Team GBR wrapped up the pre-Olympic test event at the Agios Kosmas Olympic Sailing Centre with five medals
Team GBR wrapped up the pre-Olympic test event at the Agios Kosmas Olympic Sailing Centre with five medals. Ben Ainslie took gold in the Finn class, silvers went to Paul Goodison in the Laser class and Andrew Simpson in the Finn, and bronze medals went to Shirley Robertson, Inga Leask and Sarah Ayton in the Yngling class and Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks in the 49er.
Racing got underway for all classes after a short postponement waiting for the sea breeze to fill in, with the exception of the Mistral class who unfortunately did not get any racing in on the final day.
Team GBR sailor Ben Ainslie has had a remarkable year, no one would have thought that when he came back to Britain after leaving an America’s Cup campaign and announced that he was embarking on a Finn campaign, that within six months he would have won the Europeans, worlds and also the first pre-Olympic test event.
Going into the final day of racing in the Finn class, Ben Ainslie had established a 33-point lead over his team mate Andrew Simpson. With two races left to sail his main tactic for the final day would be to stay out of trouble and sail safe. Ainslie stayed back on the starts to avoid being caught on course side and worked his way in the middle of the fleet. The tactic worked and Ainslie finished with a ninth and a 13th place to take the gold medal.
Ainslie commented: “I was as good as I needed to be today. I sailed conservatively and held back on the starts, sailing up through the middle of the fleet. I am really pleased as it is a good way for me to finish the season and I am happy with how I sailed.” When asked what he will do next, Ainslie replied, “there are a few things that I have learnt from this venue and the conditions, that I can work on in training over the winter to help me to improve as I think the standard of the fleet is getting better all the time and I will have to improve too, if I want to stay on top.”
Team GBR dominated the Finn class in true style, not only was it gold but it was also a silver medal too. Andrew Simpson sailed his best regatta of the year and posted a string of results inside the top three to take the silver, with Joao Signorini of Brazil winning the bronze medal. There was also a third Brit in the top ten, Charlie Cumbley finished in ninth place overall after scoring a consistent string of results.
One race was sailed in the Laser class and team GBR sailor Paul Goodison had a bit on to leave Athens with a medal. The gold medal was already decided and won by Daniel Birgmark from Sweden with a race to spare, but silver and bronze were still open. Going into the last race in fourth place overall, just one point behind Rasmus Myrgren of Sweden, Goodison would have to pull something out the bag. He rose to the occasion and went out to score his fourth first place of the series to overtake Myrgren and also knock Gareth Blanckenberg of South Africa out of the medals.
Goodison explained his day, “I got a good start, I started next to Myrgren and managed to smoke him upwind, I maintained my position throughout the race and went on to win it.” He continued, “my results were plagued by one bad day, but I am glad that I had more race wins than anybody else. I am just getting used the conditions and it has been a good regatta for that.”
In the three-person keelboat, the Yngling class, the competition was getting hot going into the final race. Melanie Dennison/Caroline Aders/Fiona Herbert of Australia were four points in front of team GBR sailors Shirley Robertson/Inga Leask/Sarah Ayton with Hannah Swett/Joan Touchette/Melissa Purdy of America five points behind in third place.
Robertson did not get off to the best start and was over the line, she had to go back and restart and from then on work her way through the fleet. The best the team could manage in the tricky conditions was a 17th place which dropped them out of second place, but still meant that they would be leaving Athens with the bronze medal, one of their best results of the year. Dennison took the gold after adding a fourth to her score, with Swett winning the final race and with it the silver medal.
Robertson commented: “we had to go back on the start and unfortunately struggled to move up through the fleet, it was a bit of a mishap, but one of those things. We are however, pleased to be third, we sailed pretty well and got better as the week went on, our communication was better and we were racing more as a team.”
“The season is now over for us and it is a case of going home and taking stock of things before deciding what to do next. We now know what we need to work on for Athens and what conditions we can expect. I think we have seen Athens at its worst this week [in terms of wind], but it has definitely been worthwhile coming.”
The final medal for team GBR was in the 49er class. Straight from success at both the world and European championships, where they scored silver medals at both, Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks added another medal to the cabinet. This one was a bronze after a hard fought battle on the last day when four races were sailed. They went into the final day in fifth place overall and 15 points off a medal position. After scoring a 9-2-16-12 score line it was enough to scrape in front of Santiago Lopez-Vasquez/Javier De La Plaza of Spain by one point and take the bronze.
Draper said, “we are very pleased with our result, there was a big wind shift on the final race but we kept plugging away and I am glad we did as we did not realise it was that close!
“We feel that we have certainly learnt a lot from this week, and some of the conditions we have experienced in Athens have previously been a weak area for us, but we now feeling more confident in them. We now have a short break planned and then an intensive winter training session to hopefully ensure that we maintain our position on the international circuit.”
Christoffer Sundby/Adam Lowry of Norway won the regatta with two races to spare from world and European champions Iker Martinez/Xabier Fernandez of Spain. Fellow team GBR sailors Alister Richardson/Peter Greenhalgh finished in ninth position overall after scoring a 7-9-19-15 on the final day.
Team GBR fell just outside the medals in the women’s Mistral class, with Natasha Sturges finishing up in fourth place. It has been a difficult week for both the men and women as the lack of breeze has resulted in a lot of hanging around and racing being abandoned on the final day.
There were also a number of top ten results for team GBR in many of the other fleets with Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield finishing up seventh in the men’s 470 class, Josie Gibson and Saskia Clark finishing ninth in the women’s 470 class, Nick Dempsey and Dom Tidey finishing in seventh and ninth place consecutively in the men’s Mistral class and Rob Wilson and Will Howden seventh in the Tornado class.
RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park summed up the regatta, “we came here with the focus on process goals; looking to learn about the conditions and the systems to be used by the race teams. As it has turned out the results have been a success too.
“Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks have continued their steady form that they have shown all year to pull up into bronze medal position. While Shirley and her crew managed to hold onto the bronze medal after being called OCS at the start of the final race.
“To leave the first test event with five medals and Iain Percy currently leading the Star worlds in America, is as good as we can hope for at this stage of the Olympic cycle. The sailors and support staff have worked hard over the last two weeks and hopefully the results are just a sign of things to come.”
The season is not yet over for team GBR who still have a host of world championships to attend. The Europe class are about to start their worlds in Canada, while the 470s and Laser worlds kick of in a weeks time with the Tornado worlds at the end of September. The Mistral European also get underway in a fortnight.
1, Sofia Bekatorou/Emilia Tsoulfa, GRE (3,15,1,5,1,1,1,11,8,4,(DNC)) 50 pts
2, Maria Fernanda Sesto/Paula Reinoso, ARG (7,2,7,(19),19,8,15,2,4,8,3) 75 pts
3, Ingrid Petitjean/Nadege Dourouz, FRA (11,3,5,9,(OCS),10,17,5,10,3,9) 82 pts
9, Josie Gibson/Saskia Clark (17,20,14,2,13,5,8,(23),11,10,13) 113 pts
24, Helena Lucas/Jenny Heeley ((OCS),11,6,10,16,DSQ,16,14,BFD,13,25) 175 pts
1, Johan Molund/Martin Andersson, SWE (5,5,12,7,4,2,2,8,6,15,(DNC)) 66 pts
2, Alvaro Marinho/Miguel Nunes, POR (6,12,3,2,14,4,14,7,(28),4,20) 86 pts
3, Yevgen Braslavets/Igor Matvienko, UKR (4,10,5,8,(OCS),7,8,24,7,6,11) 90 pts
7, Nick Rogers/Joe Glanfield ((OCS),4,6,12,18,11,15,14,3,8,9) 100 pts
11, Graham Vials/Dan Newman (14,13,20,(27),20,13,13,4,8,10,15) 130 pts
1, Christoffer Sundby/Adam Lowry, NOR
(8,3,(10),9,1,1,2,6,13,10,1,2,5,1,(DNC),(DNC) 72 pts
2, Iker Martinez/Xabier Fernandez, ESP
(2,(19),4,5,11,16,4,1,9,15,19,12,3,10,4,7) 103 pts
3, Chris Draper/Simon Hiscocks, GBR
(4,(OCS),6,2,(15),13,9,5,8,13,11,9,9,2,(16),12) 118 pts
9, Alister Richardson/Peter Greenhalgh
(1,23,11,21,28,5,12,(34),(OCS),5,3,8,7,9,19,15) 167 pts
1, Solenne Brain, FRA (2,3,2,1,1,2,3,1,3,(DNF),1) 19 pts
2, Virginia Kravarioti, GRE (3,2,1,2,(5),3,2,3,2,1,2) 21 pts
3, Ermio Oikonomopoulou, GRE (4,1,(5),4,4,1,1,2,1,3,3) 29 pts
no team GBR
1, Ben Ainslie, GBR (2,1,2,5,1,2,(DNF),1,1,9,13) 37 pts
2, Andrew Simpson, GBR (3,15,1,3,7,11,4,(24),4,3,3) 52 pts
3, Joao Signorini, BRA (5,17,9,10,4,1,(OCS),7,2,6,2) 63 pts
9, Charlie Cumbley (6,10,11,14,13,11,6,12,7,(DNF),12) 102 pts
1, Daniel Birgmark, SWE (4,5,2,(17),11,13,4,2,3,13,(DNC)) 74 pts
2, Paul Goodison, GBR (1,2,11,2,17,1,38,(OCS),24,1,1) 98 pts
3, Rasmus Myrgren, SWE (6,12,10,9,1,12,12,16,(32),17,17) 112 pts
other team GBR
30, Ed Wright (9,(DNF),32,8,30,OCS,31,27,26,30,19) 265 pts
1, Alessandra Sensini, ITA (6,1,2,5,1,1,5,(7),2,1) 24 pts
2, Lai Shan Lee, HKG (1,9,1,1,16,(OCS),4,1,1,8) 42 pts
3, Yin Jian, CHN (2,2,4,(DSQ),14,2,14,12,3,4) 57 pts
4, Natasha Sturges (3,11,5,17,11,(OCS),2,2,12,7) 70 pts
29, Bryony Shaw (25,24,31,25,23,(OCS),11,27,29,23) 217 pts
1, Nikolaos Kaklamanakis, GRE (3,5,1,1,2,2,(9),8,5,5) 32 pts
2, James Wells, NZL (13,1,2,3,(17),1,6,10,6,8) 49 pts
3, Jon-Paul Tobin, NZL (1,7,(19),2,4,13,5,1,10,7) 50 pts
7, Nick Dempsey (10,28,5,26,5,(34),3,3,3,11) 93 pts
9, Dom Tidey (25,13,9,7,(OCS),27,1,4,8,1) 95 pts
1, Roman Hagara/Hans-Peter Steinacher, AUT (3,6,6,1,2,1,12,2,2,6,(16)) 41 pts
2, Darren Bundock/John Forbes, AUS (2,(16),5,4,1,9,5,3,6,3,3) 41 pts
3, Olivier Backes/Laurent Voiron, FRA (1,5,2,(21),4,2,4,8,5,7,11) 49 pts
other team GBR
7, Rob Wilson/Will Howden (7,12,1,5,(22),15,13,7,10,5,15) 90 pts
11, Hugh Styles/Adam May (12,17,13,12,6,14,15,5,(OCS),18,10) 122 pts
1, Melanie Dennison/Caroline Aders/Fiona Herbert, AUS (8,1,5,3,12,(18),3,1,8,11,4) 56 pts
2, Hannah Swett/Joan Touchette/Melissa Purdy, USA (1,9,3,7,2,21,5,11,(23),2,1) 62 pts
3, Shirley Robertson/Sarah Ayton/Inga Leask, GBR (6,21,9,9,3,5,6,8,2,8,17) 73
pts other team GBR
22, Lizzie Edwards/Sarah Allen/Caroline Edwards ((OCS),17,22,22,4,DNF,13,14,9,22,OCS) 169 pts