by Lindsey Bell
Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta 2012 is being held from 4th to 9th June in Weymouth and Portland. The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing venue will get a final run through its paces this week, as over 700 of the world’s top sailors prepare to race.
Bryony Shaw – RS:X Women - Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta 2012
The event – the penultimate leg of the ISAF Sailing World Cup series – will see 65 Skandia Team GBR sailors competing across the 10 Olympic and three Paralympic classes, and is a must for all those with medal-winning aspirations in Weymouth and Portland this summer, with British team manager Stephen Park expecting his charges to face tough competition on their home waters.
'Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta is going to be one of, if not the most competitive ISAF World Cup regatta this year,' said Park, the RYA’s Olympic Manager
'Naturally we would expect that all of the competitors who’ll be taking part in the Games will be racing here. We know that a number of countries will be using this event as their final selection event for sailors for their teams. Indeed many countries will have already selected and they’ll be using the event for their sailors to hone their performances – from a GBR perspective, we’ll be doing likewise.'
Skandia Team GBR’s World Champions Ben Ainslie, Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, and Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell are expected to be among the ones to watch in their respective Finn, 470 and Paralympic SKUD events, while windsurfer Nick Dempsey and the Paralympic Sonar trio of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas will be keen to defend the titles they won at the 2011 edition of the event.
Bryony Shaw, Paul Goodison, the 49er and 470 men’s teams of Stevie Morrison-Ben Rhodes and Luke Patience-Stuart Bithell and the Women’s Match Racing trio of Lucy Macgregor-Annie Lush-Kate Macgregor all have proven track records in the Olympic venue, having won medals at previous editions of their home World Cup event or at the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta – the official London 2012 test event last August.
For leading British windsurfer Shaw, 29, who won bronze in Beijing and at the 2011 edition of the event, the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta is just the second regatta she’ll have competed at this year, in addition to her fourth place at the RS:X World Championships, and she’s eager to get racing again.
'It’s exciting – normally I would do more regattas as I have in previously years so I‘m almost like a jack in the box – a coiled spring – ready to get out there and perform again and really get everything fired up as a bit of a dress rehearsal for the Games,' she enthused.
'With the smaller fleets it will be much more like it is at the Games and those who are really putting in that final push for this summer. It will be good to see who’s in shape and who you think you might be able to really look at and get the jump on.
'The racing for a small fleet compared to a large fleet is very different – the style of racing, and how you choose your strategy – so it should be really good practice,'
'Skandia Team GBR will use this regatta for many of our Olympic representatives to have a final practice in the venue, for them to go through some of the routines that we’ll expect to carry out during Games-time both on and off the water,' echoed team manager Park.
'Really we’ll use it as an opportunity to test processes, to observe our own performance and think about those final tweaks and optimise any performance gains that we might be able to deliver come Games-time.
'Whatever the outcome this week, we won’t be getting carried away. We’re focussed on the end game of the Olympic Games, so it will be a case of taking on board any lessons, continuing to build where we need to and consolidate where we need to, so that by the time 29 July comes around we’ll be hitting the startline at pace.'
Racing at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta kicks off on Monday 4 June with Paralympic classes (2.4mR, SKUD and Sonar) finishing on Friday 8 June and medal races for the 10 Olympic Classes scheduled for Saturday 9 June.
Skandia Team GBR website