Ten medal haul for Team GBR
Golds for Bryony Shaw, Andrew Mills and the 49er pairing of Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign capped off a ten-medal haul for Britain’s sailors at the conclusion of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyères, the conclusion of ISAF's 2012-13 World Cup series.
An up and down breeze that never truly filled in at any point ensured for close knit racing on the final day in the south of France.
The heavyweight bout in the Finn was an inter-Team GBR affair. Despite starting the medal race with a six point deficit, Andrew Mills overcame Giles Scott to take gold and claim his first ever World Cup victory.
The 27-year-old Mills took the race win in the first medal race of the day to narrow the gap to just two points over Scott, with the pair assured of finishing no worse than second with the final race to go. Whichever sailor beat the other on the water would take the gold, and today it was Mills’s turn to celebrate. He crossed the line in third, with Scott coming home in in tenth to settle for silver.
“With the double medal race, if you’d had a bad first one then any of eight people could have still win gold so it was important to get the job done with a win in the first one,” Mills explained. “We both needed to get a result in to secure silver at least in the first race and then the last race was just a match race between the two of us. It was whoever did the best would win. We had a little match race and I got the better of him.”
Coming in third Mills was ahead of Scott who finished at the back of the pack.
“It feels great,” Mills said of his victory. “It’s really impressive how the winter training has paid off and it’s a great start to the rest of the season with a first ever World Cup win, so it’s brilliant. It’s a good way to start the cycle and show some intentions.”
Mills was also pleased to overcome his countryman: “Giles is hard to beat at any point so to beat him and put myself up there is great.”
New Zealand’s Josh Junior had a great week and sailed himself to the bronze knocking Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) out of the medals. Ed Wright and Mark Andrews were also in Finn medal race and ended their regattas in seventh and ninth respectively.
Team GBR also scored a 1-2 in the 49er, where, after a three-hour wait for suitable conditions for racing to commence, Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign also got the job done with a 2-1-3 score line today. Having come into the day with a joint lead Fletcher and Sign couldn’t have asked for much more in tricky conditions.They finished all three races inside the top three to overtake teammates Evans and Powys in the overall standings, and claim their first regatta victory.
David Evans and Ed Powys made it a British top two and the day nearly ended with a British trio on the podium, however Spain’s Carlos and Anton Paz spoiled the party, ousting Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes from the podium spots by just one point.
“It’s a huge confidence boost – for us our first World Cup win is wicked,” said Fletcher, who praised the British strength in the class this week: “It’s the best training environment you could have. We’ve worked closely with Dave and Ed recently and they were second so that was great to see, and Stevie just missed out just on the last race, but the Brits were definitely showing quite a strong force here in Hyeres.”
Sign added: “In Palma we were down a little bit, and we’ve come back fighting here, so we’re really chuffed with what we’ve achieved. Thanks to Paul and Ian, our coaches, for helping us through the week."
In the 49erFX, Fletcher’s partner Charlotte Dobson was not to be outdone in the medal stakes and claimed her first podium finish, along with crew Mary Rook, – a first British medal in the new women’s skiff for Rio.
Dobson and Rook went into the day in the silver medal position, and scores of 3,5,4 from the day was enough to keep them there, while Penny Clark and Sophie Ainsworth ended their regatta in seventh.
However the class act in the new women's skiff were Kiwis Alex Maloney and Molly Meech started today with an 18 point lead, but three double points scoring Medal Races could have brought dramatic changes.
Keeping out of trouble they posted a steady 5-4-5 to take their second ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta win of the 2012-13 season. “We’re happy that we’ve won our first World Cup event in Europe,” said Maloney, who won the inaugural 49erFX event at ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne. “It was quite stressful out there with it being so light and shifty and the lead changed all the time.”
There is room for optimism with the girls, however they know the road to Rio will take time, “It’s just beginning,” said Meech. “Most of the girls are quite new to the boat so there’s a long way to go and it’s going to keep getting harder.”
With Dobson and Rook taking silver, the Dutch team of Annemiek Bekkering and Claire Blom took the final podium spot.
The Netherlands had more success in the Laser Radial where Marit Bouwmeester christened her post-London 2012 return to the class with a well-deserved gold. Leading the first Medal Race from start to finish, Bouwmeester established a seven point lead over Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) and Alison Young (GBR), tied for silver.
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“I just had to focus on myself and sail a good race,” said the Dutch sailor. “When it is light and tricky it’s a bit easier because you can only focus on yourself and I won the first race and made it a bit easy. The other two girls started racing each other in the second race so it was easy for me,” she said with a smile. “I didn’t really have it as a goal to win a medal. I had a big break and came out here to see how it goes and it went a lot better than I expected.”
At the start of the final Laser Radial Medal Race Tenkanen found herself ahead of Young and made sure she kept her at bay, “I didn’t get a very good start on upwind but I climbed a bit on the first downwind and chose the better gate mark,” said Tenkanen. “I was before Alison and because Marit was so far in front I decided to ensure Alison stayed behind so the rest of the race I tried to cover her.”
Finishing in ninth and tenth place Tenkanen and Young could not be caught so Young, who won gold at ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma took bronze.
Tom Burton (AUS) put his ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma woes behind him in Hyères to claim a hard earned gold medal. Burton lost a commanding lead in Palma, but chipped away at Tonci Stipanovic’s (CRO) advantage to come from behind and take Laser gold. Stipanovic (CRO) fell to third whilst Robert Scheidt (BRA) tastes silver on his Laser return.
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“I was always coming from behind here whereas in Palma I was always in the front,” said Burton. “It doesn’t make up for it but it’s good to learn from my experience and improve on it this.”
Burton has been ranked World #1 in the Laser since December 2012 but doesn’t see himself as the guy to beat, “Everyone is so good if you don’t sail well it doesn’t matter what your ranking is you’re going to get chopped. It’s good to be World #1 and at the front as well.”
Daniel Mihelic (CRO) had a superb day on the water taking both race wins but being too far behind to take a medal he ended up fourth overall. After a desperate beginning to the week, Britain's Nick Thompson had a better final day with a 5-2 leaving him ninth.
Brazil’s Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Barbachan turned their overnight Women’s 470 lead into another ISAF Sailing World Cup gold medal making it three in a row after Miami and Palma wins. “It was so difficult today,” said Oliveira. “We didn’t do good races and our starts were so bad. We are happy with the result and it’s good to win again. We’re going to have some days of rest, relaxing at home and then we’ll start training again.”
Camille Lecointre and Mathilde Geron (FRA) took the silver medal and Great Britain’s Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre took their second consecutive World Cup podium spot in third, after starting the day in fourth.
Double bullets on the last day for Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) secured them their fourth gold medal together since teaming up. For Belcher his unbeaten Men’s 470 run, that stems from November 2011, continues, “To come into these events having won them last year and with a new partnership there’s high expectations,” said Belcher. “To come away with another win with today’s condition and finish off by winning both Medal Races was fantastic.”
Ryan added, “There’s been a full range of conditions and a lot of the top sailors have really come through. Everybody has had a few bad races along the way and I think every fleet saw really close racing so it’s been a really great event.”
Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion (FRA) maintained their spot in second place and London 2012 Olympic bronze medallists Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente (ARG) complete the top three.
British hopes Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield were unable to improve their standing in the 470 Men’s event. OCS in the first medal race of the day, they finished tenth in the second to end their second regatta together in ninth overall. Nick Rogers and Elliot Willis ended the regatta in 16th.
Anything was possible on the final day in the Nacra 17 as just five points dividing the top five. The fleet was delayed due to fickle breeze and testing conditions that were prevalent on the course. Once racing got underway it was Sweden’s Tim Shuwalow and Hanna Klinga (SWE) who prevailed. They ended up tied on 59-points with Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA) but based on the combined score of the Medal Races the Swedes took gold to win on count back. Swiss duo Matias Buhler and Nathalie Brugger completed the podium.
Team GBR's Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond missed out on a first British medal by the narrowest of margins – they finished fourth, just two points from the bronze medal, while teammates Lucy Macgregor and Tom Phipps ended their regatta in tenth.
In the RS:X Women, France's Charline Picon lost a substantial lead after she was OCS in the first Medal Race. This put Bryony Shaw (GBR) and Blanca Manchon (ESP) in the driving seat going into the second Medal Race making it a winner-takes-all. Shaw took the final race win to seal gold, while Manchon finished third to take silver leaving Picon bronze.
“I’m really happy!” said Shaw afterwards, ahead of her 30th birthday tomorrow. “I didn’t have the best of days yesterday on the last day of finals series, so was pretty fired up coming in to today. Two of my main rivals were over the line in the first race, so that was a big opportunity for me.
“I sailed really well, got good starts, and made some good decisions so it’s great that it all came together today when it mattered. I’ve had a great start to the year with silver at the World Championships and silver in Palma. I really wanted to keep that momentum going this week and come away with gold, so I’m really happy, and especially to have performed well across the range of conditions this week.”
In the RS:X Men it was Poland that scored a 1-2. Przemyslaw Miarczynski came back into the Men’s RS:X with a bang and notched up double bullets to claim gold, while Piotr Myszka came through in silver medal position leaving French veteran Julien Bontemps to complete the podium.
“It was pretty hard and I’ve not trained a lot in the light conditions,” said Miarczynski, London 2012 bronze medallist, “I didn’t expect to be so good in the light winds but preparing a lot in the winter time was helpful here.”
Poland boasts a strong RS:X contingent personified by them taking the top two spots in Hyères and Miarczynski is reaping the rewards, “This is very good because we train together and it’s really helpful. We also have Pawel Tarnowski and he’s also very good and we’re three competing against each other so it’s very nice.”
Helena Lucas and Megan Pascoe added the British medal tally on Friday with a silver and a bronze in the 2.4mR Paralympic class.
Of Team GBR's RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park commented: "It’s year one of the cycle, so it’s dangerous to draw too many conclusions at this stage, but we’ve had some great performances across the team this week. A first medal in the 49erFX is great for Charlotte and Mary but reflects well across everyone in the programme as those sailors are operating in a rotational system at the moment. Sophie and Eilidh should also be pleased that they’ve managed to get onto the podium in both of the regattas that they’ve sailed together.”
Results (top 3 in each class)
RS:X Women :
1 – Bryony Shaw (GBR): 21 pts
2 – Blanca Manchon (ESP): 24 pts
3 – Charline Picon (FRA) 42 pts
RS: X Men:
1- Przmyslaw Miarczynski (POL) : 20 pts
2- Piotr Myszka (POL) : 28 pts
3- Julien Bontemps (FRA) : 30 pts
1- Andrew Mills (GBR): 23 pts
2- Gilles Scott (GBR): 35 pts
3- Josh Junior (NZL): 49 pts
Laser Radial :
1 – Marit Bouwmeester (NED): 19 pts
2 – Tuula Tenkanen (FIN): 36 pts
3- Alison Young (GBR): 42 pts
Laser standard :
1-Tom Burton (AUS) : 54 pts
2- Robert Scheidt (BRA):63 pts
3- Stipanovic Tonci (CRO): 66 pts
1 – Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Barbachan (BRA) : 38 pts
2 – Camille Lecointre and Mathilde Géron (FRA) : 39 pts
3- Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh Mcintyre (GBR) : 50 pts
470 Men :
1- Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) : 19 pts
2- Sofian Bouvet and Jéremie Mion (FRA) : 51 pts
3- Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente (ARG) : 60 pts
1 – Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign (GBR) : 63 pts
2 – David Evans and Edward Powys (GBR) : 83 pts
3- Carlos Paz and Anton Paz (ESP) : 87 pts
1- Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL):46 pts
2- Charlotte Dobson and Mary Rook (GBR): 60 pts
3 – Annemiek Bekkering and Claire Blom (NED): 69 pts
1 – Tim Shuwalow and Hanna Klinga (SWE): 59 pts
2 – Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA) : 59 pts
3 – Matias Buhler and Nathalie Brugger (68 pts)