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Sail for Gold - Podium glory for GBR sailors

by Matt Carter on 10 Jun 2012
Alison Young, (GBR) Gold medal winner racing in the Radial class on day 6 of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, in Weymouth and Portland, the 2012 Olympic venue onEdition © http://www.onEdition.com
In the 2012 Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, Alison Young and Giles Scott sealed victories in the Laser Radial and Finn events on the final day of racing, with further podium glory for British sailors in the 470 men, 470 women, 49er, Star, Finn and RS:X men’s events taking the GBR medal tally to eleven from their home World Cup regatta.

With two gold medals and one silver already secured from the three Paralympic classes on Friday, medal race day in Weymouth and Portland proved an eventful one for Skandia Team GBR with Alison Young kicking off the gold medal proceedings in the Laser Radial class.

The 24-year-old Young, who earned her call-up to Team GB for the 2012 Games just four weeks ago, entered the medal race in second overall after a string of consistent scores at the 2012 Olympic venue, which served up a mix of conditions across the regatta.

The Radial sailor finished the medal race in second place, which was enough to secure the regatta gold by two points – her first gold medal at a senior event.

'It’s a great result for me, you always aim to do your best and if your best means that you win then it’s pretty cool!' Young enthused.

'It was quite tight at the first beat, I just took the shifts and rounded the windward mark in second and it was just a case of keeping the main girls behind me. It’s a great confidence boost in terms of my preparation for the Games,' she said.

Young has seen a steady progression in her results over the past six months, finishing seventh at the 2011 Perth World Championships in December, two fourth place finishes at the ISAF World Cup events in Miami and Hyeres, and then narrowly missed out on the podium spots at the World Championship last month, where she finished fourth.

Young, originally from Bewdley in Worcestershire, vows there is still work to be done however between now and the big event in August.

'I’ve had a great programme and have been working hard with my coaches so now I’ll just continue to build on my performance. There are certainly a few little things which we need to tweak from this regatta, so we will be working hard ensuring everything is ready to go in August.

'I would certainly like to think I can produce the same performance and result at the Games. The fleet is very competitive with it being extremely close between a few of the top girls, so no doubt the racing in August will be very tight all week.'

Giles Scott finished his regatta in style, posting a sixth race win of the event and claiming the gold medal in empathic style in today’s medal race.

With a twelve point margin over nearest rival Ben Ainslie, Scott had a comfortable cushion heading into the final ten-boat showdown for the race for gold.

Ainslie suffered a capsize coming into the downwind gate and finished the race tenth – still enough to earn him the silver medal – with the Skandia Sail for Gold crown going to the 2011 World and European champion Scott.

'It feels good – a bit of an interesting medal race to be honest. It was quite nice to be able to pull through and win it in the end, Ben had a bit of a mishap and capsized which allowed me to focus on winning the race,' said Scott.


'I can’t really complain I counted first and seconds so you can’t really ask for much more and to be able to end with a win in the medal race is great!

'It’s nice to win races, it was kind of over at the bottom mark and all I really had to do was finish so I was in a position to attack for the win and I managed to get it.

'I would fancy my chances for a medal at the Olympics, but obviously as I’m not going there is no point thinking about it. Olympic sailing is all about the Olympics, so yes it’s a little bit painful knowing that I’m not going to be there, it was more painful this time last year when I knew I wasn’t going so now I have just got used to it.

'I’ve branched out now and am doing other things within sailing as well as enjoying the Finn sailing that I’m doing so I’m in a good place.'

Fellow GBR training partners Mark Andrews and Andrew Mills rounded off the regatta in fifth and sixth overall.

Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell entered Saturday’s medal race in the 470 class trailing three points behind World Champions Matthew Belcher and Malcolm Page, and after a tightly fought contest the GBR duo were unable to overthrow their 470 rivals finishing with the silver medal.

'It was an exciting race – offshore and shifty with some good breeze,' said Bithell.

'The Aussie boat extended their lead in the first part of the race and were then gone, the Croatians then caught up and it was more of a three way battle. We needed to try and get a boat in between us and the Aussie’s, and the fact that we were first and second at the windward mark by quite a long way meant it was going to be very difficult to do!'

Patience and Bithell have stamped their mark in the 470 men’s class over the past 12 months, and insist they are bridging the gap between themselves and the Australian World Champions.

'We are certainly getting closer and have a few secrets up our sleeves which we will be working on between now and the Games. We can certainly take confidence away from this regatta, Stuart and I are great buddies, were enjoying this journey together and it’s a great hoot, but we will definitely mean business come August.'

World Champions Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark improved their overnight position from fourth to claim bronze in the 470 women’s event. The medal race didn’t quite go to plan, as Clark explained:


'It was some pretty ugly sailing we did out there but we just managed to scrape the bronze at the last windward mark, so just happy to come away with a medal.

'We had a few little technical issues with the tiller extension falling off just before the start, so we had to tape that back on which put us right at the back of the fleet.'

Clark continued: 'We’re happy overall but we’re very disappointed with that piece of equipment failure which is pretty inexcusable really. I think we got a bit lucky that it didn’t cost us coming away with a medal as it probably should have.'

Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign secured their first ever podium finish in the ISAF World Cup circuit with bronze in the 49er class, finishing just two points in front of Olympic representatives Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes, who finished fourth overall after a strong finish of second in the medal race.


'It feels amazing,' the 24-year old Fletcher said of their podium finish. 'We’ve finally broken our curse which we have had here at Weymouth!'

'I guess it must be good for [Stevie and Ben] to know they have got some of the top teams to be training against,' Fletcher continued. 'We’re fully committed to helping them try and win gold because ultimately if it can’t be us then we hope it’s them!'

In a gold medal position going into the day, but with the current World Champions hot on their heels, Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson had a tough battle in the Star class. The Skandia Team GBR duo had a collision with their Brazilian rivals, resulting in the Olympic champions finishing the medal race eighth and having to settle for the bronze medal.


'We went into the medal race with a narrow lead but came off worse after a big smash from picking the wrong side of the beat,' explained Percy.

'We generally have to sharpen our strategy, although the course we raced on isn’t going to be the course used in the Olympics for our class so we were caught out with our lack of knowledge. There is something a lot more important happening this year that we want to try and win which we can start worrying about now.'

'A lot of good things have come out of this week and were still very confident in the lead up to the Games, yet we were very scrappy today and it wasn’t an impressive display of racing so there is still a lot of work to be done,' concluded the Star sailor.

Nick Dempsey sealed the bronze medal in the RS:X men’s windsurfing event with the Dutchman Dorian Van Rijsselberge taking the event gold, while Paul Goodison was unable to break into the podium positions in the Laser class with gold going to Australia’s Tom Slingsby.


The women’s match racing trio of Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor lost their quarter final bout with the Aussie trio skippered by Olivia Price, the eventual gold medallist, and finish fifth overall, while In the RS:X Women’s class, Olympic bronze medallist Bryony Shaw finished the medal race in fifth to end her regatta in eighth.

RYA Olympic Manager, Stephen Park, surmised: 'It’s been a successful week to come away with medals in seven Olympic classes and all three of the Paralympic classes, it sets up well to hone in on the performances in the final build up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games and go in confident that we can hit our targets.

'It’s really confirmed our thinking that we are certainly medal competitive in all thirteen of the Olympic and Paralympic classes and that if you make any mistakes then you will be punished. Sailors who have made mistakes generally didn’t medal this week and those that didn’t get on to the podium which is what we expected.'

Skandia Team GBR’s final medal standings at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta:

Gold (4) - Alison Young (Laser Radial), Giles Scott (Finn), John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas (Sonar), Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (SKUD)

Silver (3) - Luke Patience-Stuart Bithell (470 Men), Ben Ainslie (Finn), Helena Lucas (2.4mR)

Bronze (4) - Dylan Fletcher-Alain Sign (49er), Nick Dempsey (RS:X Men), Iain Percy-Andrew Simpson (Star), Hannah Mills-Saskia Clark (470 Women)

Sail for Gold website

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