49ers and RS:Xes head for Sopot
Olympic windsurfing bronze medallist Bryony Shaw and a strong British 49er squad will be vying for honours at the RS:X and 49er European Championships, which both kick off in Sopot, Poland, this weekend.
Skandia Team GBR saw medal success at the 2009 editions of both events, with Shaw capturing bronze at the RS:X Europeans in Israel, and the reunited duo of Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith clinching 49er silver in Croatia at the first event of their re-formed partnership.
For both classes, these European Championships mark the last opportunity to fine-tune their racing skills before the all-important Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta next month – the final leg of the ISAF Sailing World Cup series, held on the 2012 waters of Weymouth and Portland.
After a disappointing end to the recent World Cup event in Kiel, which ended her run of podium spots from the European legs of the series, Shaw will be keen to bounce back when racing starts in Sopot on Saturday (3 July) and has maintained a relaxed approach ahead of the event.
“The build up to our Europeans has been pretty chilled out, as we’ve been doing so much intensive training in Weymouth and the recent racing at the World Cup in Kiel,” she explained.
“We are in fantastic position that we have never been in before, which is 100% happy with our equipment for each of the upcoming summer events.”
Shaw will be joined by teammates Beth Williamson and Sophie Bailey in the women’s RS:X fleet, while Richard Hamilton, Elliot Carney and Ali Masters will fly the flag for Skandia Team GBR in the men’s event.
Current World Champion Nick Dempsey, recovering from a recent back injury, has not made the trip to Poland.
There’s a full cast of Skandia Team GBR 49er crews in Sopot ahead of the start of their Europeans quest, with the first race scheduled for Monday (5 July).
Brotherton and Asquith are joined by fellow performance crews John Pink-Rick Peacock – gold medallists at the recent Kiel World Cup event – Chris Draper-Peter Greenhalgh, Stevie Morrison-Ben Rhodes and Dylan Fletcher-Alain Sign, with four other development squad crews also looking to make their mark.
For the reigning silver medallists at least, the Europeans will provide a vital final testing ground ahead of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta.
“It’s going to be a relatively short trip for Mark and I to Poland, as we’ve really been focusing on maximising the benefits of training from Weymouth,” Brotherton explained.
“But we’ve brought our new boat to the Europeans, so it’ll be a great opportunity this week to assess her, and then we’ll choose between the new boat and the one we won the Hyeres regatta in as the boat we’ll race in at Sail for Gold.”
Racing at the RS:X European Championships starts on Saturday 3 July, with the final medal races on Friday 9 July, while racing at the 49er Europeans starts on Monday 5 July and concludes with the medal race on Saturday 10 July.