Five medal haul for Skandia Team GBR
The Perth International Regatta ended today with the final medal races held in light to moderate winds under a cloudy sky with occasional rain showers. The final medal races were sailed close in to the Fremantle shoreline, with spectators on the beaches and breakwaters getting a grandstand view of the starts and finishes. This will also be the case in next year’s ISAF Sailing World Championships in Perth.
Australian favourites Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen won the 49ers ahead of Skandia Team GBR's Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign with France's Emmanuel Dyen and Stephane Christidis third.
The 49er medal race, due to start at 9.00am, finally got underway late morning. With gold already assured to Australia’s Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, Fletcher and Sign had to protect their silver medal position, while also look to defend from a number of crews, including four of their own teammates, who were close on points behind them and pushing for the medal spots. Fletcher and Sign, who finished fifth at the 2010 World Championships, sailed a near perfect race, leading from start to finish to claim their first ever podium finish.
“We were a bit nervous I think going into the medal race,” Fletcher explained. “We had a lot to lose [today]and we couldn’t overtake Nathan in front, but we just went through our processes and it all paid off.”
With five British 49ers in the top ten at the 2010 World Championships, the battle is on for qualification to the one GBR berth in the class for 2012, with Sign seeing their podium finish in Perth as an indication of things to come.
“We’re pretty chuffed at putting the other Brits back in their places!” Sign explained. “Hopefully we can continue our performance right the way through next year. “It’s a big confidence boost. We still need to be training hard throughout the winter just to keep upping our game and then hopefully catch Nathan by Sail for Gold and then be top Brit there as well!”
Skandia Team GBR’s John Pink-Rick Peacock finished in fifth overall, with Chris Draper-Peter Greenhalgh seventh, Dave Evans-Ed Powys ninth and Stevie Morrison-Ben Rhodes tenth.
The 470 men’s and women’s fleets saw an early departure from the dock on Sunday morning, as with only three fleet races sailed they needed one more in order to make a medal race possible. They managed just that, with Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell winning the men’s fleet race and Nic Asher and Elliott Willis second to see the Skandia Team GBR crews in overall first and third going into the medal race.
Patience and Bithell were unable to hold on to their lead in the fickle medal race breeze, finishing tenth in the 10-boat finale. But it was still enough to hand them bronze, while Asher and Willis sailed consistently to push them into the silver medal spot behind Israeli veteran Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela. Kliger said that he and Sela were hoping to stay in Fremantle for another two or three weeks to get in some extra training in the local conditions ahead of next year’s ISAF Sailing World Championships.
Willis was pleased with their podium finish after a difficult week of racing conditions and was happy that they’ve learned lots about the venue ahead of next year’s World Championships. “Primarily we’re here for as a training exercise for next year," he said. "We did two weeks of training before the regatta so we’re quite happy we’ve sailed in the conditions that you normally would see here. We’ve learnt a lot about our kit and the wave conditions and things like that so we’re looking forward to it.”
Sweden won the Women’s 470 with Lisa Ericson and Astrid Gabrielsson, finishing ahead of France's Ingrid Petitjean and Nadeje Douroux and Denmark’s Henriette Koch and Lane Sommer. Skandia Team GBR's Penny Clark-Katrina Hughes and Sarah Ayton-Saskia Clark finished fifth and eighth respectively.
Sailing back to the boat park, winning Swedish skipper Lisa Ericson said “it was absolutely fabulous to win and we are so happy to be able to come back next year.”
The RS:X windsurfer sailors got in only one of their two scheduled medal races today. The Open medal race was sailed resulting in gold for Marina Alabau from Spain. Australia's Jessica Crisp finished second with Marina Rambaud of France third. Bryony Shaw was unable to fight her way into the podium spots and finished fifth overall.
The medal race for the Men’s windsurfer event was abandoned, which left Dorian van Rijsselberge (now sans-mohican) from The Netherlands with the gold medal, followed by Richardo Santos of Brazil and Jon-Paul Tobin of New Zealand. This left Britain's Nick Dempsey unable to improve on his fifth place.
“We’ve had a great time here in Fremantle,” surmised RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park. “The conditions have been very difficult, particularly for the race management in terms of racing and just in terms of getting experience in the conditions that we’re expecting for here for December next year.
“We did have some of that in the training period in the couple of weeks running up to the racing and so we’re going to go home happy that we’ve learned lots about Fremantle and have prepared well in terms of the World Championships in 2011.
Park continued: “Different sailors have been practicing and preparing differently for this event. We’ve had some focussing on their heavy weather performance so that’s not really gone to plan in this regatta, but certainly has in the training period.
“For others, they’ve been looking at the racing and doing everything they can to win. It’s been great to see some new talent coming through – Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign winning their first medal so that’s great performance by them and that’s going to give them great confidence going in to next year.”
Full results here