With just over 100 days to go to the London 2012 Olympic Games, four of Great Britain’s sailing crews struck gold at the final event in the 2012 RYA Olympic Classes Spring Series, which drew to a close on the Olympic waters of Weymouth and Portland over 14-15 April.
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clarke in action
Triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie, bronze medallist Bryony Shaw and the 2012-selected 470 crews of Luke Patience/Stuart Bithell and Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark confirmed their dominance on the home waters of 2012 as they topped the tables at the end of the two-day domestic Spring Series event, which provides home-grown talents in the Olympic classes the chance to race against regular Olympic classes competitors and some of Skandia Team GBR’s top performers.
With four races on the Saturday in a cold, easterly 10-12 knots and two on the Sunday in a stronger 12-16 knots of breeze, Ben Ainslie was pushed hard by Skandia Team GBR team mates Andrew Mills and Mark Andrews. After claiming gold at the recent Princess Sofia World Cup regatta in emphatic style, Ainslie remained true to form and closed out the final days races to win the heavyweight Finn fleet.
Peter McCoy finished in fourth, claiming the overall Spring Series crown in the Finn class after posting impressive results in the first event back in March (10-11 March).
In the 470 Men’s fleet, Luke Patience/ Stuart Bithell notched up four race wins and a second to claim the regatta victory and overall event honours ahead of Ben Saxton/Richard Mason, who provided GBR’s representatives at the 2012 Games with a tough battle securing two bullets to finish three points behind in second.
Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark demonstrated their resilience after a disappointing tenth place at the Princess Sofia Trophy with a consistent set of scores across the six races to finish the weekend top of the female fleet and overall event winners. Skandia Team GBR Transitional Squad sailors Amy Seabright/Eilidh Mcintyre and Joanna Freeman/Katie Tomsett finished the weekend in second and third respectively, while Development Squad sailors Sophie Weguelin/Sophie Ainsworth finished runners up in the overall Spring Series standings after finishing fourth this weekend.
Meanwhile, Bryony Shaw wrapped up the weekend victory finishing top of the RS:X 8.5 fleet. Hot on her heels was Stuart Hards, recent silver medallist at the RYA Volvo Youth National Championships 2012, who finished three points off top spot. The overall Spring Series crown went to the recently crowned RYA Volvo Youth National Champion Kieran Martin, while Stuart Hards claimed second and Izzy Hamilton, who finished the weekend’s regatta in fifth, secured her place on the podium in third overall.
Sam Sills was dominant on the larger RS:X 9.5 windsurfer as he secured two race wins on the Saturday followed by a race win and a second on the Sunday to top the leader board at WPNSA. Connor Bainbridge secured second while Ali Masters rounded the weekend off in third clinching the Spring Series crown.
In the 49er class, James Peters/Ed Fitzgerald were unstoppable once again as the pair added five bullets to the six they posted back in March to comfortably be crowned 2012 Spring Series Champions for the second consecutive year running. Henry Lloyd Williams/Sam Batten and Dan Henderson/ George Hand lay second and third, mirroring the overall Spring Series standings.
In the Paralympic classes, Megan Pascoe was lethal in the 2.4mR posting five bullets to clinch event honours ahead of Martin Whittingham-Jones in second and Steve Bullmore in third. The Skandia Team GBR sailor was also crowned Spring Series champion for her weekends efforts.
The SKUD class welcomed the same three competitors from the first-leg of the Series with Alex Hovden/Curtis French continuing their fine form taking all six race wins in spectacular style to be crowned Spring Series winners.
Skandia Team GBR Development Squad Manager, Barrie Edgington, commented: 'This weekend provided some great racing across the six Olympic and Paralympic classes in what were some very fresh and challenging conditions in Weymouth Bay. In addition to deciding the RYA Olympic Classes Spring Series winners, this weekend will also decide who gets the grants to the major summer and autumn ISAF World Cup events and class championships.
'It was great to have four of the 2012 Olympic crews competing as it gives the young sailors who are making the transition into Olympic boats the opportunity to learn and rub shoulders with some of the world’s best sailors,'concluded Edgington.
2012 RYA Olympic Classes Spring Series – WPNSA – 14-15 April, 2012:
1st Ben Ainslie
2nd Andrew Mills
3rd Mark Andrews
1st Luke Patience/Stuart Bithell
2nd Ben Saxton/Richard Mason
3rd Mike Wood/Hugh Brayshaw
1st Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark
2nd Sophie Weguelin/Sophie Ainsworth
3rd Jo Freeman/Katie Tomsett
1st James Peters/Ed Fitzgerald
2nd Henry Lloyd Williams/Sam Batten
3rd Dan Henderson/George Hand
1st Bryony Shaw
2nd Stuart Hards
3rd Kieran Martin
1st Sam Sills
2nd Connor Bainbridge
3rd Ali Masters
1st Megan Pascoe
2nd Martin Whittingham-Jones
3rd Steve Bullmore
1st Alex Hovden/Curtis French
2nd Judith Figgures/Bruce Dudley
3rd Dave Durston/Christine Spray
Overall 2012 RYA Olympic Classes Spring Series Winners:
1. Pete McCoy
1. Luke Patience/Stuart Bithell
1. Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark
1. James Peters/Ed Fitzgerald
1. Kieran Martin
1. Ali Masters
1. Megan Pascoe
1. Alex Hovden/Curtis French