The medal race for the Yngling class was just as dramatic, with just one point separating the American leaders Sally Barkow, Carrie Howe and Debbie Capozzi, from the British crew Ayton, Webb and Wilson. The USA team looked to have to the edge over Ayton, Webb and Wilson on the first upwind leg, but upon reaching the first mark they had to pull out of the race after learning that they’d had a premature start.
The pressure on the Skandia Team GBR crew then eased, allowing Ayton, Webb and Wilson to sail a safe race, finishing second behind the Russian boat and taking overall victory by nine points.
photo Getty Images
“The tide was a big factor in the race,” Ayton explained. “It was very tough to control and we had to be careful not to be over the line at the start; unfortunately, the USA team were, so they got pulled out at the top mark.
“We are very pleased and very excited – we’ve had a great year, and are on a roll. One win leads to another, and we hope to carry this momentum into the Olympics next year. We haven’t been off the podium once yet this year so we have to be confident that we will be the ones representing Great Britain here in 12 months time.”
The Olympic Test Event also ended on a high for Charlotte Dobson – the youngest member of the British team here in Qingdao – who punched out a race win in the Laser Radial medal race to finish the regatta in fifth place overall.
“I’m delighted and so proud of the team’s results here in Qingdao, which have surpassed all our expectations,” said RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park. “The sailors certainly didn’t have it easy, with some really tricky conditions and competition to content with, and they had to dig deep and grind out some strong performances when it really mattered.”
Although spirits in the British camp are understandably high, Park warns that they won’t have it all their own way in 2008. “Of course it would of course be amazing to be in a similar situation when we return in 12 months’ time, but there’s a long way to go between now and then, and certainly we’ve seen a number of countries upping their game for this event.
photo Getty Images
“Now’s not a time for complacency, and we need to use every moment between now and the Olympics next year to ensure that we’re on top of our game and that the team is in the best possible shape.”
photos Janos Schmidt