Olympic medallists come out on top at National Ranker event at Weymouth 9/10/06

Britain’s Olympic sailing medallists were out in force at this weekend’s first RYA Olympic Classes National Ranking event (7-8 October) at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy.

Yngling Olympic Champions Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb, 470 silver medallists Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield, bronze medal-winning windsurfer Nick Dempsey and 49er bronze medallists Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks all came out on top in their respective classes after a weekend of solid breeze and world class racing at the 2012 Olympic venue.

In winds of up to 20 knots, Skandia Team GBR’s World Champions Draper and Hiscocks emerged victorious in the 40-strong 49er fleet, with the Weymouth locals winning by just one point in spite of a strong start by Spain’s visiting Olympic Champions Iker Martinez and Xavier Fernandez. Austria’s Nico Delle Karth and Nikolaus Resch finished second, with the Spanish duo squeezed into third.

The 470 men’s fleet promised an interesting battle between Athens silver medallists Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield, and newly-crowned World Champions Nic Asher and Elliot Willis. The two-time Olympians took an early grip on the race series, with three firsts in their opening three races, and a further bullet in race five which helped them to a four point win over Asher and Willis. Ally Martin and Lottie Clay won the 470 women’s event.

Nick Dempsey cruised to victory in the RS:X men’s fleet, gaining such a commanding lead that he could sit out the sixth and final race – an approach also employed by Yngling sailors Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb, sailing with Pippa Wilson on the bow, and also newly-crowned European Champion Ed Wright in the 11-boat Finn event.

World silver medallists Leigh McMillan and Will Howden were made to work for their win in the Tornado class, but eventually secured a two-point margin of victory over second placed Rob Wilson and Mark Bulkeley, and Hugh Styles and Tom Peel in third.

“This is another good result for us in the build up to our Worlds,” said Howden. “We were pleased to get the four wins in conditions which are not normally our strongest, but we still have to start the regattas better! There are three more events before our worlds so there is still plenty of practice to get in shape for our most important event of the year!”

European Champion Bryony Shaw clinched the win in the RS:X 8.5m discipline, while Megan Pascoe took the win in the 2.4mR Paralympic class. There was disappointment for world silver medallist Helena Lucas, who was forced to retire from the 2.4mR event when her tiller and the foot pedals in her boat both broke.

“We saw some excellent racing conditions this weekend, and with such a star-studded entry both from the top the Skandia Team GBR sailors and international visitors, it was a great start to the 2006 National Ranking Series,” said RYA Competitions Manager Rob Andrews.

“All eyes will now be on the inaugural Sail for Gold Regatta next weekend, where Olympic hopefuls both from home and abroad will be pushing for good results on the 2012 Olympic waters.”

The three weekend National Ranking Series at WPNSA (7-8 October; 13-15 October in conjunction with the Sail for Gold Regatta; 28-29 October) will feature Skandia Team GBR’s top talent against the new breed hoping to challenge for 2012, as well as domestic Olympic class racers.