Windsurfer Tobin set for sail of the century

LONG JOURNEY: After 16 years, JP Tobin will finally get his shot at Olympic glory.
LONG JOURNEY: After 16 years, JP Tobin will finally get his shot at Olympic glory.

Finally, after 16 years, it is New Zealand windsurfer JP Tobin's time to enjoy the spotlight on the Olympic stage.

Having lived in the shadow of Aaron McIntosh, who is now his coach, and then Tom Ashley, the former world No 1 is appearing at his first Olympics at the age of 35.

The one-sailor-per-nation rule at the Olympics has robbed the Aucklander of what could have been up to four appearances, but after edging 2008 Olympic champion Tom Ashley in their qualification duel last year, he finally gets the shot he deserves.

He took a break after finishing third at the RS:X world championships in Barcelona in March, before moving to the regatta host city Weymouth, on the Dorset coast, in mid-May to start his Games preparations.

'I'm incredibly lucky. This campaign has come together extremely well, both with the guys I've been training with and the support I've received from everybody,' Tobin told Sunday News.

'It's all clicking, I'm just really excited to get into it.'

Tobin is one of the leading contenders in the men's RS:X, which starts on Tuesday night (NZ time), alongside his training partner and good friend Dorian van Rijsselberghe of the Netherlands, who is arguably the gold medal favourite.

The regatta starts tonight with initial races in the Finn, Star and Elliott 6m (women's match racing).

Of the nine Kiwi crews, women's 470 crew Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke in the 49er, and experienced Laser sailor Andrew Murdoch are likely to be the best medal hopes.

Yachting New Zealand boss David Abercrombie is not prepared to declare a target number, declining to place any more pressure on the athlets than already exists.

But there will be public expectation - the yachting body received $11.3 million from High Performance Sport New Zealand in this Olympic cycle, third only to rowing ($19.2m) and cycling ($18.3m).

Fairfax Media