by Lindsey Bell
RYA Dinghy Show 2013 Day 2 is underway at Alexandra Palace in London today, Sunday 3rd March. Two-time Olympic silver medal-winning sailor Joe Glanfield is set to make his competitive comeback, having been announced today as the man who will partner 2012 silver medallist Luke Patience in the quest for gold at Rio 2016. Patience and Glanfield unveiled their Rio 2016 campaign plans at the Show today.
Joe Glanfield and Luke Patience launch their Rio 2016 campaign at the RYA Dinghy Show, Alexandra Palace on Sunday 3 March
Scotsman Patience and his former crew Stuart Bithell called time on their successful double act in the 470 class at the end of 2012, with their combined body weight deemed too heavy to be a threat for gold in the expected light airs at the Brazilian Olympic venue.
Glanfield, whose previous long-standing partnership in the 470 with Nick Rogers encompassed three Olympic Games and reaped World Championship silver and silver medals at both Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, stepped away from competition after the China Games to focus on a coaching career.
The Exmouth sailor guided Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark to their World Championship gold and Olympic silver in the 470 class in 2012, but admits that his own desire to compete again was fuelled during that time.
'It’s been over four years since I was last sailing with Nick at the Beijing Olympics so I’ve been out doing other things, ' the 33-year-old explained. 'I coached at this Olympics and I loved it and learned a lot, but I realised that I still had a passion to compete myself and race myself.
'It was gnawing away at me that [Rio] might be my final opportunity, so when I started talking to Luke about the possibility of coming back, it just seemed too good an opportunity to turn down.
'We’ve known each other a long time, I’ve got a lot of respect for Luke and Stuart and how they went about their campaign last time, so I knew that we got on well. I just wanted to see if I could come back and see what I could do!'
Helensburgh’s Patience, 26, explained: 'Joe and I had been having conversations over the autumn period about sailing together. I think with Rio going to be a lighter [wind] venue and those changes coming along, and then Joe deciding he wanted to get back in a boat I was delighted and it all made complete sense that that was the right route to go down.
'We’ve known each other a long time and I have total respect for his skills and experience in the 470. I think we’re quite aware of each other’s strengths and what we can bring to a team, and we both felt that it was something that would work well together. I’m really excited – I’m always excited for the future!'
The pair have completed two Skandia Team GBR training camps in Murcia, Spain, this winter and are they are happy with their progress in these early days.
'In many respects it’s been a much bigger shock for me that it has been for Luke,' explained Glanfield. 'I was pretty out of shape and I’d barely set foot in a 470 for four years, so it’s been hard work!
'I’ve had to spend a lot of time in the gym getting my fitness up and losing a bit of weight, and then combining that with time on the water and just remembering the basics of sailing a 470.
'But it’s coming back quickly, and whilst I wouldn’t say we were going to set the world alight immediately, I think we’re working well together and we’re learning quickly so it’s all moving in the right direction.
'It’s reminded me how much I love sailing and I love competing, and I feel very at home doing it.'
The duo will make their competitive debut at the ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta in Palma, Majorca, at Easter, but admit that a podium finish at their first event together is an unlikely prospect.
Glanfield said: 'I think for me I’m very focussed [this year] on getting to a level of sailing which is where I’m sailing the boat well and sailing the boat fast, am communicating well with Luke and am sharp on the racecourse. If I can get to that standard then we’ll have a good year.'
'It’s going to be a hard season, and it’s going to be a hard three and a half years,' Patience agreed.
'There are some very strong teams still in the fleet, and it’s a professional sport so the Olympics will be as hard as ever, but we’ll hopefully give ourselves the best chance when the time comes.'
Stephen Park, RYA Olympic Manager, said of the new partnership: 'Joe is obviously a very experienced campaigner and a proven performer at the highest level of 470 sailing, so while we’re sorry to be losing him from the coaching staff, we’re delighted to see his return to competition.
'His experience and track record combined with Luke’s own talents, relative youth and enthusiasm make for an exciting partnership and I look forward to seeing their progress in the months to come.'
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