Miami OCR - Britain’s sailors dominated the 2011 Miami World Cup regatta yesterday, adding 12 medals in the Olympic classes to the two already won by the Paralympic classes on Friday.
The total Skandia Team GBR haul at the end of the Rolex Miami OCR stands at four gold, five silver, and five bronze medals across nine of the 12 events they contested, with GBR sailors claiming a clean sweep of the podium spots in both the Finn and 49er classes.
Giles Scott led the Finn regatta from start to finish, although triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie did his utmost to narrow the gap over his teammate by winning the double-points scoring medal race today. Scott finished fifth to give him overall victory by a point, with silver going to the triple Olympic gold medallist Ainslie, and bronze to fellow Brit Andrew Mills.
'Today’s medal race was pretty tricky,' Scott admitted. 'I had the tack of trying to go after Andrew and Ben just to kind of ruffle them a bit, and I managed to give Ben a penalty turn with about 20 seconds to go.
'Unfortunately that penalty turn forced him out to the right which was the favoured end and he ended up going round first or second and won the race which kind of made things a bit difficult for me.
'But holding on to fifth was what I needed to do and that’s what I did, so I’m massively happy.'
John Pink and Rick Peacock had already assured gold in the 49er event even before the final medal race started, heading into the day with an unassailable 23 point lead. But they were determined not to take their foot off the gas, finishing third in the final race which was won by fellow Brits Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith, who take silver.
'We still went out and tried to do the medal race as well as we could,' Pink explained.
'We quite enjoyed the race, it was pretty exciting – it got quite shifty and gusty, but we thought like most medal races it’s good to go and try and attack them because if you try and defend it never really works out for you. We thought we’d attack it and use as a bit of practice and we did quite well! We picked up third in the medal race so we’re pretty happy.
'It’s good to start the year by winning the first event. We’re looking forward to the rest of the season and trying to keep up the good work!
Dave Evans and Ed Powys took bronze to complete the clean sweep of the medal spots.
There was a shake up in the 470 Men’s event, with series leaders Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell having to settle for bronze after a disappointing medal race in which they finished tenth. Teammates and two-time World Champions Nic Asher and Elliot Willis took gold for Skandia Team GBR with the help of a third place in the final race.
It’s our first World Cup of the year, so it’s great to come away with gold and we’re both really happy with that,' said Willis.
'We’ve sailed well all week and are looking forward to the rest of the year really and just staying consistent and staying healthy.
A resolute Patience said: 'I can’t lie and say that we’re overly happy about losing gold. It’s a disappointment, but it’s still the first World Cup of the year, we sailed an outstanding series leading up to the medal race so we don’t doubt ourselves one bit.'
There was medal success also in the women’s 470 event, where Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes took silver to claim their first podium spot together – and 21-year-old Hughes’s first at a senior event.
The duo missed out on gold by just one point to the French team of Ingrid Petitjean and Nadege Douroux.
'It’s certainly been our goal this year to make our way onto the podium,' explained Clark.
'It’s been knocking on the door for a few regattas now and to finally put a really good series together and then convert it in the medal race means a lot to us.'
2010 was a difficult season for the pair with illness to Clark and injury to Hughes disrupting the key winter training period, so Hughes is pleased that their preparations towards Games selection are back on track.
'It was quite hard last year – expecting things and having not put been able to put the training in place made it quite hard to put it all into practice.
'But we’ve had a good few months under our belt now, we’re feeling good and looking forward to a few more months of training before the European season and the key events this summer kick in.'
Skandia Team GBR took silver in both the men’s and women’s RS:X windsurfing events. Bryony Shaw finished fourth in the medal race to narrow the gap on Spanish gold medallist Marina Alabau, while Nick Dempsey couldn’t quite overcome Dorien van Rijsselberge in the men’s event, finishing fourth to the Dutchman’s fifth in the final race to see him finish two points behind in second overall.
The Laser finale promised to be a tight battle for the medal spots, and it didn’t disappoint. In incredibly shifty conditions, Olympic Champion Paul Goodison ultimately had to settle for bronze behind Swede Rasmus Myrgren and Argentinian Julio Alsogaray, with teammate Nick Thompson in fourth, while Lucy Macgregor, Mary Rook and Kate Macgregor also finished fourth in the women’s match racing event, losing 2-1 to USA’s Sally Barkow.
Paralympians John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas took gold in the Sonar class ion Friday, with bronze going to Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell in the SKUD event.
'It’s been a fantastic start to 2011, particularly bearing in mind that although we sent a strong team, we didn’t field a full team in all event,' said RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park.
'It’s pleasing to see that in this year where we start to look at selection trials for the Games, that lots of sailors are stepping up, are competing strongly and are seeing the fruits of their winters’ training.
'It’s great to see all of our Finn guys doing well again, where we were clearly well ahead of the rest of the fleet this week. A great win for Giles, and good to see Ben up there again but I’m also really pleased for Andrew who’s shown he can’t be discounted.'
Park continued: 'I’m really pleased for Penny and Kat as well. They came so close to winning the regatta, and when you consider only 12 months ago they were at this event and due to Penny’s illness they struggled to complete all the races, it’s good to see them back in the game. The 470 fleet in Miami did have some of the top names missing, but even so, it’s a fantastic way to get some momentum going for 2011.' Skandia Team GBR medallists at the 2011 Rolex Miami OCR
John Robertson-Hannah Stodel-Steve Thomas (Sonar)
John Pink-Rick Peacock (49er)
Nic Asher-Elliot Willis (470 Men)
Giles Scott (Finn)
Penny Clark-Katrina Hughes (470 Women)
Ben Ainslie (Finn)
Paul Brotherton-Mark Asquith (49er)
Bryony Shaw (RS:X Women)
Nick Dempsey (RS:X Men)
Alexandra Rickham-Niki Birrell (SKUD)
Paul Goodison (Laser)
Luke Patience-Stuart Bithell (470 Men)
Andrew Mills (Finn)
Dave Evans-Ed Powys (49er)
Full results here