Five golds, one silver and five bronze medals for British team at Miami Olympic classes regatta
British sailors took a total of eleven medals at the Olympic and Paralympic classes regatta in Miami which finished last weekend. The impressive medal haul will draw plenty of attention given the new Olympic classes along with providing an indication as to the competitiveness of the next wave of British Olympic sailors and pairings.
With so much effort focused on the British team for the home Games in 2012 and with several of its star players retiring from Olympic sailing, there was concern as to whether the national team could maintain its reputation in the world of Olympic sailing. In addition, two new classes, the Women’s 49er FX and the mixed crew Nacra 17 look set to shuffle the pack even further.
But after a week in Miami where the whether played havoc with the racing the British team came away with an impressive number of sailors on the podium.
GBR Medal tally, ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami:
Megan Pascoe (2.4mR)
Alexandra Rickham-Niki Birrell (SKUD)
Sophie Weguelin-Eilidh McIntyre (470 Women)
Giles Scott (Finn)
Bryony Shaw (RS:X Women)
John Robertson-Hannah Stodel-Steve Thomas (Sonar)
Helena Lucas (2.4mR)
Stevie Morrison-Chris Grube (49er)
Frances Peters-Nicola Groves (49erFX)
Ben Saxton-Hannah Diamond (Nacra 17)
Nick Thompson (Laser)
Here’s the official report from the British Sailing Team:
Brits score golden hat trick on Miami medal race day
Giles Scott, Bryony Shaw and the 470 women’s pairing of Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre ensured a golden hat trick for Britain’s sailors on the final day of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami (1 February).
Weguelin and McIntyre clawed their way back through the medal race fleet to claim their first World Cup title since teaming up a year ago, while Giles Scott managed to overhaul a nine-point gap behind Australia’s Oliver Tweddell to seal honours in the Finn class – his third victory in three regattas since his return to the class following America’s Cup duties.
Bronze medals for new pairing Stevie Morrison-Chris Grube in the 49er, Frances Peters and Nicola Groves in the 49erFX, Ben Saxton-Hannah Diamond in the Nacra 17 and Laser sailor Nick Thompson ensured a lucrative 11-medal return for the British Sailing Team at this World Cup regatta, with the team having already claimed four medals from the three Paralympic classes on Friday.
Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre got the day off to winning ways, overcoming a poor start in the ten-boat 470 women’s medal race to pull through and claim the race win and the regatta victory with it.
The duo, European bronze medallists, have previously won the EUROSAF Champions Cup title in Kiel, but this marks their first World Cup victory since teaming up last January.
“It’s pretty cool,” said 19-year-old McIntyre, whose father Mike won Olympic gold in the Star in 1988.
“We’re just relaxing after that race – it was quite stressful! We had an awful start and had to battle our way through. The exact people we didn’t want to be winning were winning, so it was a pretty full-on race. But we pulled through and managed to win it, so it’s all good.”
The light wind isn’t usually something we tend to favour, but it’s not been a struggle this week. We’ve done a lot of training before the regatta and we felt pretty confident going in.”
“It’s just nice to know that we’ve got good pace, which is always helpful, and it’s nice to know that we’re able to handle ourselves in tight situations.”
Giles Scott overcame a difficult hurdle in the form of Australian Oliver Tweddell, who sailed an impressive opening series to amass a nine point lead over the British sailor.
But it wasn’t enough, with the 26-year-old Scott’s conservative medal race tactics paying off.
“It was a very difficult race,” Scott explained. “Oli was a bit more high-risk. I think I rounded in about fourth or fifth and he was eighth or ninth. We kind of maintained that gap – as I picked up a few he picked up a few. I managed to dial him down when I was coming down on the port layline when I was coming downwind. That held him up another couple of boat lengths which confirmed it for me so I was very happy with how it went.”
“All you can do is try and look after yourself and try and do everything you can to get yourself in a good position and see where your competitors are in the fleet and see if you can affect them in any way you can. But it’s generally look after yourself first and then see how they’re doing.”
Scott returned to the Finn in September after a campaign with the Luna Rossa America’s Cup team, and now with three wins from his three regattas since returning, he’s feeling the benefit of his break from the Olympic classes.
“There are a lot of very smart people doing a lot of very smart things in the America’s Cup world and for sure there are a lot of lessons you can learn for Olympic sailing.”
British Sailing’s athlete of the year for 2013, Bryony Shaw, led the RS:X women’s windsurfing series from start to finish, sealing overall victory by five points after a third place in today’s medal race.
“It’s been really good training,” Shaw enthused of the predominantly light wind conditions this week.
“We had a winter where we were mostly sailing on the fins, so to come here and be strong in pumping conditions is a really good sign for the coming season. I’m looking forward to having an event where we do have more time on the fin and check that speed out, but to know that we’re going well in light winds is a really good sign.
“It’s great to start the year off with a win, and hopefully that will keep coming. I feel like I’m a very good all round sailor now, so if we get to Palma and it’s all about board speed or fitness or tactics then hopefully I can rise to the challenge and come away with another win.”
Stevie Morrison and Chris Grube cemented their new partnership with a bronze medal in the 49er class, but Podium Potential pairing James Peters and Ed Fitzgerald stole the day with two race wins from the three short ‘theatre style’ races for the class. They finished sixth overall, with the new team of John Pink and Stuart Bithell in fifth.
European bronze medallists Frances Peters and Nicola Groves elevated themselves into the bronze medal position – their first World Cup podium finish – posting a second and a fifth today before finishing on a flourish with race win from the third of their three finals races. Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth sailed a steady day finishing fourth in all three races to end the regatta sixth overall.
Like Peters and Groves, Nacra 17 duo Ben Saxton-Hannah Diamond and Laser sailor Nick Thompson all started the day outside of the podium spots in fourth place, and ended the day with bronze medals.
Saxton and Diamond fought off Spain’s Iker Martinez-Tanya Chiara Frank to earn their bronze on countback, while Thompson finished third in his double-points race to claim the third step of the podium behind Croatia’s Tonci Stipanovic and Brazilian World Champion Robert Scheidt.
Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield were also in final day action in the 470 men’s class, finishing eighth overall with a sixth in the medal race.
“Miami is always a great host city and a good light wind venue to measure the progress of our winter training programmes, so it’s been a great event from that perspective,” said RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park.
“The highlights for me have to be the performances of Bryony Shaw, Sophie and Eilidh in the 470 women’s event, and Megan Pascoe in the 2.4mR, where they basically all led from day one to the finish in competitive fleets.
“Our medal count across the classes is pleasing, but among the standout performances for me were Alex Mills Barton scoring 2,1 in the Laser on day two, and the great three medal race performance from Frances Peters and Nicola Groves in the 49erFX today which earned them their bronze.
“Overall it’s a great performance from the team in Miami, and we now look forward to the next block of winter training ahead of ISAF Sailing World Cup in Palma in April,” Park concluded.