At the ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca, Giles Scott defended his Finn title, as British sailors claimed a total of five medals on the final day of competition.
Scott’s gold and four bronze medals for fellow British Sailing Team crews from Saturday’s racing bring the British medal tally to seven from this Princess Sofia Trophy, where Helena Lucas and Megan Pascoe started the count with their respective gold and silver medals in the 2.4mR Paralympic class which concluded on Friday.
With this Palma victory, Finn star Scott has remained unbeaten since his full-time return to Olympic campaigning following a stint America’s Cup sailing. But he didn’t have an easy time of things in the final ten-boat race for the heavyweight dinghy class today, picking up two yellow flag penalties for illegally rocking on the downwind legs after an otherwise strong start to the race. Scott got the better of his gold medal rival Thomas Le Breton in a pre-start match race
'I was trying to put him towards the wrong end of the line – it was a pretty biased line towards the starboard end so I engaged him pretty early and didn’t let him tack onto port or gybe onto port to get to the starboard end,' the 26-year-old explained.
'I just held him out to the pin end of the line, left him with about 20 seconds to go and got a good start which enabled me to be on top of him. So that side of things was pretty good.'
'It was super tight towards the finish. I ended the race a little frustrated to be honest – I picked up two yellow flags, which of course I thought were unfair, but I would. The race up until the windward mark I thought I got pretty much spot on.'
For Scott this Palma victory means back to back World Cup golds, having won the previous stage in Miami, in addition to event wins at the Copa Brasil de Vela in Rio in January and at the EUROSAF Champions Cup in La Rochelle in October.
The Portland-based sailor is content with his performance this week, but believes there’s more to come.
'I’m very happy – I can’t complain. I do feel there’s still a lot to work on. I’m pretty happy with where I am on the heavy weather sailing but there are a few little things I need to amend for the lighter stuff I think.
'I’ve sailed very consistently and certainly have had the most consistent series out of anyone in the fleet, which I think is very positive so there’s a lot to build on.'
Andrew Mills won the medal race to finish fourth overall, with fellow Ed Wright eighth in today’s race, and eighth overall.
Chloe Martin had earlier started the day’s medal count for Great Britain, claiming bronze and her first World Cup podium finish in the Laser Radial event.
The Poole sailor saw off Belgium’s Evi Van Acker to secure the third spot of the podium and the best result she could have, with the Netherlands’ Marit Bouwmeester having already secured gold with a day to spare and Finland’s Tuula Tenkanen too far to reach in second.
'It’s my first World Cup medal, so I’m delighted!' Martin enthused.
'Me and my coach Hugh have worked really hard on the boat-handling and the speed side of stuff, so I’ve been really confident going into the races that I had the pace and the boat-handling to go with it. In the pressure moments I was keeping on top of doing all those things so it all went well.
'We’ll see how Hyeres goes – I just need to keep remembering the good things about this week and what I did well and keep trying to replicate them for the next event.'
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark closed off a medal in their first World Cup regatta of the 2016 cycle, securing bronze with a second place in the medal race. The Olympic silver medallists turned back as a precaution at the beginning of Saturday’s double-points 10-boat race, thinking they may have been over the line early, but pulled back through the fleet.
Although Clark is happy with their podium finish, she insists their focus was not solely on the medals at this first major event back for the duo.
'Importantly for us it was just about seeing where we were within the fleet, to see what the fleet had been up to over the winter and where we fitted in with that,' Clark explained.
'I think we’ve come away from here quite happy about the winter programme that we put together and knowing the gains to go forward with in the few months before the big regattas.'
The finals for the 49erFX class comprised three short, sharp single-points ‘stadium’ races to determine the winners, with Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth proving their boat-handling and consistency amid the light winds to take bronze in the women’s skiff event.
The duo placed 4,5,5 in the three races, which saw them round off the podium behind Brazil’s Martine Grael-Kahena Kunze and Denmark’s Ida Marie Nielsen-Marie Thusgaard Olsen.
'We’ve had a really good winter of training but we’ve never been able to get on the podium and had a bit of a disastrous Worlds last summer. At the beginning of the season we wanted to get back on track and prove to ourselves that we could do it,' Ainsworth explained.
'There are certainly plenty of things still on the to do list and a couple more have been added, but it’s nice some progress being made on some fairly big areas we were working on this winter,' added Helensburgh’s Dobson.
'I think to come away with a medal at the first regatta of the season is the icing on the cake and a really good platform to move forward.'
European Champions Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign capped off the day’s spoils with a bronze in the 49er class, which also raced three short single points races for their finale.
Fletcher and Sign got the perfect start to their day, winning the first of the three races, but Sign admits they struggled on the downwind legs of the second two races in the light and shifty breeze.
'It’s more mentally challenging in that stuff. You’ve got to really think on your feet, and try and be a step ahead – a bit like playing chess – and I guess three of four places ahead to where you want to be.
'We had a good first one, but then were just struggling downwind a little bit and were getting rolled by a few boats.
'We were doing all the right things up the beat and threw it all away downwind, so we’ve got a few work-ons before now and Hyeres and hopefully they’ll come through for next time.'
Fellow British sailing team crews Dave Evans-Ed Powys and John Pink-Stuart Bithell were also in 49er medal race action, finishing fifth and seventh overall, while RS:X windsurfers Bryony Shaw and Nick Dempsey end their regattas in fourth and sixth respectively. Lucy Macgregor-Andy Walsh won the Nacra 17 medal race to close off their week in seventh, with Ben Saxton-Hannah Diamond a point ahead of their teammates in sixth.
'We’ve had a full week with very mixed, that certainly served to keep the leaderboards changeable, and leaving some of our sailors wondering what might have been,' commented RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park.
'Despite difficult conditions both for boats and people, and what appeared to be some inconsistencies in race management starting procedures, we’ve come away with reasonable haul of medals and sailors keen to build on this event and looking to upgrade what is a significant number of bronze medals to more shiny ones at the next World Cup in Hyeres which starts in two weeks’ time.
'We’ve had some good highlights this week,' Park continued, 'Including our dominance in the 2.4mR with Helena and Megan. Chloe Martin getting her World Cup medal is a great step forward, as well as good performances under pressure in the medal races from Hannah and Saskia, and excellent display of match racing by Giles Scott. It shouldn’t go unnoticed that Andrew Mills, and Lucy Macgregor and Andy Walsh won their medal races today as well.
'So it’s so far, so good. We’ve had a lot of sailors in the medal zone this week, which we’ll look to build on as the season progresses.' GBR medallists at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca:
Giles Scott (Finn)
Helena Lucas (2.4mR) Silver:
Megan Pascoe (2.4mR) Bronze
Chloe Martin (Laser Radial)
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (470 Women)
Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth (49erFX)
Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign (49er) RYA website