The second day at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta was a challenging one with non-stop rain, shifts in wind and very poor visibility across the race courses in Weymouth and Portland.
Both Hannah Mills-Saskia Clark and Dave Evans-Ed Powys retained their top spots for a second day in the 470 and 49er fleets respectively, Ben Ainslie leads the Finn class while Giles Scott and Alexandra Rickham-Niki Birrell found great form with three race wins apiece in the Finn and SKUD events.
The 24-year-old Scott, who is racing in his first ISAF World Cup event of the year, posted three firsts in what was a pretty impressive day on the water in some not so pretty conditions for the 2012 Finn UK National Champion.
'It was a good day today, can’t complain really - three bullets is pretty alright,' stated Scott.
'I kind of needed it after yesterday, I had a bit of a shocker with a 21 and was in shut down mode so it was good to come out today and do alright. It’s my first event on the ISAF World Cup circuit so was a little rusty yesterday (Monday) and at times today but fortunately for me I was pretty quick enabling me to pick up some good scores.'
With more breeze expected across the course of the week, hiking will no doubt be a key ingredient for the Skandia Team GBR Finn sailor: 'I got a little bit of cramp in the third race today due to the hiking which was needed but I’m sure I’ll be raring to go tomorrow - I’m looking forward to another breezy day here in Weymouth.'
Scott currently sits in third for his efforts today, but it’s Olympic and World Champion Ben Ainslie who tops the Finn fleet, after posting a consistent 5,2,3. Andrew Mills is fifth with Mark Andrews just outside the top ten in 11th.
470 World Champions Mills-Clark once again shrugged off competition from their closest rivals to extend their lead at the top of the 470 leaderboard. The duo sit four points ahead of second place Lecointre-Geron (FRA) after 7-3.
'It was a tricky day out there today, quite patchy with some big gains and losses going on with us not really knowing why. We didn’t have a great start in either race, both very safe starts but had good speed throughout which was essential in pulling back up through the fleet,' said Clark.
'We found it a little hard to find our downwind mode which normally comes quite easily and we normally really enjoy that in these wavy conditions but that wasn’t working great for us today so it was a definite scrap!'
Having won the 470 World Championships in Barcelona only a few weeks ago, Mills and Clark are certainly not fazed by the weather in Weymouth: 'It’s certainly different to Barcelona where we won the Worlds – the weather is just so miserable here this week! It’s great racing though, good to have some strong breeze and its always useful to race in a variety of conditions.'
'We’re still pretty calm and want to do as well as we can – yes the podium is in sight but the key for us at this regatta is to pick out the learning points for our next training block before the big one in August!'
Being in the 470 together for 17 months, Clark confirms the strength of the relationship between her and her helm Hannah Mills: 'She’s an absolute legend,' laughed Clark. 'I think our progression over the last few months is because we have dissected all of our communication from last season and have started putting it back together and it’s now really starting to work and come together which is key in the 470.'
In the men’s 470 fleet, Skandia Team GBR’s Patience-Bithell had another solid day adding a 3-2 to their scorecard to move them up to fifth overall.
'A great day for us today,' enthused Patience. 'Stuart and I absolutely love these conditions coming from Scotland, wet windy and rain – what more could you ask for!'
'It’s only day two so we can’t get carried away, our main goal coming into this regatta was to learn all we can about the venue and our performance so it will be an added bonus to end up on the podium come the end of the week. We will go away and evaluate everything we can from this regatta, making sure everything is in place in time for the Games in August.'
Patience concluded: 'If the conditions are like this come the Olympics– it will suit us down to the ground, being Brits were used to this so it’s no big deal, however come rain or shine we will certainly be ready to go and win that gold medal in two months’ time.'
Evans-Powys are in the driving seat in the high performance skiff division with a 3,1,5, sitting comfortably at the top of the leaderboard with a 14 point cushion over Aussie competitors Outteridge/Jenson. Fletcher and Sign are fourth overall with a 6,4,6 from their three races today, with Morrison-Rhodes in seventh after picking up a black flag in their second race of the day.
Ali Young, who will represent Team GB in Laser Radial in August, added two consistent scores to her card today elevating herself from 14th to sixth overall with a 2-5. Charlotte Dobson remains in 13th after 11,9.
'I had a fairly solid day, I could have done a little better as there were a few little silly mistakes in there but I’ll take the lessons I learned from today into the rest of the week. I think I’m continually improving, there’s 50-plus days to go to the Olympic Games so it’s just key for me to keep learning the lessons, to keep improving and to get at result at the Games in August.
'It was a great confidence boost being selected but I’m here this week so aim to get on with the job and to keep moving forwards,' said Young.
Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson have an overall position of fifth to show for their three races posting scores of 3,1,7 in the Star class, while Paul Goodison sits 11th in the Laser fleet. Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor for the second consecutive day won three out of their four round robin races in the Elliot 6m women’s match racing event and are joint leaders of the round robin group.
Meanwhile on the RS:X racecourse, Bryony Shaw suffered kit failure due to a snapped mast extension in race one. The Olympic bronze medallist however went on to score a fifth in her only race of the day, leading British men’s windsurfer Nick Dempsey has improved from third to second with 1,7 from his two races, while Elliot Carney is 12th.
In the Paralympic fleets, Skandia Team GBR’s Alexandra Rickham-Niki Birrell are leading the charge in the SKUD class following three impressive bullets. John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas bounced back from a disappointing first day with 3,1,5 to move them up to fifth overall in the Sonar, while in the 2.4mR event, Helena Lucas is third and Megan Pascoe fourth.
John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas, Sonar. - Richard Langdon
Racing at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta continues tomorrow (Wednesday 6 June) with the 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
Skandia Sail for Gold website
by Matt Carter
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7:21 PM Tue 5 Jun 2012GMT
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2011-12 ISAF Sailing World Cup
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