Dinghy racer John Pink knows the next few months will make or break his chances of representing Britain at the Olympics in 2012.
The Portsmouth-born sailor is among several members of the Skandia Team GBR squad vying to fill one of the few places remaining in the team.
Pink has been sailing the hi-tech 49er dinghy with crew Rick Peacock for the past four years and is clear that the waters of Weymouth and the Olympic Games are his only goal.
But it is his misfortune that Britain has strong representation in the class and he faces tough competition to get there.
While several of the squad for next year have already been announced, the 49er contingent will be asked to slug it out until a clear contender emerges.
‘The Olympics is the ultimate goal, it always has been,’ said the 28-year-old, who grew up in Hill Head and is a long standing member of the local sailing club.
‘We’ve put a lot work in to get there, not all of it in the right direction, but we are learning from our mistakes and getting better.’
Pink and Peacock made the best possible start to the year with a gold medal in Miami – with other Team GBR sailors taking up the rest of the podium – but struggled to find consistency thereafter, only finishing fifth in the Sail For Gold regatta.
‘Miami was great for us but after that a few things didn’t go our way,’ said Pink
‘The Sail For Gold regatta saw us sailing really well for almost all the week but we couldn’t keep it together right to the end.’
But a new coach in the shape of the well-respected Paul Brotherton has made a big impact in the two months he’s been on hand.
‘It all needed a bit of a shake-up – we’d got used to doing things in the same way and it wasn’t always working for us, so we’ve taken it apart and looked at it again,’ added Pink, speaking while training down at the Olympic venue in Weymouth.
The difference the changes have made for Pink was apparent last weekend when the culmination of a season of domestic Olympic classes racing saw him win three races to take the series crown, a title he also won last year.
Now the big test lies ahead – the 49er World Championships in Perth in early December.
A strong performance in Australia would be a huge step towards securing that Olympic slot but might not be quite enough by itself and the process could roll on through a series of regattas to the 2012 Worlds in Croatia in May or even beyond.
‘The selectors will leave it as long as they think they need to,’ said Pink.
‘They are looking for someone to be consistently good and while everyone has had their moments they’ve also been up and down.’
Reaching the Olympics would be the culmination of years of effort – but next stop Perth is where the battle for supremacy resumes.