Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia Mapre, the first European World Cup of the season, concluded in Palma, Spain today. Paul Goodison and the Star duo of Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson added to the British medal haul on the final day to keep GBR at the top of the medal table.
The reigning Olympic Champions in the Laser and Star classes both clinched silver medals on a breezy medal race day, adding to the gold which Ben Ainslie won with a day to spare, and Helena Lucas’s silver from the last day of 2.4mR racing on Friday.
Palma Bay laid on perfect conditions of sunshine, waves and 16-20 knot winds for the sixth and final day for the eight competing Olympic classes.
Paul Goodison claimed the first medal of the day for Skandia Team GBR in the Laser. Trailing the German Simon Grotelueschen by seven points heading into the final 10-boat race, Goodison had to try and get three boats between himself and the series leader to have a chance of gold but Grotelueschen got ahead of him early on the first beat and managed to hold on for the remainder of the race.
'He just got across me on the first cross and from there he did a pretty good job of tacking on me and just keeping me behind him so it was a little bit tricky,' Goodison explained. 'Fortunately I managed to do enough to keep hold of silver.
'Looking back, it’s been a pretty good week here, some good improvements, a bit of frustration with an OCS from a race I won earlier in the week. That could have changed things quite dramatically but we’re all pretty happy.
'It was good to go to Miami and win there but obviously the fleet is a bit stronger here and I kept my main rivals behind me again,' he continued. 'I think the winter training has all been paying off and I’m looking forward to now going back to Weymouth and training where it really matters.'
Percy and Simpson missed out on Star class by the narrowest of margins to Brazil’s Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada. Just twelve points separated the top seven boats heading into Saturday’s finale, leading to a tense battle for the medals and with Percy and Simpson poised just outside of the top three spots going into the day.
The British duo fought hard to finished the medal race in second, but overnight leaders Scheidt and Prada crossed in fourth and did just enough to keep hold of gold by one point.
'You never like to lose, not by a point and not when the last wave cost us the regatta, but it’s fine,' Percy remarked.
'It’s the first event of the season, and I think winning would have been flattering of where we are at – we’ve got a lot of work to do and losing the regatta helps you realise that and I think at this time of the year that’s important.
'Last year we won this event really quite comfortably, and in some ways I look back and I think it made us maybe think we were a little bit ahead of where we were. This year it’s been drummed in pretty hard with some schoolboy errors. We’ve got some work to do.'
The event was Percy and Simpson’s first since the Perth World Championships where they were forced to withdraw when leading the regatta when Percy sustained a back injury. The 35-year-old is buoyed that his winter rehabilitation has stood him in good stead this week.
'I have in general felt fine – we had a little bit of breeze yesterday for a couple of races and felt fine. That’s actually a real positive to take from the week that I feel great now after that sail.'
Elsewhere in Saturday’s medal race action, Andrew Mills sailed an impressive medal race in the Finn class to win the race, and miss out on bronze by just one point to Canada’s Christopher Cook. Ainslie, already with gold in the bag, crossed the line second behind his teammate, only to have been one of five boats judged to have been over the startline early. He finishes his regatta 17 points ahead of the American silver medallist Zach Railey.
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark also suffered a similar fate in the 470 women’s race. Out of medal contention heading into the day, they were hopeful of a solid finish to their regatta. The world silver medallists crossed the line first in their final, but were deemed to have been over the line early so were unable to improve on their tenth place. Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth ended their event in fifth, with a seventh in the medal race.
In the 49er class, John Pink and Rick Peacock ended the regatta as the highest-placed Skandia Team GBR pairing, in fourth overall. Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes won the 49er medal race, to boost their standings to seventh, with Dave Evans and Ed Powys in sixth, while in the Laser Radial class, Charlotte Dobson was sixth and Alison Young tenth after finishing their medal races in fifth and tenth respectively.
'It’s pleasing to be top nation here at the first European World Cup of the season. Ben’s performance was clearly sensational, but it hasn’t been plain sailing for any of our sailors this week,' said RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park of his charges’ performances.
'We’ve seen over the last few years that our international competition is getting tougher, and I’d say this is the first regatta where a few things have not gone our way – especially at the beginning of the week – for some of our selected Olympians.
'There are nine competing classes here, and nine different countries won the gold medals which reflects that increasing competition and serves as a reminder that no-one can rest on their laurels.'
Park continued: 'On a more positive note, it’s been good to see that after a disappointing first three days of the regatta for a number of our teams, they maintained their composure and put together a good series for the second half of the event.
Skandia Team GBR website
by Lindsey Bell
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3:22 PM Sat 7 Apr 2012GMT
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