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Seventh heaven for British sailors in Palma
Palma World Cup gold for Alison Young at the conclusion of the Princess Sofia Trophy on Saturday (6 April).
Steely performances from established campaigners Young in the Laser Radial event and the 2011 World Champion Scott on his return to the heavyweight Finn class were underpinned by some impressive displays from rising British sailing stars at this first European World Cup event of the 2013 season.
The scratch pairing of Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre claimed silver in the 470 women’s event, while Dave Evans and Ed Powys recorded their first World Cup podium finish, with a bronze in the 49er event.
After 2.4mR Paralympic sailor Megan Pascoe kicked off the medal tally for Britain with silver on Friday, it was Young, who scored her first World Cup win at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta in Weymouth and Portland last June, who was the first to add to it. Under the new scoring format being trialled at this regatta, there were two double-points medal races for the majority of the Olympic classes.
Young maintained her overall lead after the first of the day’s two races, but was left fighting back in the second. Her closest rival and the only sailor who could prevent her from winning gold was Denmark’s Sarah Gunni . The Dane saw a better start than Young in race two, and at one stage had enough boats between her and the Brit to
But the Bewdley Olympian pulled back alongside Gunni and once she had her in her sights, match raced her to the back of the fleet to ensure she couldn’t get away again. It meant that Young crossed the line tenth out of ten boats in the final medal race, but had dragged her rival back with her to ninth place to ensure gold remained in her hands.
“Going into the last race it was only the Danish girl who could beat me, so coming down the run I was just going to make sure of it, and make sure she couldn’t get boats between us,” said Young of her tactics.
“I’m pretty pleased to come away with a win – I’ve learned lots of lessons here, it shows all the winter’s training is going in the right direction so I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Two race wins for Flavia Tartaglini saw the Italian overturn Bryony Shaw’s narrow lead in the RS:X women’s event, with the British windsurfer adding World Cup silver to her World Championship silver last month, while Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre held on to their second place after the two medal races in the 470 women’s event to claim silver at their first regatta as a new pairing.
British sailors experienced their first taste of competitive action this week in the two new Olympic classes for Rio, with a promising start in both events. In the women’s 49erFX, Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth finished fifth overall, while ‘Lucy Macgregor and Tom Phipps were also fifth in the Nacra 17 mutlihull event with a third and a second from their medal races. Pippa Wilson and John Gimson were eighth overall.
“It’s been a good start to our competition season,” said RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park. “As well as some fantastic performances by proven performers such as Ali Young and Giles Scott, there have been two really good things to have come out of this regatta. The first is the potential of so many of our new, young teams such as Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre and our teams in the new 49erFX and Nacra classes.
“The second is that the team has had a cracking week together, has had good fun, and everyone is really looking forward to the next event and excited about racing again in Hyeres in two week’s time.”
While Park is feeling positive about the performance of his charges, he remains unconvinced about the racing format which has been trialled in Palma this week.
“The scoring format has been challenging for sailors, race teams and event organisers alike. It’s not necessarily been clear what the desired outcome was, or has been, other than increasing the element of luck in the process. There’s a whole heap of sailing before you even get to the medal stage that doesn’t seem to count for much.
“On the positive side though, we do know that these are trials, and that ISAF is open to feedback which they will take forward to discuss with its various stakeholders to test at future World Cup events before deciding on what is best for the future of the sport.”
Alison Young (Laser Radial)
Megan Pascoe (2.4mR)
Bryony Shaw (RS:X Women)
Sophie Weguelin- Eilidh McIntyre (470 Women)