by Lindsey Bell
Mills and Hughes, who this summer claimed the World Junior 470 title and followed that up with silver at the European Juniors, enjoyed a three-race clean sweep at this weekend’s National Ranker, the second of the three-event Series, to sit in pole position in the women’s double-handed dinghy class.
The young Skandia Team GBR duo travelled to Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) with their noses already in front in the 470 Women’s class having finished fifth overall, and the top British pair, at the first National Ranker staged concurrently with the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta last month.
And their success this weekend, winning all three of Sunday’s races after Saturday’s schedule was canned due to heavy winds, consolidated their lead going into the third and final event at WPNSA on 18-19 October, when the overall 2008 RYA Olympic Classes National Ranking Series winners will be decided.
Ali Masters also sits in a strong position to claim the RS:X 8.5 title (for women and Youth sailors) having romped to three straight bullets on Sunday. The 16-year-old Masters’ top Brit finish at Sail for Gold combined with his latest event victory makes him hot favourite for the 8.5 National Ranking Series crown.
Also claiming three straight wins this weekend was Andrew Mills in the Finn, setting up a tense showdown with Giles Scott for the National Ranker class title in a fortnight.
With Scott having edged an advantage at Sail for Gold, winning the regatta with Mills in second, the tables were turned in round two with World Under 21 champion Scott settling for second spot behind his Skandia Team GBR teammate putting them neck and neck going into the Series decider.
Paul Campbell-James and Mark Asquith were also triple winners in the 49er class at WPNSA, winning Ranker 2 from Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign with Dave Evans and Simon Hiscocks in third.
Richard Hamilton finished at the head of the RS:X 9.5 fleet courtesy of two races wins and a second with Elliott Carney trailing just a point behind.
Meanwhile, James Rusden and Daniel Schieber also won the 470 Men’s event by a sole point from Chris Grube and Luke Patience, Rusden and Schieber claiming two seconds and a first to Grube and Patience’s two bullets and a fourth.
The RYA National Ranking Series is designed to provide opportunities for aspiring Olympians and all UK Olympic Classes sailors to race against world class performers - final weekend is at WPNSA on 18-19 October.