Olympic silver medal pairing Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell split up

Scotsman Patience continuing to seek selection in the 470 dinghy

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The Independent Online

The Olympic silver medal pairing of Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell is splitting up with Scotsman Patience continuing to seek selection in the 470 dinghy but Lancastrian Bithell moving from crew to helm his own campaign in the high performance 49er skiff.

The light winds expected in Rio in 2016 mean that their combined weight is above the optimum required for the conditions.

“We’ve always been one of the heavier 470 teams on the circuit, and even with a four-year long rabbit food diet, we’re still going to be naturally too heavy as a crew to realistically be threatening for gold in Rio,” said the 25-year-old Patience, who was the first Scottish athlete to be selected for Team GB for 2012.
“We both knew it would be an issue and so it really was a no-brainer that we would need to do something differently if we’re to get onto that top step of the podium in four years’ time.  We’re good mates and we both want that for each other, so although it’s been a blast and I’ll miss sailing with Luke, we know it’s the right decision to take,” said Bithell, also 25.

There should be plenty of funding. Royal Yachting Association performance director John Derbyshire commenting on yesterday’s UK Sport funding announcement for sailing for 2013-2017 said: “Sailing’s Olympic award of £24,515,072, as announced by UK Sport, is broadly welcomed and will enable us to start implementing our plans for the Rio cycle, off the back of having successfully delivered another five medals at the Olympic Games this summer to remain one of Great Britain’s most consistently high-performing Olympic sports.”

In the Southern Ocean the turn and turn about lead swapping between François Gabart and Armel l Cléac’h continues as they race in the Vendée Globe round the world singlehanded.

Separated by less than five miles, Gabart was in the lead as they headed on a course south of New Zealand, separated by 500 miles from third-placed Jean-Pierre Dick.

Holding on to fourth place, but over 800 miles behind the leaders, is Alex Thomson, putting in a gritty performance with Bernard Stamm chasing just 20 miles astern. Mike Golding is seventh, 1,750 miles behind the leaders.