rio Olympics in 2016, the same year as his last world title.
In May Scott won his third European championship, and in October was among the first athletes picked for Team GB.
He’s clear that he’s out to win Down Under when the 74-boat fleet hits the water on Monday.
But with just over seven months until his Olympic title defence begins on the waters of Enoshima, the 32-year-old from Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, says he can’t lose sight of the bigger picture.
“World championships are always important, and this will be the first I’ll have done this cycle,” said three-time world champion Scott.
“It feels like this event is the start of next season rather than the finish of this one. In my mind the Olympic test event was the last event of the season, and it signalled the start of the year countdown to Tokyo.
“The worlds is obviously one that everyone wants to do well at, and of course I want to win. That being said, all the work we’ve been doing over the last month has been with the Games in mind as opposed to the worlds.
“It’s a balancing act – of course I want to come here and do well, but I also have to use the time effectively ahead of the Games.”
Similar to in the Rio cycle, Scott has held down two full-time jobs in the run-up to Tokyo 2020: campaigning his Finn and deputising to Sir Ben Ainslie in the Team INEOS UK America’s Cup challenge.
While his time in the Finn has been limited, the shipping of Team INEOS’s 75ft yacht Britannia to Cagliari in Sardinia has proved the perfect opportunity for Scott to put the hours in in Melbourne.
A month of training alongside the British Sailing Team’s Finn contingent, including Ed Wright and Henry Wetherell, under the watchful eye of coach Matt Howard has proved priceless.
“Training’s been going really well – I’ve been able to do quite a lot of Finn sailing over the past few weeks while our America’s Cup boat is in transit,” Scott added.
“I’ve had a decent three- or four-week training block in which is great news going into the worlds but also as a foundation for the year ahead.
“The venue’s great and I’m looking forward to some great racing. We’ve had a lot of short, steep chop which is challenging in the Finn. A typical day has been 12 to 17 knots but December can be unpredictable, so it’ll be interesting to see what we get next week.”
While the weather isn’t guaranteed, one thing that’s for sure will be the high level of competition that Scott will face.
Among the line-up will be 2018 world champion Zsombor Berecz, 2017 winner Max Salminen and British compatriot Wright, the 2018 European champion.
Rather than cower at the prospect, Scott is relishing the opportunity to stamp his authority over his rivals.
“I’ve been getting excited about Tokyo for two years but now it’s really starting to ramp up,” Scott said. “The Games are just round the corner and it’s time to get down to business.”