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Podium finish for British sailors at the 49er European Championships

by RYA on 16 Apr 2016
49er duo John Pink-Stuart Bithell Tomas Moya
World number three-ranked pair John Pink and Stuart Bithell claimed their first podium finish of the year with bronze at the 49er European Championships, which drew to a close in Barcelona today (16 April).

The British Sailing Team duo, who took silver at the 2015 edition of the event, concluded the six-day Open regatta – which permits off-continent entries – in fifth place overall and as the third European crew.

“It’s always nice to step on a podium, but there’s still plenty of work to do and some sharpening up on things,” explained the 470 class Olympic silver medallist Bithell, who’s aiming for selection his second Olympic Games.

After a strong start to the week, Pink and Bithell went into the final day as the second European crew, fourth overall, but hit some bad luck in the fleet races staged ahead of the medal race.

“Today was a little bit of a let-down, to be honest,” Bithell admitted. “We had a UFD [starting penalty]. We’ve been working on attacking the starts and so every now and then you’re going to get bitten. In the last race we also had a bit of boat breakage unfortunately. The jib block on the front on the top of the kite chute ripped out.”

This left the British duo as third Europeans, fifth overall, heading into the final double-points race – a position they consolidated with a third place in the race.

“We’ve sailed a really good week,” Bithell continued. “We’re really happy with how we’re going, the boat speed’s good and everything’s working well. At the beginning of the week we put some really nice results together.”

“I guess the feeling right now is disappointed and happy – happy with how things are going and with the podium finish, but just a little bit disappointed with how today worked out.”

Overall event victory went to the dominant New Zealand duo of Pete Burling and Blair Tuke, with the European Championship title won by the host nation’s Diego Botin and Iago Lopez Marra who finished third overall behind Australia’s Olympic Champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen.

The British Sailing Team’s James Peters and Fynn Sterritt missed out on the top ten medal race cut finishing their regatta in 12th (9th Europeans) with World Championship bronze medallists Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign in 15th overall (12th Europeans).

In the 49erFX European Championships, held concurrently, Rio-bound duo Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth ended their event on the high, claiming the medal race victory to see them into ninth place overall and as the seventh European crew.

Anna Burnet and Steph Orton were 25th, competing in their first event together as a crew and with Burnet on the FX helm having been crewing alongside Sophie Weguelin of late.

Meanwhile, the Laser Radial World Championships continues in Vallarta, Mexico, with Alison Young poised in sixth place after three races and two days of the seven day regatta. app (top)