SAIL FOR GOLD: Duo's delight at Olympic field
THERE are many big home names competing in the final major sailing event ahead of London 2012 - the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta - but some of the lesser-known Brits are just as keen to make an impact in Weymouth.
They may not be going to this year's Olympics, but 49er class duo James McIntosh and Brendan Jenner are among many of the more inexperienced sailors battling tricky conditions on the south coast.
Theirs is a Team GB class that has caused some controversy, not that it has been anything to do with them.
Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes have been selected as the home representative in the 49er, ahead of the likes of John Pink and Rick Peacock, who claimed they believed Sail for Gold would count as a selection event, and Dave Evans and Ed Powys who are the top-ranked Brits in the world rankings.
Indeed, Morrison and Rhodes trail Evans and Powys, who lead the regatta after two days, by six places. Another British duo, Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign are also ahead of the former, in fourth.
But for Essex-born McIntosh and Jenner, from Moretonhampstead in Dartmoor, just competing with such talented sailors is reward enough, for now.
"It was good fun to be racing people that are going to the Olympics," said 28-year-old McIntosh.
"It is like a mini-Olympics here. It is like the Olympics plus about five people like us who have a job and do it at the weekend, so it is good, and quite exciting."
Jenner, 26, added: "It was pretty amazing sailing, you don't all that often get to go and sail in a big swell like that in the 49er, so it was pretty exciting."
As both work full-time, a week of competing at an Olympic venue is extremely valuable to the duo. Jenner admits it would be entirely unrealistic to say they could one day compete at a Games, even if he allows himself to dream about Rio in four years' time.
But he is certain enough that they must improve on their showing so far this week. After six races, McIntosh and Jenner are ranked 36th with a best finish of 13th so far.
"We could do slightly better," admits Jenner, a carpenter by trade. "We got good speed in certain positions and we've just got to keep free from making mistakes.
"We were hoping to do a bit better, especially in the breeze because we quite like that.
"Yesterday, in one race, we had a blistering first beat and we were marked second, feeling pretty good but had a basic boat handling error on my behalf.
"We lost a few places and just at the time we were getting ourselves back on our feet we had a bit of gear breakage and that was our race over."
Investment specialist Skandia is the principal sponsor of the British sailing team. For more information go towww.skandiateamgbr.com.