Sarah Ayton and team take gold in Cascais. Shirley Robertson and team settle for bronze 12/7/07

Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson clinched Great Britain’s first gold at the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Cascais, Portugal, yesterday winning the Yngling world title and pulling one step closer to Olympic qualification for Beijing 2008.

Double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson with her crew Annie Lush and Lucy Macgregor claimed the bronze medal spot, with Skandia Team GBR’s medal tally now at one gold and two bronze medals with two days in the regatta left to run.

The new ‘three blondes in a boat’ of Ayton, Webb and Wilson went into the final medal race on Wednesday with a slender one-point lead over Robertson’s second-placed crew. After clear start they were the second boat to reach the first windward mark, with Robertson’s team in sixth.

Already on the back foot after a poor start, Robertson, Lush and Macgregor then had to take penalty turns for infringing the German boat which set them back further.

But there was a heart-in-mouth moment for Ayton and Webb when, heading into the windward mark for the second time, Wilson missed the toe straps and fell into the water – their boat came painfully close to touching the buoy as they tried to haul Wilson back on board.

The trio crew recovered to cross the line sixth in the medal race, which was enough for them to capture the world title by just one point. The American crew of Sally Barkow, Carrie Howe and Debbie Capozzi gained silver, with Robertson, Lush and Macgregor in third after finishing ninth in the medal race.

“It’s just awesome,” exclaimed Ayton. “We’ve been working so hard for this ever since I became a helm and especially since Pippa joined our team at the end of the last year.

“Preparing for the event, we knew it would be a windy venue, which are the conditions that Shirley is strong in, so we knew there was the chance that it could have come down to who beat who in the medal race. Our goal was to win the start, we did that and managed to hold on.”

Robertson commented: “This was only the third medal race I have competed in since the new format was introduced two years ago. I felt we sailed a really good regatta this week, but our execution of the medal race wasn’t good enough.

“But we’ve come such a long way in such a short space of time,” Robertson continued. “Who would have thought we would be battling it out for the gold medal here against teams who have been together for the last three years?”

The Finn medal race was also contested on Wednesday, with seven sailors all within five points of each other and in with a shot at the medals. Ed Wright went into the final in fourth place, but was unable to boost himself into the medal positions. He finished the medal race in eighth place, to end his regatta in sixth place overall.

Another solid day for Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes sees them retain their position at the top of the 49er class leaderboard – defending champions Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks are in 10th.

Nick Dempsey heads into Thursday’s final medal race for the RS:X windsurfing class in third place, Christina Bassadone and Saskia Clark are in fifth place in the 470 women’s class, and Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield are second overall in the 470 men’s event.


Yngling (FINAL)
1.Sarah Ayton-Sarah Webb-Pippa Wilson, GBR (41pts)
2. Sally Barkow-Carrie Howe-Debbie Capozzi (42pts)
3. Shirley Robertson-Annie Lush-Lucy Macgregor, GBR (48pts)
Selected GBR
9. Victoria Rawlinson-Emma Rawlinson-Sue Monson (94pts)

Finn (FINAL)
1. Rafael Trujillo, Esp (22pts)
2. Jan-Pieter Postma (25pts)
3. Gasper Vincec, Slo (30pts)
Selected GBR
6. Ed Wright (37pts)

RS:X Men (after 7 races)
1. Ricardo Santos, Bra (19pts)
2. Prezmyslaw Miarczynski, Pol (24pts)
3. Nick Dempsey, GBR (26pts)

RS:X Women (after 7 races)
1. Zofia Klepacka, Pol (19pts)
2. Barbara Kendall, Nzl (30pts)
3. Marina Alabau, Esp (42pts)
Selected GBR
12. Bryony Shaw (83pts)

470 Men (after 7 races)
1. Nathan Wilmot-Malcolm Page, Aus (14pts)
2. Nick Rogers-Joe Glanfield, GBR (26pts)
3. Sven Coster-Kalle Coster, Ned (26pts)
Selected GBR
16. Nic Asher-Elliot Willis (22pts)

470 Women (after 5 races)
1. Marcelien de Koning-Lobke Berkhout, Ned (9pts)
2. Ingrid Petitjean-Nadege Dourouz, Fra (18pts)
3. Ai Kondo-Naoko Kamata, Jpn (23pts)
Selected GBR
5. Christina Bassadone-Saskia Clark (30pts)

49er (after 10 races)
1. Stevie Morrison-Ben Rhodes, GBR (18pts)
2. Nico Delle-Karth-Nikolaus Leopard, Aut (26pts)
3. Pietro Sibello-Gianfranco Sibello, Ita (37pts)
Selected GBR
10. Chris Draper-Simon Hiscocks (44pts)