by Lindsey Bell
Weymouth and Portland International Regatta is being held from 31 July to 13 August 2011 and is the London 2012 Olympic Test Event. All ten Olympic sailing classes will race at the event. The 470 men, 470 women, Laser and Laser Radial events start on 5 August, and the Finn, Star and 49er classes get underway on 6 August. The medal races will run from 11 to 13 August inclusive.
Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor, Elliot 6m Women’s Match Racing
Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor came out fighting on day two of the Regatta, winning four straight bouts in the women’s match racing preliminary round today, Wednesday 3 August.
After a light and difficult first day in which the Skandia Team GBR trio picked up one win to three losses in their opening matches, they hit back to capture four points from their four matches today, overcoming their Portuguese, Swedish, Australian and Danish opponents to retain their sights on a place in the knockout quarter-final stage.
'Today was a new day,' explained Kate Macgregor who, at 20 years old, is the youngest member of the 16-sailor British team to compete at this 2012 test event.
'It was also the first day of the regatta yesterday, so you can’t really put yourself down too much on a day like that. You’ve just got to move forward and just try and get the wins.'
'We had a good day today – it was good to get a few more points after a bit of a disappointing day yesterday,' she continued. 'We had some good wind, quite steady, which made it a bit easier than the conditions were yesterday. That suited us better – it was more on speed and match racing.
'It was all quite calm on board. We sailed the boat quite well, even in the pressured situations, so we were really pleased with how we were sailing.'
The Skandia Team GBR crew will face some tough competition for the final day of the preliminary round robin stage tomorrow. They’re up against Sally Barkow’s American team, the German trio helmed by Silke Hahlbrock, and Clare Leroy’s French crew with a place in the knockout quarter-final stage at stake.
Thursday sees the start of racing for the RS:X men’s and women’s windsurfing fleets, with Nick Dempsey hoping to emulate the form on home waters which saw him capture the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta crown six weeks ago.
The 30-year-old Dempsey, who also won the World Championship title on the waters of Portland Harbour in 2009, is clear about his aspirations for the event.
'A gold medal – I’m not so bothered about the podium!'
'I want to win. I have set myself up to win this year,' explained the Athens bronze medallist.
'Obviously learning about the venue is massively important, but really it’s about performing at the Olympic venue. We’ve learnt a lot about the place over the years, although we have had some new course areas this week, but I’ll still be trying to perform.'
With this test regatta replicating the Games format of just one entry per nation in each of the ten classes, Dempsey accepts that racing in a much smaller fleet will provide good experience ahead of the 2012 regatta.
'It does bring up some tactical issues that are a bit different. From that respect it’s a very, very good learning event - it’s a lot about positioning and putting yourself in the right place at the right time as they are small fleets. Maybe you just have a bit a little bit more aggressive and less conservative.
'It’s going to be interesting racing with less guys, and hopefully should favour my sailing.'
In the RS:X women’s fleet, Beijing bronze medallist Bryony Shaw was disappointed to have missed out on the podium spots at Skandia Sail for Gold in June, but has worked on both her tactical approach as well as fitness and speed towards what she sees as her key regatta for the year.
'I think the biggest mistake at Sail for Gold was slipping up with my OCS, so we’ve just been making sure I don’t need to be too extreme and things like that,' Shaw explained.
'I’d have probably got a podium position there otherwise, so I’m not too far off the mark and just need to keep things going and ticking in the right direction.'
'Everything’s going well, I feel like my speed is good, I’m feeling good in myself and all the fitness preparations have been going well,' continued the 28-year-old.
'This is my target event for the year, so I’m trying to make sure there’s a positive vibe about the whole thing and just go in there with a positive mindset and put everything I’ve been practising into practice!'
Skandia Team GBR squad for the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta:
Laser - Paul Goodison
Laser Radial - Charlotte Dobson
Finn - Ben Ainslie
RS:X Men - Nick Dempsey
RS:X Women - Bryony Shaw
470 Men - Nick Rogers and Chris Grube
470 Women - Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark
49er - Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes
Star - Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson
Women's Match Racing - Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor
Skandia Team GBR website