All change

Stronger winds saw different faces leading at Skandia Sail for Gold regatta

Thursday September 18th 2008, Author: Gail Willows, Location: United Kingdom
Today,Thursday, at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta 300 International sailors were relishing the perfect sailing conditions found here in Weymouth and Portland; demonstrating why it has been selected as the sailing venue for the 2012 Olympics.

“It is great to see that the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta has been blessed with some fantastic sailing, and this has been a tremendous International regatta. The location here in Weymouth and Portland for sailing is one of the best in the World, with flat water within Portland Harbour to the challenging waves found out in Weymouth Bay,” explained John Derbyshire, RYA Racing Manager / Performance Director.

The sailing was fiercely competitive today in all of the classes with some interesting shifts in the rankings. The wind provided fantastic sailing in the morning with stronger wind conditions. Later in the day the wind dropped to a light southerly breeze for the afternoon, testing the sailor’s ability in the lighter winds.

It was all change at the top of the 49er fleet with the Skandia Team GBR pairing of John Pink and Rick Peacock taking the lead after a second, third and eighth today. The new British pairing of 22 year old Dave Evans and Double Olympic medallist Simon Hiscocks climbed three places in on the leader board to finish the day in third place overall after finishing third, first and sixth in the day’s three races. Team GBR’s Beijing Olympic representatives Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes had a bad start to the day with an unlucky 13th in the first race, they then went on to finish second in the next and win the last race of the day and now lie second overall.

In the Laser class, London 2012 hopeful Laser sailor Nick Thompson had another flawless day, winning both the day’s races and stamping his authority on the next Olympic venue. The Laser Radial class was again dominated by China’s Olympic sailing hero Lijia Xu, in an almost flawless performance she has now finished in the top three in all but one of the weeks races. Laser Radial world Bronze medallist Andrea Brewster kept a hold on second place despite a mixed day on the water finishing in 15th and second she is closely followed by fellow Skandia Team GBR performance squad sailor Charlotte Dobson who lies in third after a second and eighth in today’s racing.

In the RS:X 9.5 windsurfing class, French sailor Henry Quentin was able to take advantage of the conditions finishing both races of the day in fourth place and ending the day in third overall jumping one place up in the leader board. Israel’s Olympic bronze medallist Shahar Zubari and GBR Olympic representative Nick Dempsey who finished once place behind Zubari in Beijing, continued their close rivalry exchanging first and second place results in both races of the day Dempsey who recently finished fourth at the Olympics said: “The racing was really close out their today and tough, it’s hard to feel disappointed after winning one race and coming second in the other, however Sahar is racing really well and he managed to get the same results, I think it’s going to be tight right up to the end”

Ali Master took all the plaudits in the R S:X 8.5 class, the 16 year old RYA Youth squad member won both races of the day. Overnight leader Blanca Manchon kept her lead despite getting off to a bad start with an OCS in the first race, she hit top form in the next race with a second place and now leads by two points. Weymouth’s Olympic Bronze medallist Bryony Shaw stayed in third place with fourth and third finishes.

The 470 fleet had a Spanish feel today with both the men’s and women’s fleets finishing with Spanish sailors on top of the leader board. Santander based sailors Pablo Santurde Del Arco and Abelardo Quevedo Torices finished second in the first race of the day and 12th in the second (which they were able to discard) leaving them three points ahead of yesterdays leaders Nic Asher and Elliot Willis. In the women’s 470s the positions stay the same with Berta Betanzos and Tara Pacheco (ESP) again topping the leader board closely followed by the RYA Development squad members Hannah Mills and Katrina Hughes, both 20 years old, Sweden’s Lisa Ericsion and Astrid Gabrielsson complete the top three.

Southampton based 21 year-old Finn sailor, Giles Scott (GBR), has extended his fantastic lead over Ed Wright (GBR), nine points ahead at the end of day three.

The youth and development sailors from different countries are here competing against some of the best sailors in the world including Olympic competitors; which is an excellent platform for their development towards 2012 and subsequent Olympics. The Youth Sailing Coaches understand the importance of events like the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta for the development of their young sailors careers. Dom Tidey, RS:X Windsurfing National Youth Coach and coach to Skandia Team GBR’s Bryony Shaw, said: “An event like this is a good opportunity to introduce young sailors to the international fleet of top racers. Experience like this is the key: doing as many international regattas as they can builds confidence and highlights areas of weakness that they have; as well as demonstrating what level they have to reach.”

Many of the young sailors find competing against Olympic athletes very inspiring, including the 49er sailors Craig Paul, 20, and brother John Paul, from Fort William, Scotland. “It’s great to be competing against the Olympians, there are some great guys out there and we are absolutely loving it. We finished second last at this event last year and that’s the position we’re in this year, but if we’re not last then we’re happy. It’s great to be sailing with guys who have just come off the podium. We’ve both got work and university commitments so it’s not easy to compete and this is our biggest competition really so to see the likes of Stevie and Ben about is great.”

Paul Goodison, Beijing Olympic Gold medallist and Skandia Team GBR Laser sailor, is passionate about helping young sailors develop their careers, and provide encouragement. “We’ve got really good, strong young sailors and the slightly older guys are up there with the best in the world. If we were allowed to enter more than one boat at the Olympics, I’m sure we would win a few more medals because they are that good. The competitors at this event are really high quality sailors and it is a good test for those lads.”

The Royal Yachting Association aims are to develop the event further to become a leading event within the world sailing series, with cutting edge technology. At this year’s Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta they are using the event to trial new technology including the race tracking. Next year the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta will become part of the ISAF World Cup series, and is expecting in excess of 600 entrants from around the World.

Results, here .

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