Britons Win 13 Medals At Sailing World Cup Weymouth And Portland
Published: Tuesday, 21 June 2016
The best of Weymouth and Portland was on show as 10 medal races brought the final Sailing World Cup event (June 6-12) before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games to a close. Chinese sailors won one gold, one silver and one bronze medals in the races.
(Photos: Jesus Renedo, Marina Garcia, Pedro Martinez / Sailing World)
The medal races provided a glimpse of what is to come at Rio 2016 with those aiming to peak for the Olympic Games topping the podium.
A consistent south-westerly 10-14 knot breeze ensured a bumper day of live medal races in Portland Harbour. China took three medals in Men's RS:X, Women's RS:X and Laser Radial, while Great Britain was the big winner, claiming 13 medals on their home waters.
Men's and Women's 470
Croatia's Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic won an impressive gold medal in the Men's 470. They grabbed the lead early on and never looked back as they overcame a six-point deficit over the leading British and Spanish teams.
(Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic)
"It feels great to win in Weymouth,” exclaims Fantela immediately after racing. "We have never done it. When we were preparing for the London 2012 Olympics we were always third and fourth. It's great to finally win here.”
Fantela and Marenic have won key events in the build-up to Rio 2016. They knocked Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) off of the Men's 470 World Championship throne, winning the title in Buenos Aires, Argentina earlier on in the year. They then snapped up Sailing World Cup Hyères gold and the Weymouth and Portland victory puts them in a strong place going into Rio 2016.
(Mat Belcher and Will Ryan)
"We are happy with the way we are sailing,” says Marenic. "We're taking some good points away and some things to work on with Rio really close. This is showing us we are in a good way and we are looking forward to Rio.”
Great Britain's Luke Patience and Chris Grube and Spain's Jordi Xammar and Joan Herp were tied for the lead overnight on 24 points with the Croatians six points behind in third.
The Croatians concentrated on winning the race as both teams pushed to make up the places. Xammar and Herp came closest, finishing level on 32 points with the Croatians, missing out on gold via countback. Even though they had to settle for silver, Xammar and Herp were both delighted with their week.
"It was a good championship for us,” says Xammar, "It's our second podium in the world cup and having a silver is amazing. We won in Qingdao 2014 but not all the top guys were there.”
"At one moment we thought we could move up [to first] at the last mark. Our speed brought us up into the silver medal position,” says Herp.
British sailors dominated in the Women's 470, making it a clean sweep of British flags on the podium.
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR) successfully defended the title they won in 2015 after a second in the medal race. Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) took the race victory and with it, silver. Amy Seabright and Anna Carpenter (GBR) completed the all-British podium.
Switzerland's Linda Fahrni and Maja Siegenthaler were tied with Mills and Clark at the top of the leader board before the medal race but a seventh meant they missed out via countback, ending up fourth overall.
Great Britain's Giles Scott continued his dominance in the Finn, claiming another gold medal on his #RoadToRio. Jonathan Lobert (FRA) won the medal race to secure silver and Max Salminen (SWE) completed the podium.
Scott finished second to Lobert in a physically tough Finn medal race that saw each sailor push the limits. After racing Scott said, "This is about as physical as it gets. The water was flat, there was not a lot of surfing and with free pumping in 10 knots, you put as much energy into it as you can. The guys who did well made the most of that.”
Lobert was the standout sailor in the Finn class on the day, streaking ahead to win the medal race by 15 seconds. The Frenchman enjoyed great success in Weymouth and Portland over the years, winning bronze at London 2012 and feels comfortable on the waters. "I love medal races in Weymouth as I win most of them,” exclaims Lobert. "I feel good here as I have good lines and I am fast.”
Laser and Laser Radial
Training partners Nick Thompson and Elliot Hanson made it a British 1-2 in the Laser fleet as Australia's Tom Burton was made to settle for bronze.
Burton had led for the most part of the week but a ninth in the medal race compared the Thompson's fourth and Hanson's third saw him drop down.
For the British pair, they shared their success together and highlighted their regime as the key to success. "Hanson has put in a lot of hard work already so it's great to see him shine. He's spent a lot of time in Rio with me and it's great to see him finish second,” says Thompson.
"It feels awesome. It's my first World Cup medal and to be up on the podium with my mate, it means a lot. I'm proud to be his training partner. I'm happy with this week and hopefully it will put me in good stead going to Tokyo,” says Hanson.
Marit Bouwmeester (NED) dominated Mathilde de Kerangat (FRA) in the Laser Radial medal race to confirm her gold medal. At the front of the fleet, Lijia Xu (CHN) sailed away, taking the medal race win and with it, silver as the French racer dropped to third.
The French sailor was Bouwmeester's only rival for gold as she was well clear of the chasing pack. Taking a 13-point advantage over de Kerangat into the Medal Race, Bouwmeester's approach was a brutal, yet fair one, as she match raced her opponent to the back of the fleet.
"It feels good to win,” Bouwmeester says. "I wasn't certain on the left of the course so I changed a little bit and took France out. It was quite difficult to slow someone down in this breeze so I tried to hold her up as much as I could and I am glad I succeeded.”
Men's and Women's RS:X
Toni Wilhelm (GER) and Peina Chen (CHN) held on to their overnight leads in the Men's and Women's RS:X.
Wilhelm snapped up the Medal Race victory, taking the win by just six seconds over Tom Squires (GBR). Wilhelm's main rival for gold, Chunzhuang Liu (CHN) finished down in seventh. Aichen Wang (CHN) completed the Men's RS:X podium.
In the Women's RS:X, Chen's run of race wins was ended by Great Britain's Emma Wilson but the work done in the fleet races was enough for her to sail through in second and snap up gold. Victory for Wilson ensured she held on to silver with Isobel Hamilton (GBR) claiming bronze.
(Emma Wilson, Peina Chen and Isobel Hamilton)
49er and 49erFX
Logan Dunning Beck and Jack Simpson (NZL) earned victory of the medal race.
(Dylan Fletcher Scott and Alain Sign, Logan Dunning Beck and Jack Simpson, John Pink and Stu Bithell)
The pair had a solid advantage heading into the medal race and a sixth confirmed the victory. Immediately after the win the duo were virtually lost for words.
"The winning is a bit foreign for us,” says Dunning Beck. "We're usually chasing at the back of the pack. It's awesome. Peter and Blair are great role models back at home and they're setting the bar really high.”
Second in the Medal Race confirmed silver for Dylan Fletcher Scott and Alain Sign (GBR) and race winners, John Pink and Stu Bithell (GBR) complete the podium.
Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth (GBR) held on to their gold medal in the 49erFX after Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) made a final assault on top spot.
The Kiwis demonstrated excellent teamwork in the medal race and once they grabbed the lead it never looked like they would relinquish it. They came through 21 seconds clear of their rivals.
The Brits followed in fourth place, which was enough to give them gold by a single point and they were delighted with their week. "It's incredible,” says Dobson. "It's amazing that it's this close to Rio and we pulled this one out of the bag. It's been a while since we have finished on the podium.”
"We're happy with where our sailing is right now and things that we've been working on over the last nine months have come together,” adds Ainsworth.
Maloney and Meech did all they could in the medal race but they were still left with smiles on their faces. "It was really cool to come out here and execute our plan,” says Maloney. "We're stoked with second but we were really close to first and that would have been nice but we're happy with the day,” adds Meech.
Julia Gross and Cecilia Jonsson (SWE) rounded off the podium.
(Alex Maloney and Molly Meech, Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth, Julia Gross and Cecilia Jonsson)
Sixth in the medal race was enough for Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves (GBR) to win gold in the Nacra 17. The pair held the lead heading into the final day and even though their main rivals to gold, Paul Kohlhoff and Carolina Werner of Germany, finished well ahead of them, the three consecutive race wins they picked up leading up to the medal race proved decisive.
Sailing World Cup Hyères gold medallists Fernando Echavarri and Tara Pacheco (ESP) won the Medal Race but this was not enough to make it onto the podium. Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA) came through directly behind them, snapping up bronze.
Less than two months remain until the start of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games so it's full on from hereon in until the summer showcase. As for the Sailing World Cup, the series will resume in Qingdao, China before the centrepiece final in Melbourne, Australia in December. - By Daniel Smith