by Lindsey Bell
470 class in action at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta
Skandia Team GBR’s top Olympic and Olympic hopefuls are to battle it out once more on 2012 waters at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, at the second of three 2008 RYA Olympic Classes National Ranking Series events this weekend, 4-5 October.
The Series, designed to provide opportunities for aspiring Olympians and all UK Olympic Classes sailors to race against world class performers, kicked off at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta at WPNSA two weeks ago.
Beijing Olympic 49er duo Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes took an early Series lead at the opening event, finishing the regatta with an 18 point advantage over Dave Evans and Simon Hiscocks, while World and European Champions Nic Asher and Elliott Willis gained the advantage in the 470 men’s event, with Luke Patience and Chris Grube their nearest rivals in the Series standings.
But as well as Skandia Team GBR’s top performers, many of the nation’s most promising young Olympic Classes sailors will be look to make their mark on the next Olympic race track.
Finn Junior World Champion Giles Scott proved that he’s comfortable competing at the 2012 venue, with victory at the Skandia Sail for Gold event giving him the early Series lead in the heavyweight dinghy class, while Junior World 470 champions Hannah Mills and Katrina Hughes have their noses in front in the women’s doubled-handed dinghy fleet, finishing fifth overall and as the top British pair a fortnight ago.
In the windsurfing events, Nick Dempsey heads the Series leaderboard in the RS:X 9.5 fleet, while RYA Team GBR youth squad sailor Ali Masters currently tops the RS:X 8.5 division (for women and youth sailors) with Olympic bronze medallist Bryony Shaw in second.
'The RYA Olympic Classes National Ranking Series is well established as providing good end-of-season competition for all levels of Olympic Classes sailors, be they weekend enthusiasts, up and coming young squad sailors, or our podium-topping performers,' explained Barrie Edgington, RYA Olympic Development Squad Manager.
'It was especially pleasing to see the number of young sailors challenging our seasoned performers at the opening event, the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, two weeks ago.'
The overall 2008 RYA Olympic Classes National Ranking Series winners will be decided at the final Series event at WPNSA on 18-19 October.