After a painful first week, Skandia Team GBR shows signs of recovery
Great Britain is guaranteed to leave the Perth World Championships with at least a silver medal from the women’s match racing event, after a superb semi-final comeback from Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor on Thursday (15 December) saw them through to Friday’s final.
The Skandia Team GBR trio were left holding on to their World Championship title by a thread when they went 0-2 down in the first-to-three semi-final against France’s Claire Leroy, Elodie Bertrand and Marie Riou.
But the Poole-based crew held their nerve to win the remaining three consecutive matches in emphatic style against the double World Champion Leroy to earn their chance of gold in Fremantle tomorrow.
If successful, the 31-year-old Lush – who won world titles crewing with USA’s Sally Barkow (2004,2005) and with the Macgregor sisters and Mary Rook in 2010 – would equal Dane Dorte Jensen’s record of four Women’s World Match Racing Championship titles (1999, 2000, 2001, 2006).
But the British trio will first have to overcome USA’s Anna Tunnicliffe, Debbie Capozzi and Molly Vandemoer in Fremantle on Friday after they beat the Russian team skippered by Ekaterina Skudina 3-1 in the second semi-final.
“We’re confident, we’re feeling good, ” said helm Lucy Macgregor. “It’s going to be hard, there’s no doubt about it, but if we sail how we did today then we’ve got a really good shot.”
“It was such a great semi-final – all three of us are really, really pleased right now especially having come back from 2-0 down,” Macgregor reflected of their semi-final victory.
“We had a disappointing first race in that we were on top, we were the stronger team and then we let it slip at the end of the race, and then we weren’t really in the game in the second race towards the end, so to come back from 2-0 feels good.
After missing out on an automatic spot from the group stages direct into the quarter-finals, the Skandia Team GBR crew have faced a long journey to reach this point having to sail through a tough repechage round. But Macgregor believes they’ve grown stronger as the event has progressed.
“We feel like we’re sailing better and better, we’ve learnt a huge amount and still have lots more to learn, but we’re really confident out there and even when we lost those first two races we feel like we were the stronger team in some ways.
“Then getting the next two wins we were like ‘right, we’re on to this’ and we felt good. It was quite easy really, being able to pick ourselves up and really go for it.
“I think all three of us are a tad tired [after a long event], I’m not going to lie, but we’re really up for it. It’s been a really long week and we want to finish it with a gold medal now.”
John Pink and Rick Peacock remain in control of the 49er fleet, with a six point margin over the second-placed Danish Toft Nielsen brothers, Emil and Simon. With just one race scheduled for the skiff class on Thursday, the British pair’s second to the Dane’s first was enough to keep them in pole position after nine races.
“We had just the one race in shifty offshore conditions, it was great,” said Pink.
“We got a good start, the wind shifted right just afterwards and from then on we just hung in there, so we’re really pleased. Hopefully we’ll be able to hold on over the next couple of days to remain in with a shout.”
A tenth for Dave Evans and Ed Powys seems them remain in the top ten medal race positions, currently placed sixth overall, while Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign will look to make the most of the remaining six fleet races over the next two days to boost themselves into the medal race spots. They’re 18th overall.
Australia’s triple World Champion Tom Slingsby remains on track for a fourth title on his home waters, but Skandia Team GBR’s Paul Goodison and Nick Thompson occupy the second and third spots on the podium with two more fleet races and the medal race to go.
The Olympic Champion Goodison finished second behind Slingsby in the first of the day’s two races for the Laser fleet, before sailing his discard in the second race to remain second overall. Thompson won the second of the day’s two races to seize overall third heading into the layday for the class on Friday.
Nick Dempsey made progress up the leaderboard in the men’s RS:X fleet with 12,7,10 for his three races elevating him from 20th to 15th overall, while Elliot Carney is 11th overall with 27,11,15 for his day. The windsurfers will return to action again on Saturday.