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Sailing - 29. April 2011.

ISAF Sailing World Cup event in Hyeres

The women's match racing trio of Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor have also guaranteed at least a silver medal for Skandia Team GBR at this French Olympic Sailing Week by booking their place tomorrow's final, while the development SKUD team of Alex Hovden and Kate Mannerings are also assured of a silver with a maximum of two races left for the two-person Paralympic fleet.

In the Paralympic SKUD class, Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell have a scoresheet which would make even Ainslie envious, posting eight race wins from the nine races sailed so far to amass an eight point lead over fellow Brits Alex Hovden and Kate Mannerings.  With a maximum of two races left and a worst score of second in the six boat fleet, Rickham and Birrell cannot lose the gold medal, with Hovden and Mannerings comfortable in the silver medal spot.

"Alex and I have had a good week. We've sailed well for all the week really," Birrell explained.  "We had a small blip yesterday but all week has been very light and very shifty so to have eight wins and a second out of nine races when it's light and shifty, we'd have taken that at the start of the week.

"It's definitely wasn't as easy as the scoreline might suggest.  We were really taking each race at a time and trying to really concentrate on each race and each manoeuvre and not really worry about how far ahead we were or not.  It was about being cautious at the right times and attacking at the right times and I think we got the right balance this week."

Rickham was also full of praise for Hovden and Mannerings for their World Cup performance this week.

"It's great for the class - it's good to see that things are starting to open up and we're hopefully getting some more depth, especially in Britain as that would be really helpful to us as well.

"It's great to see Alex on the startline this week and doing so well, but that starts turning the screw on us a bit doesn't it?  We might actually have some trials on our hands!"

A long day on the water for Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor proved worthwhile when they came through their women's match racing quarter-final 3-1 against Genny Tulloch (USA), and then ended local hopes of a berth in Friday's final by beating Claire Leroy's team 3-1 in the semi-final.  The trio will meet Sally Barkow (USA) in the gold medal match after she beat the Netherlands' Renee Groeneveld.

Skandia Team GBR has further medal opportunities on Friday's final day of the regatta.  In the 470 women's event, gold is already assured to the Spanish crew of Tara Pacheco-Berta Betanzos, but Penny Clark-Katrina Hughes and Hannah Mills-Saskia Clark will be in the fight for the remaining podium spots with Clark-Hughes currently second overall and Mills-Hughes third. Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth ensured a third British boat in the top ten medal race.

Megan Pascoe is in silver medal position and Helena Lucas is just one point off of third in the 2.4mR Paralympic class, which could see two races on their final day, while in the Sonar three-person Paralympic event John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas have moved up to third overall on this penultimate day.

Birthday girl Bryony Shaw, who turned 28 today, has kept in touch of the podium spots - she's fifth overall, five points off of the bronze medal.

 Laser Radial sailors also missing out with Charlotte Dobson and Alison Young in 18th and 21st

Racing at the French Olympic Sailing Week concludes on until Friday 29 April, with the final races starting from 1000hrs local time.

For the latest news and information, visit www.skandiateamgbr.com or follow us on Twitter (@skandiateamgbr) for race updates during the regatta.
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