Medals decided on final day of racing at WPNSA
The Sail for Gold Regatta provided a fast and furious finale in Weymouth and Portland as the third leg of the 2014 EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup series came to a close (Friday 6 June).
A range of conditions were thrown at the sailors across the five days of racing and on the final day an easterly 20-25 knots with gusts reaching 30 knots made for an exciting final day of racing.
After clinching a clean sweep of race wins on the penultimate day of the regatta, Lucy Macgregor and Andy Walsh did enough in today’s medal race decider to claim event honours by a single point.
Helm Macgregor said: “We are really pleased with our week here at Sail for Gold, we have sailed really well all week but today we are really frustrated as we actually sailed quite badly. However we did enough to win overall and at the end of the day that is all we needed to do, but you’re always going to be a little bit gutted when you could have done better.”
Coming off the start line in last position, the British Sailing Team duo were able to claw their way back up to fifth, which was enough to hold onto their overnight lead ahead of today’s medal race winners Pippa Wilson and John Gimson who rounded their event off in second.
Walsh added: “We discussed before the start what might be the winning strategy and went for it but then had a bad start because of it, maybe it was too high risk with the strong breeze and conditions we had but then it was just a case of sailing well down the course and do what we needed to stay first overall.
“It’s brilliant to win our first gold medal together, it will be great for our confidence especially as we are still quite a new team in the Nacra 17 so it’s nice to start getting onto the podium. We came really close in Hyeres and Holland, where a few little things went wrong, so it’s great to finally get a medal and for it to be gold is fantastic which we hope can continue into the next event and so on.”
Heading into today’s two fleet races in the 2.4mR event, Paralympic champion Helena Lucas harboured a one point lead over fellow Brit Megan Pascoe.
But in the strong easterly breeze it was Pascoe who came out all guns blazing to take a clean sweep of race wins and the 2014 Sail for Gold title.
On her victory, Pascoe said: “It has been a long hard week with really short, intense racing with three of us battling it out at the top of the fleet – so you never really knew if you were going to be first or third but it’s a great way to round everything off with two bullets.”
Extending her podium run to five events this year, of which she has now won three, Pascoe is pleased with her current form: “I have had a really good year so far with a number of podium positions so I’m happy with how things are going.”
A third and second from today left Lucas in the silver medal position, while Australia’s Matt Bugg rounded his regatta off in third.
The Sonar class was this week dominated by London 2012 Paralympians John Robertson-Hannah Stodel-Steve Thomas. The British Sailing Team trio added nothing but race wins to their scorecard this week to clinch their fourth consecutive Sail for Gold crown.
“It has been a fantastic week of racing and obviously it’s nice to come away with the chocolates. I think we have proved to the rest of the British teams that we are the ones to watch and hopefully that will put us in good stead for the Worlds this year and further on towards Rio 2016,” expressed Stodel.
“It’s fantastic for us as a team to win our fourth straight concessive Sail for Gold title here in Weymouth and Portland. Credit must go to the Race Management teams - they have been fantastic all week – we had had some spectacular racing with no faffing around in-between which we love and to get four races a day is impressive especially in a Paralympic fleet.”
Bryony Shaw gave a masterclass in windsurfing this week as the world number two concluded her regatta with an unblemished scorecard. The Beijing Olympic bronze medallist was in scintillating form from the outset, finishing 18 points ahead of Spain’s Blanca Manchon in second and Izzy Hamilton in third.
“I am really pleased to win Sail for Gold again this year, it’s been good quality racing and it has been great to have Blanca Manchon from Spain over who has been my main rival all week.
“I have never won every race at a regatta before and it’s great to do that here in Weymouth and Portland. We have had a lot of time on these waters, training hard and as it’s a unique place I think that is one of the reasons why I have been going so well.”
Shaw concluded: “WPNSA is a fantastic venue for the sailing – the Olympic Games proved that – and the facilities here are still second to none so for any visiting teams it is a great place to come and train, and get settled before starting competition. Hopefully the Sail for Gold Regatta will continue to grow, deliver and be bigger and better next year.”
RS:X Windsurfing World Champion Nick Dempsey has ruled the 9.5 fleet throughout the week. The Olympic silver medallist posted ten race wins form the 13 races completed, and finished today’s medal race in second behind Connor Bainbridge to claim his first gold medal since the same regatta in 2013.
“It’s been a week where it started off really tough in the light winds and then as the week has gone on the wind has got stronger, with today being a really nice windy medal race. It has been brilliant racing from the start all the way through, it certainly looks a lot easier when you look at the results than it actually was, but it’s great for myself and our GBR training group.”
After missing out on the podium at the two ISAF Sailing World Cup events in Hyeres and Palma, Dempsey admits that his performance this week has given him a timely boost as he heads into key regattas this summer.
“I’m really pleased with how I have been sailing recently, I got a bit of a kick-in in Palma and Hyeres earlier on in the year – it was expected but the last couple of months’ training have gone really well with everything starting to come tougher again and I’m starting to feel pretty good. I felt great this week and I now can’t wait to get out to Rio.”
Dave Evans and Ed Powys took a healthy 12 point lead into the final day of 49er racing, and despite suffering a snapped spreader in the second race of the day which therefore forced them to retire for the final two races, the pair were still crowned champions after Stevie Morrison and Chris Grube were unable to capitalise in medal race three.
“It was a bit on the edge at the end as we weren’t quite sure if we had managed to win as we weren’t able to compete in the final two races, so I think it was pretty close on points but luckily we just managed to sneak it,” confessed Powys.
“It was great conditions out there today, flat water with 20-25 knots which is what 49er racing is all about! It was a bit of shame to get to the top mark in a good position in the second race and then be made to have a little swim and come in early. But we managed to win the first race of the day which turned out to be just enough.”
A 6-2-8 wasn’t enough for Stevie Morrison and Chris Grube to take advantage as the pair finished in second place. A race win in the final medal race was enough to clinch John Pink and Stuart Bithell the third step of the podium from Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign who finished in fourth on countback.
The 49erFX class was the last to complete their three theatre style medal races today, with Dutch competitors Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz showing their boat-handling skills in the lively women’s skiff racing to post 3-5-3 for their efforts and claim event honours.
Having posted top five finishes across the 17 races completed, the pair finished 16 points in front of British sailors Kate Macgregor and Katrina Best in second, while Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth concluded their regatta in third.
Finn & 470
Having clinched the Finn and 470 titles on the penultimate day of racing, Giles Scott and Luke Patience and Elliot Willis made sure of their Sail for Gold crowns in the spectacular conditions with medal race wins in their respective fleets.
Andrew Mills, competing in his last competitive regatta for the British Sailing Team after announcing his retirement, sealed Finn silver with Mark Andrews taking bronze, whilst Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre took the women’s 470 crown.
The Sail for Gold Regatta, organised by the RYA and the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, is part of the four-stage 2014 EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup series.
For the full list of results and further information on the Sail for Gold Regatta 2014 please visit the event website www.sailforgold.co.uk, like the event Facebook page or follow @sailforgold on Twitter.
Article Author RYA 6/6/2014 17:32
Photo © Paul Wyeth/RYA