Six medals for Team GBR at first Olympic class regatta of the season

RYA Team GBR made a successful start to the Olympic class sailing season, winning a total of six medals at the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma. Great Britain won a gold medal in the 470 men’s class, silver in the Laser Standard and Radial and bronze medals in the 470 women, Laser and Tornado.

Great Britain’s gold medal came from 470 sailors Nic Asher and Elliot Willis who sailed a great series in Palma and led the event from start to finish. Although the winds were too light to get racing underway on the final day, they scored just one result outside the top five to win the class by twenty points from nearest rivals Pallu De La Barriere and Chappellier Aymeric of France.

In the Laser class Great Britain dominated the podium with Athens Olympian Paul Goodison winning silver and younger team mate Mark Howard taking bronze. The 2003 world champion Gustavo Lima upped his game towards the end of the series to win the event by seventeen points. The Laser class is one that Great Britain has always had a strong squad of sailors and this class will be one to watch in the build up to Beijing 2008 as, in total, there were six sailors that finished in the top ten.

There was also an encouraging result for Team GBR in the new women’s Olympic class, the Laser Radial. Youth worlds medallist Charlotte Dobson put together a good series at her first major Olympic class regatta to win the silver medal behind America’s Paige Railey. Similar to the Laser class, there were also other Brits hot on her heals with Penny Mountford finishing seventh and Andrea Brewster tenth.

Tornado sailors Leigh McMillan and Will Howden improved as the week went on and three first places in the final three races saw them leave Palma with a bronze medal. Darren Bundock and Aaron Worrall of Australia won the class by a healthy margin from Roland Gaebler and Gunnare Struckmann of Germany. Fellow Brits Hugh Styles and Graham Vials finished tenth with team mates Rob Wilson and Mark Bulkeley tenth.

The final bronze medal for Team GBR came in the 470 women’s class from Athens Olympian Christina Bassadone. With new partner Saskia Clark, they sailed a consistent series, scoring a number of results in the top three, to take home a medal from the event. Sylvia Volg and Carolina Flatscher of Austria won the class from the Spanish pairing of Natalia Via Dufresne and Laia Tutzo. Fellow Brits Pippa Wilson and Sheena Craig finished tenth.

RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park commented on the overall results: “A successful start to the 2005 season for Team GBR, particularly for the Development Squad sailors, many of whom were competing for the first time at senior level. Our coaches will go home happy that their charges are making progress against goals, while some of the sailors will be pleasantly surprised that they exceeded their personal goals. I was particularly pleased to see three GBR women finish in the top 10 in the Laser Radial as this new class enters the Olympic arena.”