by Lindsey Bell
Delta Lloyd Regatta 2008 - Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes
With strong winds and the gold theirs to lose, Britain's Morrison and Rhodes played a conservative game, opting not to hoist their spinnaker at all during the 49er medal race, as they watched many of their rivals capsize around them when they attempted to. The Beijing-bound duo held on to their overnight lead to take the Gold and to add a second Dutch title to the one they claimed back in 2005.
Britain’s sailors ended the Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik with three medals, with Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes picking up the sole British gold on a breezy final day on Sunday.
The Beijing-bound duo held on to their overnight lead in the 49er skiff class aamid 22 knot winds and choppy waters to add a second Dutch title to the one they claimed back in 2005 – their first ever Grade 1 regatta victory.
They finished the medal race in third place, which handed them the regatta win by 13 points over Spain's Federico and Arturo Alonso, while teammates Dave Evans and Simon Hiscocks won the medal race to finish their regatta in seventh place.
'Five boats capsized at the first mark, and then another two boats went in on the first run so by the time we’d reached the leeward mark only three boats had managed to stay upright,' Morrison recalled.
'We knew we needed to finish no worse than fifth if we were to win, so with all that going on around us it seemed to be the sensible option! It was a question of brains over valour – it didn’t look too cool, but was the right thing to do in the grand scheme of things.'
For the Exmouth pair, crowned World Champions in 2007, their victory was the chance to put behind them recent regatta disappointments where their results suffered following equipment failure.
Ed Wright also picked up Bronze for Skandia Team GBR in the Finn class to add to the bronze won by Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson in the Yngling event on Saturday.
But both Wright and the Tornado pairing of Leigh McMillan and Will Howden were left ruing costly errors which punished them in the final regatta standings.
In the closely-fought Finn medal race, Wright was up against Slovenian Gasper Vincec and Spaniard Rafael Trujillo for gold in the heavyweight dinghy class. In second place heading into the 10-boat double points scoring final, Wright gained the advantage, getting himself ahead of his rivals and into the gold medal position before agonisingly capsizing in the strong winds and choppy waters just 200 metres from the finish line.
'Unforgiveable. First I kept getting the boom caught on my lifejacket, then Dan Slater tried to take me out on the second run, and then I capsized,' said Wright, describing his race, although his bronze in Dutch waters does mean a second straight Grade 1 medal for the 30-year-old, who also won silver at the French Olympic Sailing Week at Hyeres last month.
There was disappointment also for Leigh McMillan and Will Howden, who were even closer to securing a podium finish in the Tornado catamaran class. Storming in towards the medal race finish line in third place – enough to have earned them a silver medal overall – they realised they’d sailed the wrong course, crossing next to the committee boat instead of a different mark which set the end of the finish line for the medal races.
The duo were judged to have not finished the race, thus picking up 22 points to see them end the regatta in fifth overall and out of the medals in spite of an otherwise promising week.
Said Howden afterwards: 'All week it’s been a committee boat finish – we didn’t realise it had changed and coming downwind at that speed and in those conditions it was pretty hard to see.'
Christina Bassadone and Saskia Clark finished fourth in the 470 women’s fleet, making a strong comeback after hitting the leeward mark, but the Dutch duo Marcelien de Koning and Lobke Berkhout sailed solidly to win the medal race and just edge in front of the British pair to claim bronze.
The Laser Radial sailor Penny Clark, and the Star duo of Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson also featured in Sunday’s medal races. Clark, the 33-year-old Royal Navy Officer, finished sixth in the final for the women’s single-handed class to finish the regatta in sixth overall, while Percy and Simpson finished on a high, winning the medal race to end a tough regatta for them in seventh place.
49er - Final leading positions
1 GBR Stephen Morrison Ben Rhodes 77
2 ESP Federico Alonso Tellechea Arturo Alonso Tellechea 90
3 ITA Pietro Sibello Gianfranco Sibello 91
4 ESP Iker Martinez de Lizard Xabier Fernandez 99
5 FRA Julien D'ortoli Noé Delpech 116
6 AUS Nathan Outteridge Ben Austin 121
7 GBR David Evans Simon Hiscocks 125
8 DEN Jonas Warrer Martin Kirketerp 125
9 POR Jorge Lima Francisco Andrade 141
10 FRA Manu Dyen Yann Rocherieux 143
Finn - Final leading positions
1 ESP Rafael Trujillo 29
2 SLO Gasper Vincec 29
3 GBR Edward Wright 34
4 NED Pieter Jan Postma 39
5 CRO Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 41
6 NZL Dan Slater 56
7 POL Rafal Szukiel 67
8 AUS Anthony Nossiter 82
9 AUT Florian Raudaschl 93
10 SWE Kristian Åderman 104