Clitheroe sailer Mark out to boost Ben’s Olympic bid

Mark Andrews
Mark Andrews
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MARK Andrews was a bit-part player in the hunt to represent Great Britain in the Finn class at London 2012, leaving Ben Ainslie and Giles Scott to battle it out.

But the 26-year-old Clitheroe-born sailor insists he is ready to play a much larger role as he helps the Ainslie fine tune his assault to become the greatest ever sailor.

With Ainslie and Scott locked in a tight battle to take the sole London 2012 spot, Andrews’ talents have somewhat gone under the radar, despite impressive results such as finishing fifth at last week’s Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta.

That event took place at the London 2012 venue – the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy – and with the world’s best descending on the south coast with the Games less than 50 days away, Andrews’ achievement is no mean feat.

However, despite losing out on a London 2012 spot to three-time Olympic champion Ainslie, Andrews will play his part in the hunt for a fourth crown as he trains his compatriot up – and he can’t wait to get going.

“Obviously I wanted to be as high up the standings at the end of Sail for Gold as possible but the result wasn’t everything,” said Andrews – who came seventh at the Finn World Championships in May.

“I came to Weymouth without any real aims because of having our World Championships down in Falmouth so that was the main goal for the year.

“Sail for Gold was a bit of the down step but it was obviously still an important regatta for the Olympic guys with it being the final regatta before the Games.

“We are obviously in Weymouth now to train with Ben because obviously we want him to do as well as he can in two months’ time.

“Although I won’t be competing myself at London 2012 it is nice to know that I am playing my part with Ben and I will be doing all I can to help him achieve his goal of getting that gold.”

With Scott winning Sail for Gold, Ainslie ending with silver and Andrew Mills finishing one place behind Andrews in sixth, Finn sailing has never been stronger in this country.

And, with just one place available for the Rio Olympics in four years’ time, Andrews is preparing himself for another tough battle, although he believes he will be better prepared having gone through it all already.

“There is a lot to focus on but I have a better grip of it all now and I will take all this experience forward to Rio,” he added. “And being involved in this selection process will help me out next time for Rio.

“The Finn will obviously be pretty close again next time around with a lot of good British sailors still around. After we have done our job with Ben we will reassess and sort out our goals.

“But we are a pretty close team and all come together but when it comes to the knitty gritty we all get down to business.”

• Investment specialist Skandia is the principal sponsor of the British sailing team. For more information go to www.skandiateamgbr.com