British sailors move into podium positions in seven classes at Princess Sofia Trophy 13/4/06

British sailors took advantage of perfect racing conditions on day four of the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma, Spain, on Wednesday (12 April), manoeuvring into podium positions in seven of the ten contested Olympic class events with two days of the regatta left to run.

The shifty and unstable wind conditions which had dominated much of the week’s racing today gave way to a superb 10-14 knot sea breeze, which Skandia Team GBR’s sailors appeared to thrive on heading into the last half of the regatta.

Nick Dempsey’s dominance in the men’s RS:X windsurf fleet continues, with the Olympic bronze medallist posting a 2,1,2 from his three races today to extend his lead to 13 points over nearest rival, Brazilian Ricardo Santos in second, and 28 points over third-placed sailor Tom Ashley of New Zealand.

But the 25-year-old from Weymouth still rued a missed opportunity from his day’s efforts: “I should have won the last race,” he explained. “It just didn’t go quite to plan. Some might have called it bad judgement, some might have called it bad luck, but I definitely should have had two race wins today.”

Currently in tenth place, development squad sailor Leo McCallin remains in contention for Friday’s final medal race, while in the women’s RS:X fleet there are just nine points separating the top six sailors, with Brits Lucy Horwood and Bryony in third and fifth respectively. Christine Johnson, currently in tenth place, will also be looking to make the cut for Friday.

In the 49er class, Olympic bronze medallists Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks revelled in the conditions today, finding themselves at the top of the leaderboard for the first time this week. The Weymouth-based European Champions recorded 3,1,6 from their three races to displace reigning World Champions Rodion Luka and Georgii Leonchuk of Ukraine from their overnight lead.

Exmouth duo Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes endured mixed fortunes, posting a fourth place in their first race, but being judged to have prematurely crossed the start line in the second race. Finally posting an 11th in the third race, they finished the day in eighth place overall, while Paul Campbell James and Mark Asquith, currently in 14th, are still pushing hard for a place on Friday’s 10-boat final medal race.

Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Victoria Rawlinson scored a 3,1,5 today to hold firm to their second place in the Yngling fleet, just two points adrift from first, but 29 points ahead of the Dutch boat currently in third. Annie Lush and Lucy Macgregor, helmed by Greek Sophia Bekatorou in the absence of Shirley Robertson, are currently in tenth.

Christina Bassadone and Saskia Clark enjoyed a great day in the women’s 470 fleet today, easily winning the first of the day’s races before posting a third and fifth to elevate them into third place overall. In the men’s 470 class, Nic Asher and Elliot Willis have also nudged into the podium positions, with the help of a bullet from their second race of the day.

European Champion Paul Goodison maintains his second place in the Laser fleet, while 19-year-old development squad sailor Nick Thompson made great gains today, up from 31st overnight to 13th and gunning for a first ever medal race on Friday.

The Finn class sees two Skandia Team GBR sailors – Ed Wright and Matt Howard – in the top ten, while a testing day for the Laser Radial and Tornado team members will give rise to some determined performances tomorrow (Thursday) as sailors strive to make the final cut and a shot at the medals on Friday.