Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships first series of medal races were held in Fremantle, Australia today, Sunday 11th December.
Giles Scott added the Finn world title to his European crown on a first finals day which saw three British crews winning medals across the four finals held.
Scott, who started the day in overall first place in the heavyweight dinghy fleet, needed to prevent any boats getting between him and the second-placed Dutchman Pieter Jan Postma to claim the coveted Finn Gold Cup for the first time.
Up until the final run of the three-lap race, Denmark’s former World Champion Jonas Hoegh Christensen was sandwiched between the race leader Postma and Scott to relegate the Skandia Team GBR sailor to the silver medal spot.
But, in a nail-biting encounter, the 24-year-old slowly reeled his competitors back in, and eventually overtook the Dane on the final downwind leg of the 10-boat race to cross the line in second behind Postma and claim the world title by just one point.
'World Champion sounds pretty good doesn’t it?!' said Scott. 'Obviously I’m over the moon – it’s taken me back a little bit and I’m not really quite sure what to make of it at the moment!'
Scott’s goal coming into the event was to be crowned World Champion, to go some way towards the disappointment of missing out on a 2012 selection spot to Ben Ainslie, who, in spite of his disqualification yesterday, turned out to watch his teammates in the medal race and was quick to congratulate the new World Champion.
Scott admitted: 'A month ago I was actually probably struggling for a bit of motivation, especially having lost the selection and that slowly sinking in.
'Fortunately I managed to pull myself through that and put some decent training in and I managed to get myself in the situation where I could win the Worlds and it’s just great.'
Scott confessed that he didn’t have the easiest of medal races, stating 'it’s a bit of a story of all my medal races recently! I like to keep things close!'
'it was very tricky because as soon as I made any ground up on Jonas, PJ came and slapped one on me and sent me back down again. It was difficult but great to pull through on the last run.
Skandia Team GBR also secured the bronze medal in the class through Ed Wright. The defending World Champion had a bad start, after re-crossing the startline thinking he was over early, and had to comeback through the fleet to finish the race in fifth and maintain his overall third spot.
The Bournemouth-based sailor was pleased with his podium finish after a tough start to the week, and was pleased to relinquish his crown to one of his teammates.
'I struggled a little bit early on with an OCS so I was on the back foot really from the second day so I’m pretty happy to come away with a bronze.
'It’s amazing how everyone just keeps on improving and improving [in the British Finn squad] and it’s great for Giles to go away with the win. It’s probably better for at least another Brit to win if it can’t be me!'
Andrew Mills was the third British representative in the medal race, and finished his regatta in seventh overall.
Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell, 470 - Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships - © Richard Langdon/Skandia Team GBR
Completing the set of medals for Skandia Team GBR on Sunday with a silver in the 470 men’s class were Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell, who led the medal race from start to finish.
A gold medal was a theoretical possibility for the British duo heading in to the final race, but with the Australian titleholders Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page 18 points ahead, Patience and Bithell were focussed on their own race and protecting silver. After a good start they took an early lead and never looked back, winning the race and claiming their second World Championship silver since teaming up in 2009.
'We’re feeling great, we’re really happy,' said Patience. 'It’s been a really long week and me and Stuart have worked so hard for this regatta. So much of our training for the last three or four months has been towards this week.
'I know we’re not standing on the gold position on the podium, and that’s what we intended to be, but it’s been a hard week and the Australians have sailed fantastically, so we’re happy to be stood on the podium with a silver medal.
'We’ll be having a good Christmas because of that!'
Nick Rogers and Chris Grube ended their regatta in tenth overall, following a ninth place in their medal race, while Alison Young and Bryony Shaw finished their respective Laser Radial and RS:X windsurfing events in seventh.
Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor picked up two more race wins in their Women’s Match Racing repechage round in their quest to earn a quarter-finals spot, while Sunday also saw the first day of racing for the Star class. Olympic and defending World Champions Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson picked up 4,3 from their two races to sit them on top of the leaderboard after the first day.
Monday (12 December) will see the second wave of World Championship action, with the start of racing for the 49er, Laser, RS:X men’s windsurfing and 470 women’s events.
Skandia Team GBR website
Skandia Team GBR - ISAF Sailing World Championships Perth 2011 - © Richard Langdon/Skandia Team GBR