Young guns

Richard Langdon / Skandia Team GBR
Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell on their blast into the 470 class
We won’t mention the Princess Sofia Trophy last week, where they finished a disappointing 32nd, however one of the top tales to come from Olympic classes racing last year was when after just a week in the boat together, British nippers Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell went to the 470 World Championship in Denmark and astonished everyone, not least themselves, by coming home with silver. This was ahead of the likes of team-mates, veteran double silver medallist Nick Rogers and double World Champions Nic Asher and Elliot Willis. The pairing came together after the normal round of incest and wife-swapping that goes on in the early days of Olympic cycles. Luke Patience had parted ways with his crew Chris Gribb in April and sailed a few regattas in the early summer with Cal McDonald, who previously Bithell had sailed with in 470s. “But he had grown quite a lot and his heart wasn’t quite in it,” says Patience. “So that ended in June and at that point I felt my options were running out and the Worlds were fast approaching and if it wasn’t this World’s it would be a whole more year and it would be getting close to the trials and it would be getting a bit difficult.” 23 years old, Patience comes from Helensborough on the west coast of Scotland where he is a member of the Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club. He grew up making the text book progression through Optimists and into 420s, where he was one of the top performers – national champions and earning a silver at the Europeans. Leaving school he says his heart was set on an Olympic 470 campaign. With his former crew Chris Gribb, he won the 470 Junior Europeans and bronze at the Junior Worlds. Bithell, also 23, heralds from