One of the nations qualified for Rio but which has not yet selected a sailor is Canada. There are two hopeful Canadians competing at the Finn European Championship in Barcelona this week, looking to impress the selectors and win a ticket to Rio.
While Martin Robitaille has been in the class for many years, including winning the 2012 Junior World Championship, this event is Tom Ramshaw's first season after just stepping into the boat in August last year.
He explains, “I was taking a break from the Laser and some of the Finn guys that are not here this week suggested I try the Finn at CORK which was the North Americans. So I tried that, had a good time, and ended up wining. So it was like, I have to continue as it was so much fun.”
He says in the Laser class he was consistently in the gold fleet, some top 20 finishes in Miami and a few podiums at CORK, but nothing very spectacular.
He always had problems staying down to weight for the Laser. “I am almost the right size for the Finn, maybe a little short, but putting on the weight was pretty easy. In the Laser I really struggled to stay down. I was on the heavy end of the spectrum and so it is a pleasure to be able to eat properly again. Also I like going to the gym, so it was good to be in the gym again instead of cycling and running all the time.”
But now the Rio dream is a real possibility. “Our trials are on a selection basis but there are certain criteria that they'd like us to meet. Because Canada has qualified in a lot of classes through the regional qualifiers, they are not going to be able to send all of them because in a lot of classes they are not competitive in the internationals fleets."
“So I just have to prove I am competitive in fleets like at the Europeans and Gold Cup. It's pretty much down to me and Martin now. We are staying together here and we get on well. We're competitive, but I am not so worried about beating him, but just focussing on getting good results at regattas. If he sails well that's great but I am just trying to beat as many boats as I can.”
His first major Finn event was the Sailing World Cup Miami. “I wasn't really putting together full races. I always seemed to be having comebacks and then on the last day it was shifty offshore and that's always appealed to me growing up sailing on lakes. I had a good last day moving up from maybe 20th to 13th, so it was nice way to finish the regatta on a good note. But my goal was really to make the medal race. I wasn't too far off but I wasn't going to make it on the last day even if I made two firsts.”
On his long term goals he said, “When I was in the Laser I was thinking about going until 2016. I was a little burnt out, but as soon as when I decided to switch to the Finn there was a decision for a five year commitment through to 2020. It would be a little ridiculous to just sail for a year and go to the Games, so I'd rather have a better goal of reaching the podium and a successful full campaign for 2020, but to go in 2016 would be awesome.”
He says he is loving Finn sailing more than he could have imagined, especially the physical side. “I love it. It's more physical. The more physical you are the faster you go and that really appeals to me. I wasn't sure whether I was going to like all the tuning and the different types of rig but it's a variation, but now I enjoy tweaking with it and am learning a lot.”
“I don't have much time and I don't have a big a budget as some people, so I am trying work with what I have got. I am looking to get a new boat soon as well as I am using a charter boat here. When I am going slow I try not to think about whether it's something in the rig, I try and make it go fast. But I have been pretty fast and I am have been happy with how it's been going.”
After three races, Ramshaw is lying 14th to Robitaille's 45th. But there is still a long way to go.