ISAF Sailing World Cup - Paralympic hopeful Megan Pascoe and the Star duo of Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson secured Britain’s first medals of the ISAF Sailing World Cup event in Palma on Friday (8 April).
Pascoe claimed bronze for Skandia Team GBR on the final day of racing in the 2.4mR Paralympic class, while Percy and Simpson, the Olympic and World Champions, amassed an unassailable 27 point lead going into tomorrow’s final 10-boat medal race in the men’s keelboat event.
A total of fifteen British boats will compete across seven classes on the final day of this Princess Sofia Trophy – the third leg of the 2011 World Cup series
The 2.4mR – the only one of the three Paralympic classes to race in Palma – concluded their regatta on Friday, with the 24-year-old Pascoe sailing a consistent series to claim her first podium finish of the year.
'It’s always nice to come away with a World Cup medal – it would have been nice to have a different colour but I did my best with what I had on the last day,' she explained, adding that a podium finish at the first event of the European season is a welcome confidence boost in a year where thoughts turn to Paralympic selection.
'I’m really happy with the medal, and to be top Brit as well,' Pascoe continued. 'Me and Helena work well together and we’ve got this pact where we’ll do our best to get a Paralympic medal, whichever one of us is selected to compete there. It’s nice this early on in the season to be top Brit, and hopefully I can hold on to it later in the year.'
Time away from the racecourse appears to not have harmed Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson, who are already assured gold a day ahead of time in the Star class. Their 27 point lead cannot be overturned, so they’ll leave Palma with a welcome World Cup event victory as they start their 2012 campaign in earnest.
'We’ve had a good week and things have gone well but it was kind of one of those times where things worked out and some of our rivals didn’t have good weeks,' Percy admitted.
'The result shows us to be a little bit further ahead than maybe we are, but still we’re really happy. It’s nice to win an event after such a long time away.
The 35-year-old continued: 'We didn’t actually feel particularly quick this week. We’re normally pretty fast and upwind certainly we weren’t that quick so we’ve got to work on that a lot to try and get faster.
'You can sail well here and there, but one thing’s for sure you have to be fast in this game and we weren’t quite there this week. There’s a little bit of work still to be done.'
A sixth race win of the series so far has extended Ben Ainslie’s lead in the Finn class to 14 points over nearest rival Giles Scott going into the double-points scoring medal race on Saturday. The triple Olympic Champion is assured of silver but will look to close out his first event win of the year with a dominant display in the medal race.
'We’ll see how I get on tomorrow,' said Ainslie. 'The medal races are always tight, it’s obviously double points so I’ve got to go out and sail another good race and hopefully I can do that and make it all count.'
World Champion Ed Wright will be the third British boat to feature in the Finn medal race – he’ll start the day in seventh place.
The Laser class will see a fascinating showdown between the Australian World Champion Tom Slingsby, and Skandia Team GBR’s Paul Goodison, the Olympic Champion, and Nick Thompson who are all effectively tied going into the final race. With no other contenders within reach of the podium spots, their finishing positions on the water tomorrow will determine the colours of their respective medals.
Nick Dempsey drew closer to the series leader, Dutchman Dorien van Rijsselberge, in the men’s RS:X windsurfing event and will look to overcome a six point gap in the double-points scoring race tomorrow, while the 470 women’s pairing of Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes will push for their second straight World Cup podium finish. They’re fourth going into the final day, six points away from bronze, while development squad duo Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth also make the medal race cut in ninth place.
In the 470 men’s event Luke Patience-Stuart Bithell and Nic Asher-Elliot Willis are poised in fourth and fifth place with a chance of making the medal spots, while in the 49er class Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith are the top Skandia Team GBR of four in the final 10-boat race tomorrow. They’re fifth overall, with Dylan Fletcher-Alain Sign in seventh, Stevie Morrison-Ben Rhodes in eighth and John Pink-Rick Peacock tenth.
The women’s match racing team of Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor missed out on the medal chances , losing their quarter-final to 3-2 to Sally Barkow (USA), while windsurfer Bryony Shaw and GBR’s Laser Radial sailors will also sit out the last day of racing after missing out on the 10 medal race places. www.skandiateamgbr.com