The last day’s racing of the Saronic Gulf Olympic classes regatta in Athens took place on Friday 24 August.
Race one for the Europes was sailed in 8-14 knots and flat seas and Belgium sailor, Min Dizillie, showed the same consistency that she’d shown all week, and proved that she is well suited to the conditions, never scoring out of the top three. She scored a third place in the first race and went on to win the second, increasing her lead from Larissa Nevierov of Italy by 29 points.
British sailor, Sarah Ayton, got progressively better as the week went on. With a disappointing start to the event due to gear failure and then a premature start, she went on to sail consistently and never had a result out of the top five. She finished the event in fourth place overall.
Team mate Debbie Winstanley who started off the regatta so promisingly, finished her day earlier than expected when she retired from the first race and did not sail the second. Towards the end of the week, the heat and the environment had begun to take its toll and Debbie was feeling increasing worse as the week went on. Hamish Willcox, 470 coach, explained, “at least 30 per cent of the team have been suffering from the environment, this is something we will need to work on in the future, we have certainly learnt a valuable lesson from this regatta.”
A good results for British sailors Josie Gibson and Saskia Clarke, who gradually improved all event to end up second overall, and recording two wins in the women’s fleet. With the Spanish pair, Natalia Via Dufresne/Sandra Azon discarding their only result out of the top two (a fifth place), they finished with an impressive score sheet, of three first places and five seconds and an overall total of 13 points, some 15 points in front of the British girls. Coach, Hamish Willcox was pleased with the results and commented, “this is a nice breakthrough, there has been a bit of a drought in the women’s fleet, and we haven’t had a result like this for quite some time, both the men’s and the women’s teams have proved they are capable of good results on the National and International circuit.” Team mates Christina Bassadone/Jenny Heely, started off the regatta consistently but ended up not sailing the last day, again due to illness.
In the men’s 470 fleet, the Greek pairing of Andreas Kosmatopoulos/Kostas Trigonis sailed consistently all week, with their worst result being an 18th which was their one discard. They finished 12 points in front of their team mates Mantis Takis/Polychronidis Theo. British sailors Graham Vials/Dan Newman, had an encouraging regatta, recording a win in race seven, and finishing seventh overall, two places in front of team mates Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield. The Finn class was dominated by Greek sailor Emilios Papathanassiou, who, out of nine races scored an impressive eight firsts and one second, to win the event from team mate Akis Karnoutsos by 11 points. British sailor, Andrew Simpson, who started off the regatta with a DNF, due to gear failure, sailed consistently in the middle half of the regatta to never fall from the top three. Towards the end of the regatta he failed to finish another two races which dropped him from third overall to fourth.
This first event in Athens for the RYA Team GBR, has been a very worthy experience for all the sailors, it has given them a taste of how conditions will be over the next couple of years at the pre-Olympics and ultimately the Olympics and a good insight into the training that needs to be done and how to overcome some of the problems that have occured, such as illness.
470 Women (overall after 9 races, 1 discard)
1st Natalia Via Dufresne-Sandra Azon ESP 13 points
2nd Josie Gibson-Saskia Clark GBR 28 points
3rd Jenny Armstrong-Belinda Stowell AUS 33 points
Other British placings
12th Christina Bassadone-Jenny Heely 75 points
470 Men (overall after 7 races, 1 d