470 and Finn titles decided with a day to spare
The fourth day of racing at the Sail for Gold Regatta in Weymouth and Portland brought perfect sailing conditions from the outset, with Great Britain’s Finn sailor Giles Scott and 470 sailors Luke Patience and Elliot Willis clinching event honours on the penultimate day of the regatta.
The eight Olympic and two Paralympic classes, at this third leg of the EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup series, enjoyed superb sunshine and a southwesterly 12-16 knots as the full complement of races was completed on the two course areas used in Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour.
The British Sailing Team’s Giles Scott sealed the deal in the heavyweight Finn class with another impressive display of racing. Scott, who similarly bagged the Finn European Championship title with a day to spare in La Rochelle, France, last month, has dominated these championships with ten race wins from his fourteen races so far.
Scott will still sail in Friday’s medal race, but takes an unassailable 13 point led into the finale, despite retiring from today’s third and final race.
“It’s good to win Sail for Gold for sure, to win any regatta is always a great achievement,” expressed the 26-year old.
“It’s been good to get out there on home water and do some good quality racing, we had some fantastic conditions out there today in the Bay.”
Maintaining his unbeaten regatta run since returning to full-time Olympic Classes sailing in September, Portland-based Scott admits there is still work to be done between now and the World Championships this summer.
“I’m always trying to improve and get better and I still feel there are things I need to do to get better. So far I have managed to win the regattas but there has certainly been some close calls in there so it’s by no means a time to rest up that’s for sure.”
The battle for silver and bronze will be tight on the final day with one point dividing Andrew Mills and Mark Andrews, who took the Race 14 victory.
Another dominant display across today’s three races by Luke Patience and Elliott Willis has handed them their second consecutive EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup medal, this time upgrading their Delta Lloyd silver to gold at this week’s regatta.
The pair clinched the top spot on the podium with a clean sweep of race wins, and enter the final medal race with a 23 point cushion over Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre in second. Anna Burnett and Flora Stewart, bronze medallists at the Delta Lloyd event, are third.
“It was important today to keep our concentration and try to sail the boat as accurately as we can throughout all the races this week. I am pleased with how we are sailing, we have been starting well, the boat felt absolutely gorgeous today up wind and we were in a nice groove,” said 470 helm Patience.
“Weymouth has delivered some nice conditions this week with the sunshine and some good breeze which are the exciting kind of conditions which we love in our sport.”
This week’s Sail for Gold victory is the first of the pairs blossoming partnership, with Patience confirming the 470 duo are in a good place ahead of a busy summer of key international regattas.
“Even though it’s been a domestic competition this week in our fleet, it’s always nice to win and dominate but really it’s all about building our skillsets for when we get put into an international fleet with the intention of delivering at the World Championships.
“Me and Elliot have definitely hit the ground running since teaming up, we have known each other for years and when we got in the boat together it just felt right and there has been nothing standing out which has felt unusual or that needs work on. Of course we need to work on always getting better but the partnership has been slick from the start and we are in a good place!”
Lucy Macgregor and Andy Walsh made the most of the perfect sailing conditions with the perfect scoreline in today’s three races. The pair will head in to tomorrow’s final medal race with a nine point cushion.
Macgregor was happy with their performance on the penultimate day of racing: “It was great to get three bullets today and a perfect end to the fleet racing before we head in to the medal racing tomorrow.
“It was gorgeous conditions out there in the Bay, still quite shifty so the racing wasn’t easy, and it was never over until it was over but we really enjoyed ourselves. We seemed to have really good speed which is great and it definitely got us out of a sticky situation in the final race, but I think we are also sailing pretty smart and ultimately that was enough to win the day.”
With the pair missing out on a podium finish at the second leg of this EUROSAF series in Medemblik after suffering a mast breakage, Macgregor only has one thing on her mind as they enter the final day of racing.
“Our aim tomorrow is to win the medal race and to win the event, that has always been plan. Walshy and I have had a couple of good events recently but we haven’t quite got the final result as something has always gone a bit wrong so it has been nice to be really consistent at this event. We will hope to round it all off tomorrows and win our first event together since teaming up.”
Pippa Wilson and John Gimson are second, while Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond sit six points behind in third.
Dave Evans and Ed Powys put daylight in between themselves and the chasing 49er pack in today’s four races.
A consistent 3-1-2-3 handed the British sailors a 15 point lead going into Friday’s three medal race deciders and another impressive performance will hand them their first podium finish of 2014.
Stevie Morrison and Chris Grube had their best day of the regatta so far with two race wins and two thirds to move them into second position overall, whilst Nic Asher and Fynn Sterritt slip to third.
“We had some great racing with the sun shining and a perfect 15-16 knots,” enthused the two-time Olympian Morrison, who teamed up with Chris Grube at the back end of 2013.
“Weymouth is a great place to sail and for us we have got to make the most of our time out on the water. It’s all about learning and improving for us as a team at the moment rather than the results but clearly every time you race you want to do well.”
With the breeze expected to build to 20-25 knots for Friday’s finale, Morrison is looking forward to another great day of EUROSAF racing in Weymouth and Portland.
“We will take whatever comes our way really, it’s all good training for us and a valuable experience. We seem to be fast whatever the wind is, but a bit of breeze will be good for us as we have done a lot in the light stuff and not too much in the windy conditions.”
Paralympic champion Helena Lucas remains in control in the 2.4mR but as always faces stiff competition from Megan Pascoe who won two races today, but was disqualified from today’s opening race after falling the wrong side of a protest decision.
Two points off the top spot with two races still to go, Pascoe said: “I am looking forward to tomorrow, it has been tight racing all the way through the regatta and I’m pleased to be showing promising signs as we head into the Worlds. I seem to like the breeze at the moment, if you look at my past results in the breeze I seem to have done alright, so more breeze tomorrow should suit me nicely and hopefully I can finish the day on top of the podium.”
John Robertson-Hannah Stodel-Steve Thomas continue their dominance in the three-person Sonar class with an unblemished scorecard from the 12 race series.
Olympians Nick Dempsey and Bryony Shaw continue to govern the RS:X 9.5 and 8.5 fleets. Dempsey holds a 16 point lead at the top of the table after a 1-1-2-1 for today’s efforts, while Shaw posted once again a clean sweep of race wins from the four races completed. Shaw is yet to drop any points after the 12 race series and will also enter tomorrow’s medal race decider with a 16 point cushion over Blanca Manchon from Spain.
Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz hold a sizable advantage in the 49erFX event. The Dutch sailors have opened up a 17 point gap over Kate Macgregor and Katrina Best with an impressive three race wins and a second. With three medal races scheduled for Friday, Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth have closed the gap on their British counterparts to only one point after their first race win of the regatta in today’s opening race of the day.
The final medal races are scheduled to start at 10.00am tomorrow (Friday 6 June) with a 18-22 knot forecast in store.