At the ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca, Helena Lucas and Megan Pascoe picked up Britain’s first medals on Friday (4 April), claiming the two top steps of the podium in the 2.4mR class on the penultimate day of the event.
The Paralympic Champion Lucas added Palma gold to her Miami World Cup bronze from February to ensure a lucrative start to her 2014 season, with Pascoe also continuing her early season form by taking silver behind her teammate having edged out Lucas to take Miami victory.
Lucas had taken an impressive scoreline, with a worst race result of second, into Friday’s final three-race day for the Paralympic fleet.
But the London 2012 gold medallist admitted to giving herself a bit of a scare when she opened her day with an uncharacteristic 11th out of 16 boats amid shifty light wind conditions in the first race.
'The first race was a complete nightmare. We were really close to the shore and the wind died – there were some crazy shifts going on and I was just relieved when that race was over!' confessed the 38-year-old.
'It was one of those painful races where whatever I did was wrong!' Lucas managed to regroup for the final two races, finishing third in both to close out the event victory by three points over Pascoe, with Norway’s Erikstad winning all three races on Friday to claim bronze.
'It’s been one of those days where it felt like everything was stacked against you a little bit, but it was a solid third in the other two races.
'I knew I just needed to kind of keep in solid and finish inside the top three in both of those races and it would all be fine, but it was definitely a tricky day!'
Pascoe took the day’s conditions in her stride to finish second in all three races behind Erikstad, and was also buoyed by her second World Cup podium finish of the season. 'It was a tougher event [than Miami]. Helena was sailing well and so was Bjornar, so it was very close but I’m generally happy with the way it’s going.
'It was shifty stuff today,' Pascoe continued. 'It was more the condition that I go very well in – a bit more like inland pond sailing conditions which I grew up with. Bjornar was going well today – he was tacking in the right places, but I got round a couple of the windward marks first so I’m happy.
'Both Helena and Bjornar have gone to the Games a number of times now, and we have quite a few Worlds medals between us so it’s nice to have good competition every time we come racing on the World Cup circuit.'
Saturday will see the conclusion of this 2014 Princess Sofia Trophy, with 15 British boats qualifying for the final 10-boat medal races for each of the 10 Olympic Classes.
No racing was possible for the Finn fleet on Friday with light winds blighting any prospect of completing their schedule, so Giles Scott will head into the final medal race in pole position.
The 2011 World and European Champion has an eight-point lead over Frenchman Thomas Le Breton, while fellow British sailors Andrew Mills and Ed Wright have also made the 10-boat cut in sixth and tenth places respectively.
Three British boats will also feature in the three-race 49er finale on Saturday, with Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign heading into the day in overall third. John Pink and Stuart Bithell enjoyed a race win and a third from their three races to qualify in sixth place, with teammates Dave Evans and Ed Powys just one point behind them in seventh.
The 49er and 49erFX fleets will race three short, single-points scoring races to determine their winners tomorrow.
The British Sailing Team’s Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth are in contention in the 49erFX event, picking up a race win among their three races today to place them in overall third.
Olympic silver medallists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark will battle it out for bronze in the 470 women’s event. They’re poised in third overall, with France’s Camille Lecointre-Helene Defrance and Kiwi World and Olympic Champions Jo Aleh-Olivia Powrie set to duel for the gold as the two boats enjoy an unassailable lead over the rest of the fleet heading into the final day.
French windsurfer Charline Picon already has gold in the bag in the RS:X women’s event, but the British Sailing Team’s Bryony Shaw will be one of four sailors fighting it out for the remaining two podium spots on Saturday. The world silver medallist and Miami World Cup winner will start the day in fourth, as will Chloe Martin in the Laser Radial event who’ll fight it out for bronze with Belgium’s Evi Van Acker.
There’ll be a tight battle for bronze in the Nacra 17 event as well, with Britain’s world silver medallist Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond in that mix, while Lucy Macgregor and Andy Walsh ensured a second British berth in the final day’s double-points medal race for the multihulls.
2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca - Luke PATIENCE and Elliot WILLIS - Thom Touw
The new pairing of Luke Patience and Elliot Willis have qualified for their first World Cup medal race together in the 470 men’s event, although a painfully light-wind finish to their final race on Friday saw them lose touch of the podium spots. They head into the final race in seventh.
Nick Dempsey will also be in final day action in the men’s RS:X event, but there was disappointment on Friday night for Laser sailor Nick Thompson, who ended the day in 10th position in the medal race spots, but late evening results changes following protests saw him drop to 12th and out of contention. Medal race schedule for Saturday 5 April (times are local):
1120 – 49erFX (Three races)
1220 – 49er (Three races)
1110 – 470 Women
1150 – 470 Men
1230 – Finn
1310 – Nacra 17
1100 – Laser Radial
1140 – Laser
1220 – RS:X Women
1300 – RS:X Men British Sailing Team RYA website