Giles Scott, Britain’s defending Olympic Finn Champion, will face New Zealand’s Josh Junior at the Tokyo Olympics in two months’ time.
In a ‘left-field’ decision Yachting New Zealand selected Josh Junior ahead of training partner Andy Maloney for the Tokyo Finn event, despite Maloney capturing the Finn Gold Cup (World Championship) in Portugal ahead of Junior, who finished in third place.
Junior was the 2019 Finn Gold Cup winner and also the New Zealand Finn representative in Rio 2016 where he finished seventh when Scott took the Gold . . . Scott finished ninth at the recent 2021 Gold Cup event in Portugal.
Scott has had an up and down return to the class following a considerable time-out to compete with the British America’s Cup team, and has vowed to ‘do better’ following the poor Gold Cup result, which followed a second place in the earlier European Championships.
The Olympic fleet is only 19 strong which will present a tighter competition than the bigger fleets of open International events, where a wrong move can post an irrecoverable score line.
As well as Josh Junior, Scott is set to face the 2021 European champion Zsombor Berecz (HUN) and Joan Cardona (ESP) who was second in the Gold Cup event.
Another major medal challenger is likely to be Holland’s Nicholas Heiner, a former Laser class world champion proving very fast in the Finn.
New Zealand will only be represented in six of the Olympic sailing events despite having qualified in all ten.
Their sailors in the women’s 470, Laser Radial and men’s and women’s RS:X did not meet Yachting New Zealand’s tough selection criteria.
Junior joins a very strong team headed by the all dominating 49er pair, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke . . . Plus strong medal prospects with Alex Maloney and Molly Meech in the 49erFX, Sam Meech in the Laser, Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox in the men’s 470, and Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson the Nacra 17.
All in all Yachting New Zealand presented a typical pragmatic team selection, which is followed across the whole of the New Zealand Olympic team.