by Lindsey Bell
British sailors concluded the Miami World Cup regatta, the second stage of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, with eight medals.
Paul Goodison - Laser - Miami OCR 2012
Nick Dempsey, Paul Goodison and the women’s match racing trio of Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor won Gold, with podium spots also going to some of GBR’s developing stars.
Finals day at the Rolex Miami OCR proved a lucrative one for Skandia Team GBR with six more medals claimed by British crews in four of the Olympic classes.
The first gold medal of the day went to the World Championship silver medallists Macgregor, Lush and Macgregor in their women’s match racing final against Australia’s Olivia Price. In contrast to their quarter and semi-final bouts, the British crew took an early lead, winning the first match by a minute before pulling two ahead in the light and difficult conditions.
Price then fought back to claim the third match and looked set to draw level in the fourth after gaining a large lead on Macgregor’s team, as crew Annie Lush explained.
'In the final race in particular we were leading and then we picked up some weed around our keel which really slowed us down – the Australians managed to get about half a leg ahead of us.
'I think Olivia then picked up some weed as well so we were able to catch up a bit, but then she got stopped by some big chop from all the boats that were around and so we were able to overtake her to get the win,' Lush continued.
'We had some pretty crazy racing today, that’s for sure!'
The trio’s last World Cup victory came in Hyeres, France, in April last year, and they’re delighted to have got the Olympic year off to a podium-topping start in Miami.
'It’s a great start to 2012 for us – it doesn’t feel like we’ve sailed particularly well this week but we held it together, pulled off some great results along the way and we’ve learned a huge amount which we’ll take forward into our winter training,' said the 31-year-old Lush.
'You can see from the results this week just how tight the fleet has become – everyone is pushing hard so there’s plenty of hard work still ahead of us.'
It was a straight head-to-head between Britain’s Olympic Champion Paul Goodison and Brazil’s Bruno Fontes – whichever of them finished higher in the medal race would claim the gold.
Mastering the light wind racing, Goodison ground out a second in the medal race to Fontes’ fifth, handing him the gold – his second in two weeks in the States after he claiming victory at Key West on the Melges 32 ‘Red’.
'It’s been nice to come and do Miami – it wasn’t originally in the plan to come and do this event but after a really good week last week sailing in Key West it made sense to stop by here and work on some of the things I need to before the Games,' Goodison explained.
'There are only I think three regattas that I’ll do left before the Olympics, so it’s good to be working on the things that I need to and to be improving on the things that I’ve set out to do.'
'I had some good training in Perth, I’ve done some good work this week and I’m feeling confident looking forward.'
After a postponement to their scheduled morning start due to the light winds, the men’s RS:X medal race finally got underway early afternoon, with Nick Dempsey heading into the race with an almost unassailable 18 point lead.
With a scorecard counting only first places, Dempsey clinched his gold in style with another race win to round off the regatta. After a difficult and disappointing World Championship in Perth, Dempsey was pleased to have found form this week.
'It’s quite nice [to win a World Cup] isn’t it – getting all firsts this week was pretty good so I’m very happy.
'It’s definitely all going to plan and it’s all on track. It was needed, the result at this event, and I’m really looking forward to the next few months.'
Nick Dempsey (RS:X Men) - Miami OCR 2012
Dempsey’s training partner Elliot Carney also made it a British 1-2 and his first World Cup regatta medal when he claimed silver after a hard-fought medal race.
The 22-year-old went into the 10-boat finale in second place but with the possibility of dropping out of the medals, but he fought to the end in the painfully light conditions to finish second in the race and retain the silver medal spot.
Carney said of his regatta: 'I made it pretty hard for myself all week with some stupid mistakes at times, and then extremely hard in that last medal race but apart from that I’m really happy!
'I think [this medal] is definitely a turning point after the result I had at the Worlds, and now with the result here it’s starting to look good for the future so hopefully I can carry this on.'
Carney’s fellow development squad sailors Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth also claimed their first World Cup regatta success, joining Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark on the 470 women’s podium.
Mills and Clark continued their medal-winning run with a silver to add to their growing collection, while Weguelin and Ainsworth picked up bronze thanks to an impressive win in the medal race on Saturday.
Weguelin and Ainsworth are part of Mills and Clark’s training group in their quest for 2012 gold and are relishing the experience.
'Hopefully the bronze here is the start of things to come,' said Weguelin. 'It’s going to be quite a tough year this year, building up to the Games but we’ll just get as much experience as possible. I think working with Hannah and Sas will be a fantastic learning opportunity for us, they’re really great sailors and we’ve got loads to gain but hopefully we’ll be able to give a bit as well and push them along.'
Mills and Clark were satisfied with their silver, but frustrated that their chances of going one step higher on the podium had slipped away on Friday.
'We’re happy to come away with a silver today,' said Mills. 'It was quite a tough medal race being really light conditions and pretty random so anything could have happened. We sailed the race how we wanted to sail it which was nice, but it always feels a bit disappointing when we really felt like we threw the gold medal away yesterday.'
'We just sailed really badly [yesterday]. Our communication wasn’t great and we just did exactly the opposite to what we’d decided we were going to do so that was a bit frustrating, but onwards and upwards.
'I think it’s always good to keep the momentum going and keep the medals coming in, regardless of whether it’s an outcome regatta or a process regatta, so it’s a good start to 2012. Even though right now we feel a little bit down in the long run it’s a good performance today in the medal race,' she concluded.
Skandia Team GBR sailors also featured in the Laser Radial final, where Alison Young and Charlotte Dobson ended their regatta just outside of the podium spots in fourth and fifth respectively, while development squad duo Ben Saxton and Richard Mason finished ninth in the 470 men’s event.
Two silver medals were secured by the SKUD and Sonar Paralympic teams on Friday.
Skandia Team GBR’s Miami medals:
Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush & Kate Macgregor (Women’s Match Racing)
Paul Goodison (Laser)
Nick Dempsey (RS:X Men)
Alexandra Rickham & Niki Birrell (SKUD)
John Robertson, Hannah Stodel & Steve Thomas (Sonar)
Elliot Carney (RS:X Men)
Hannah Mills & Saskia Clark (470 Women)
Sophie Weguelin & Sophie Ainsworth (470 Women)
Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush, Kate Macgregor (Women’s Match Racing) - Miami OCR 2012
Skandia Team GBR British Sailing Team website