Paul Goodison brings home gold at Kiel Week 26/6/06

Laser sailor Paul Goodison delivered gold for Great Britain on the final day of Olympic classes sailing at Kiel Week on Sunday (25 June), with Leigh McMillan and Will Howden securing silver for Skandia Team GBR in the Tornado class.

For the European Champion Goodison, this win in Germany brings his fourth podium finish of the year, to add to his gold in Miami and silvers from the Princess Sofia and Holland Regattas, and is a timely win with his European title defence looming in just two weeks’ time in Poland.

Goodison, 28, had an 11-point lead over the second-placed Australian Tom Slingsby heading into Sunday’s double-points scoring final medal race, so approached the race with a certain degree of conservatism, finishing in sixth to secure his third Kiel Week title by seven points.

“I was a little bit shy in the medal race,” Goodison recalls. “We’d worked out that I only needed to come sixth in the medal race no matter what. Even so, I started a bit too safe and didn’t have such a great first beat!

“But then the Australian guys were just in front of me and I got past my main rival on the last run, so all in all I went out and did what I needed to do.”

The Laser fleet in Kiel saw a strong entry with over 170 boats competing, so Goodison can now head to the Laser Europeans in Gydnia, Poland (5-12 July) safe in the knowledge that he’s beaten some big names on the Laser scene.

“It’s a great bit of confidence for me – I’ve been feeling pretty ill all week and the plan was maybe to go home after day three because I didn’t want to burn myself out before the Europeans. But luckily the weather eased off a bit and I started feeling a little bit better.

“I’ll just go home now, have a week’s rest and ease my way into a bit of training at the end of next week, and then out to Poland – let’s hope things can go as well there.”

Also in the Laser class, former ISAF Youth World Champion, Nick Thompson, put in his best senior performance to date, finishing eighth overall.

Kiel Week has seen a return to form of Skandia Team GBR’s world silver medal-winning Tornado team, Leigh McMillan and Will Howden following Howden’s knee injury, with the pair securing silver on the final day after a week of solid sailing.

With the Brits trailing behind Australian series leaders Darren Bundock and Glenn Ashby heading into the medal race, the final showdown – for McMillan and Howden at least – was all about protecting their silver medal position from the third placed Spaniards, Echavarri and Paz.

The match racing tactics were put to good effect, and with the medal race only lasting 10 minutes for the two laps, the Spanish were never in a position to get the five boat places they needed between themselves the Brits.

“This was a good result for us,” said Howden afterwards. “It is perfect preparation for the Europeans starting down the road in a few weeks time. We have had a good week, and will go home for a short rest before we start our training in Travemunde with Darren and Glenn.”

In the Finn class, Matt Howard recorded his best ever Grade 1 regatta result, finishing fifth overall thanks to a third place finish from the final race, but there was a disappointing end to the regatta for world silver medallist Helena Lucas in the 2.4mR Paralympic class, who was ruled to have had a premature start in her final race. She finishes in sixth, with development squad sailor Megan Pascoe posting a fifth in the final race to finish in fifth overall.

“It’s encouraging to see some of our top sailors showing a return to form – especially Leigh and Will, following Will’s injury, and also Paul hitting form just before the Europeans in two weeks’ time,” said Skandia Team GBR head coach Chris Gowers.

“Just as encouraging, though, have been the performances of a number of our younger development squad sailors – notably Dave Evans and Rick Peacock in the 49er, and Nick Thompson in the Laser – who have really troubled some of the big name sailors in Kiel this week.”