by Lindsey Bell
At the 49er and 49erFX World Championships in Marseille on Sunday (29 September), Britain’s Olympic skiff sailors insist there is more to come after they missed out on the podium spots.
Finals day frustration for GBR skiff stars - 49er/49erFX World Championships 2013
49er European Champions Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign and the women’s 49erFX duo of Frances Peters and Nicola Groves both went into the final three medal race day with chances of a silverware, but mistakes cost them in the tough short-race double points finals format which concluded the week.
For Fletcher and Sign it was an especially bitter pill to swallow, leaving Marseilles in fourth with the ‘leather medal’, having sailed steadily to lead the regatta for the first four days.
They went into the three-race finals in overall third, but a dropped mainsheet and penalty turns on the first upwind leg of the first race had them on the back foot from the start of the day. They finished from the ten boats in that race and in spite of a third and a fifth in the subsequent two races, they were unable to claw back into contention.
'It was certainly pretty hard to stomach,' Fletcher admitted.
'We crossed the line and we knew we hadn’t done enough so that feels pretty disappointing after such a good week.
'We came here to win so it’s really disappointing not to come away with a medal. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes, so we’ll have to sit down with our coach and figured out a way to go forward.
'Normally we have a good track record with this format and today we just got it a little bit wrong in the first race.'
Gold and silver went to the New Zealand teams of Peter Burling-Blair Tuke and Marcus Hansen-Josh Porebski, with local heroes Manu Dyen-Stephane Christidis taking bronze.
Clearly frustrated at missing out on their first World Championship medal, Fletcher took some consolation from achieving what was still their best Worlds result to date.
'Fourth at the Worlds is not where we wanted to be, but it is our best World Championship finish so that’s something.
'We’ve come on leaps and bounds from last year and we’re really happy with the speed and the progress we’ve made, so we just need to keep on this learning curve and we’ll be in front of the others in no time.'
Fellow British Sailing Team crew John Pink-Simon Wheeler were also in medal race action, having earned the tenth qualifying berth by winning the ‘petit finals’ over teammates Stevie Morrison-Ben Rhodes earlier in the day.
In the first ever World Championship for the new women’s 49erFX, Frances Peters and Nicola Groves were also left to rue an ultimately disappointing day on the water.
They got a great start to their three-race finals, winning the first one to push them up into overall third. A seventh place in the second race left the British duo in a pack of six boats all effectively level on points and fighting it out for silver.
But it wasn’t to be for the European bronze medallists, with a tenth in the final race seeing them end their Worlds in eighth place.
'It is pretty frustrating, especially after we had such good start by winning the first race,' Peters admitted.
'We made a few mistakes. It’s really difficult with such short races and with those conditions, if you make mistakes there’s really no way to get back.'
'Our goal was to go into the medal races today with a shot at the medals, and that’s what we did, but even so we’re disappointed with how it turned out,' Groves added.
'It is the first World Championship in the new class so to finish eighth will do for now. It’s been a massive learning curve in the class and we still feel we’ve got a lot more to come.'
RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park was in Marseille to observe the regatta.
'Frances and Nicola have performed very well all season. They’ll have come away with a huge amount of experience at their first Olympic Class World Championships of this new cycle and in this new 49erFX. And have certainly got plenty of potential to come.
'Dylan and Alain have had a good week all in all. They started the week well and were leading the championship until last night. They didn’t have such a good day yesterday and that made it difficult ultimately for them today and put them a bit on the back foot.
'It was great to be in there and racing for the medals in both fleets, but unfortunately on this occasion the medals just slipped away from us,' Park explained.
The British Sailing Team stars are further World Championship action this week when the Laser Radial World Championship gets kicks off in Rizhao, China, on Tuesday (1 October).
London Olympian Alison Young will hope to go one better than her fourth place at last year’s event, and follow up her European bronze with a World Championship podium finish. She’ll likely count the host’s Olympic Champion Lijia Xu, 2012 silver medallist Marit Bouwmeester and European Champion Annalise Murphy as her key rivals along the way.
Chloe Martin, Hannah Snellgrove and Georgina Povall will also be in action for the British Sailing Team.
The Laser Radial World Championship concludes on Monday 7 October.
For race updates the latest news from the British Sailing Team visit here.