Shirley Robertson and team clinch gold at Sail for Gold regatta this weekend 16/10/06

Two years after winning her Athens gold medal, Shirley Robertson saw a triumphant return to Olympic classes sailing on Sunday (15 October) clinching gold at the Skandia RYA Sail for Gold Regatta just 13 weeks after giving birth to twins.

Back in the Yngling and racing for the first time with her new crew Annie Lush and Lucy Macgregor, the double Olympic gold medallist won Sunday’s final medal race and kept sufficient boats between her and her nearest Dutch rivals to seal the overall victory.

Robertson, Lush and Macgregor went into the day in third place with the Netherlands’ Mandy Mulder, Annemieke Bes and Marye Kampen at the top of the leaderboard heading into the final double-points scoring medal race at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, where big breezes around the 25 knot mark made for an exciting day’s action.

Robertson’s team wre hotly pursued around the medal race track by the 38-year-old new mum’s former crewmates Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb, now sailing together with Pippa Wilson.

The two top Skandia Team GBR Ynglings ensured a British one-two in the medal race, which was enough to boost Ayton’s team onto the podium in bronze medal position, in addition to Team Shirley Robertson’s gold.

“It really feels fantastic to win our first event outing together but it was a bit of a surprise in some ways.

“We sailed well in some cases but at other points we made some bad choices which we will have to work on. But as we had a medal race today it allowed us to take back some of our previous mistakes. We knew this morning we just had to grasp the opportunity and pull it out of the bag. We started in a good position on the line and dominated the whole way round so we are very happy tonight.”

Robertson continued: “Having not raced in the Yngling since the last race of Athens I am pleased with my performance and so proud of my new team, Annie and Lucy. We had an exceptional performance this weekend.”

Austria’s Matthias Schmidt and Florian Reichstaedter won the 470 men’s medal race, but it wasn’t enough to knock Athens silver medallists Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield off the top step of the podium. Rogers and Glanfield crossed in second to clinch the overall victory with a seven-point margin, while there was disappointing end to Nic Asher and Eliott Willis’ regatta. A broken kicker forced the new World Champions to retire from the final race, which also resulted in them being squeezed out of the podium places into fourth.

Skandia Team GBR’s Luke Patience and Chris Grube took silver with the Austrian pair finishing in third, while Ally Martin and Lottie Clay took the women’s 470 title.

European Champion Paul Goodison won the Laser event in spite of a near capsize in the medal race, while Charlotte Dobson came out on top in the women’s single-handed Laser Radial class. World number one Nick Dempsey took his fifth race win from the six race series in today’s medal race for the RS:X 9.5 windsurfers to take the title nine points clear, with Bryony Shaw topping the RS:X 8.5 fleet.

Ed Wright, crowned Finn European Champion just two weeks ago, continued his winning streak, while a ding-dong battle in the Tornado saw Leigh McMillan and Will Howden, in spite of nearly capsizing, come out ahead of Rob Wilson and Mark Bulkeley to take the overall win.

“This is the highlight of the winter series results – we had top class competition here to challenge us all the way to the finish, so we are pleased to once again come out on top,” said Howden.

“It has again been great training for our Worlds in Argentina and we’re pleased that we are once again moving in the right direction.”

A superb comeback in the 49er medal race saw Spanish Olympic champions Iker Martinez and Xavier Fernandez snatch victory from Europeans Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes. In overall second behind the Skandia Team GBR sailors heading into the final race, the Spanish team needed to keep four boats between them and the British pair to take the gold.

The Spanish team were in overall second behind the Skandia Team GBR sailors heading into the final race. After a good start they were forced back into ninth place after having to take a penalty, but an excellent display of boat handling and superior speed allowed them to claw their way back up the fleet. It still wasn’t enough for the gold, but then Morrison and Rhodes made a critical handling error on the final run which saw them lose four boat places the title slipped away.

“We managed to make a little bit of a hash in the last race. It was very windy, and quite a tricky day,” a disappointed Morrison explained. We made a few silly mistakes. [Iker] made some mistakes as well which gave us opportunities to beat him. Unfortunately there turned out to be opportunities for us to make mistakes and we took those opportunities well and made some good mistakes!

“I hope we can learn from them and move on and I think we will. We know what we did wrong – we kind of got lost in the moment and didn’t do the simple things right.”

The strong winds saw the three Paralympic classes confined to shore today, resulting in Gustaf Fresk and Annika Lindgren being crowned the first ever European champions in the new Paralympic SKUD-18 class. The Sonar title went to the German trio of Jens Kroker, Siegmund Mainka and Tobias Schuetz, with Damien Seguin winning gold in the 2.4mR class.

This inaugural Skandia RYA Sail for Gold Regatta saw an impressive 264 boats from 22 nations descend on the 2012 Olympic sailing venue for three days of world class competition, which also featured demonstrations of GPS boat tracking and radio commentary on the internet to enhance the regatta for spectators.

Rob Andrews – event director concluded: “I’ve been really thrilled with the turnout from the overseas sailors for this event, and we’ve been lucky as the weather has allowed us to get some top quality racing in over the past three days. Ultimately going forward we hope this event will become one of the prime Grade 1 regattas on European circuit and I think weekend has given us a good start.

“The experiments we’ve been running here with the GPS tracking of boats and the audio race commentary over the internet have proved extremely popular and are a big step in the promotion of Olympic classes sailing.”