"We had a bad first day and that put us in a position where we had to make good at the rest of the regatta," explained Styles today to madfor sailing , as he and crew Adam May were on the long and tedious drive back through Europe. The bad start he referred to was 20,19,20 in the opening three races that put their backs against the wall in 21st place.
Day two was more up their usual street as they were fifth and sixth in the 67-boat fleet. They added an eighth and sixth to their scoreline on the penultimate day, but the worst was yet to come.
The race committee judged them OCS in the final race and therefore they were awarded maximum points. Even with a discard, it meant they had to count one of their opening day big scores. Eighth place overall could have been considerably worse, but is a far cry from the prosperous medal positions they achieved last year.
"Ultimately we were pleased to come back and finish in the top ten after such a bad start to the regatta, but it didn't quite go to plan," admitted Styles, who won the Silver medal at this event last year.
But neither Styles, nor May, are men to be knocked down. "There were plenty of learning points," continued Hugh in an upbeat mood. "We need to do more racing practice. We did two regattas in the warm up to the Europeans and that was okay, but there were other teams that had been training against international competition over the winter, and had done more regattas.
"I think it would have been better to have done something similar and got a better gauge of how everyone else in Europe was getting on, rather than secluding ourselves. The overall standard of the fleet has moved up a level and many of the sailors here have said it has been one of the hardest Tornado regattas so far. The fleet is very tight and therefore you really need to fight to stay in the top ten."
Young guns Leigh McMillan and crew Mark Buckley laid their cards on the table in Vilamoura and proved they want a slice of the glory cake in the future. While their teammates languished on the first day, McMillan was putting up a spirited fight and was up to fourth place after three races.
Unfortunately while Styles and May improved, McMillan and Buckley slid downhill as the event unfolded. A black flag disqualification on the last day ended any chance of a top ten result, but could their early charge be a sign of better things to come?
While Lottery funding is always at stake, two years out from the Olympic Games there is little for the British team to lose sleep over, at the moment.
At the head of the fleet, Olivier Backes and Laurent Voiron of France added the European gold medal to the Hyeres title won last month, with double Olympic medallist Mitch Booth and Herbert Dercksen (Netherlands) taking the silver medal. Dutch team mates Sven Karsenbarg and Mischa Heemskerk completed the top three.
The event was also sailed as an open championship (non-Europeans). Argentinean pair Santiago Lange and Carlos Espinola won the overall series, but were of course not eligible for the European title.
Overall results after nine races with one discard:
|Place||Helm||Crew||Nation||race 1||race 2||race 3||race 4||race 5||race 6||race 7||race 8||race 9||Points|
|1||Olivier Backes||Laurent Voiron||France||1||4||||3||4||2||3||4||2||23pts|
|2||Mitch Booth||Herbert Dercksen||Netherlands||2||5||4||[BFD]||1||1||4||5||16||38pts|
|3||Sven Karsenbarg||Mischa Heemskerg||Netherlands||19||1||17||1||2||3||2||[BFD]||19||64pts|
|Place||Helm||Crew||race 1||race 2||race 3||race 4||race 5||race 6||race 7||race 8||race 9||Points|
|8||Hugh Styles||Adam May||10||19||20||4||5||8||6||8||[OCS]||90pts|
|10||Rob Wilson||Will Howden||16||3||16||||9||17||18||11||8||98pts|
|19||Leigh McMillan||Mark Buckley||5||9||5||13||[DNF]||13||12||BFD||26||138pts|
|20||Steve Lovegrove||Martin Sellars||13||||12||21||19||20||16||20||21||142pts|
|31||Matthew Eeles||Marcus Lynch||24||24||26||25||28||25||27||34||[OCS]||224pts|