As Britain's top Europe sailor Shirley Robertson takes the first early steps on the rungs of Yngling match racing circuit, the battle to fill her neoprene boots has begun in earnest

The Europe World Championships opened today off the Portuguese Atlantic coast resort of Villamoura. What was initially a relatively solid and stable 12-14kn breeze faded slightly and swung about as the daytime temperatures rose, but Debbie Winstanley – the best of the British so far – fared well, currently 11th in the 69-boat fleet.

After a mildly disappointing 17th in the first race, the Largs sailor found the groove and finished third in the second contest. The best of the bunch however is the Belgian sailor Min Dexillie, from former world sailor of the year, Carolijn Brouwer of Holland.

Team GBR’s Europe coach mark Barron was pleased with the performances so far: “Overall this was a pretty encouraging day. It was hard to stay consistent over two very different races. As an example the Finnish girl Sari Multala, world ranked one, had a first and then a 35th so our girls did respectably well.”

Europe Class World Championship 2001
Overall standings after 2 races:

  • 1. M Dexillie (BEL) 3pts (1,2)
  • 2. C Brouwer (NED) 3pts (2,1)
  • 3. J Pratas (POR) 10pts
  • 4. N G Turon (ESP) 10pts
  • 5. X Chunjuan (CHN) 12pts

Team GBR placings:

  • 11. D Winstanely (Largs) 20pts
  • 18. S Ayton (Weymouth) 36pts