By James Crook

PatienceBithell200113January 20 - World Championship and Olympic silver medallist Stuart Bithell has announced that he will team up with Chris Grube as the British pair look to win gold at Rio 2016. 

Bithell, 26, was partnered by Luke Patience on his way to a silver medal at London 2012 and two World Championship silver medals in the 470 class, but the pair went their separate ways at the end of last year over fears that their combined weight would be too much to compete in the light winds expected in Rio.

Bithell has accordingly decided to make the step up from the 470 class to high-performance 49er skiff in a bid to go one better than his silver medal in Rio.

The 27-year-old Grube, another former 470-class sailor, previously competed with Nick Rogers.

They missed out on a place at London 2012 as Britain only had one qualifying spot and that went to Bithell and Patience.

"Chris is a great crew and I know that he fully shares my dreams of gold in Rio so we'll both be putting in the hard yards to try and make that happen." said Bithell.

"It's a very exciting new challenge for us both,

"For me it's a change of boat and a change of position on the boat from crew to helm, so there's lots to learn but we've been having a great time so far and I think we have so much potential as a team."

Bithell 4645Chris Grube (left) will partner London 2012 silver medallist Stuart Bithell (right) at Rio 2016 in the 49er skiff class

Grube also expressed his delight at working with his new team-mate, and emphasised his key ambition - to go for gold in Rio.

"The opportunity to sail with Stuart, and in such an exciting class, was one I jumped at." he said

"We've had some great training over the past few months, both in the UK and in Murcia, and with a lot of Skandia Team GBR talent in the 49er we know we're going to be pushed hard, which is great motivation.

"I've had the opportunity to sail with three silver medallists now - Luke, Nick and now Stuart - so I have a lot of experience of my own of Olympic campaigning which will hopefully complement Stuart's skills and make us a dream team for Rio."

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January 2012: Sailors Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell join Team GB at London 2012