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Europeans silver and bronze for GBR 470 crews
British sailors in the 470 men’s and women’s events have claimed two more podium spots on the final day of the European Championships, taking Skandia Team GBR’s medal haul to five from the Helsinki regatta.
Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell, and Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark took silver and bronze respectively on Friday’s final day of competition (15 July), with the men’s pair narrowly missing out on the European title.
The 470 class podium places are added to the golds won by Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign in the 49er class and Giles Scott in the Finn class, with Andrew Mills also claiming bronze in the same event.
Patience and Bithell finished just one point behind the gold medal-winning Croatian crew of Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic in the title chase, with their second place in Friday’s final medal race, behind Skandia Team GBR teammates Nic Asher and Elliot Willis, not quite enough to hand them their first European crown.
Australia’s World Champions Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page took the overall regatta victory.
“We’ve had a very good week,” said 24-year-old Bithell. “After the disappointment of Sail for Gold, we came here to try and win the event so it feels really good to have come so close.
“We got caught out a couple of times, but we’ve had some good results across the series and saw the Europeans as another chance to put our case forwards, and I think we’ve done that well.”
“We missed out on the title by just one point, one place over the week,” added the 24-year-old Scotsman Patience.
“You can always look back at the event and think of where you might have just picked up that one extra place, but that’s what it’s like at the top of sport. The margins are so small.”
Asher and Willis, the two-time World Champions, finished their regatta as the fourth European boat, sixth overall.
In the 470 women’s event, Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark came back from a difficult start to their regatta series to claim bronze and their third medal from the four major events they’ve contested since teaming up in February.
The duo finished in style, winning the medal race to seal bronze behind the Spanish series winners Tara Pacheco-Berta Betanzos and Danish silver medallists Henriette Koch-Lene Sommer. Brazil’s Fernanda Oliviera-Ana Luisa Barbachan were overall third ahead of Mills and Clark, but ineligible in the European standings.
Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes ensured a Skandia Team GBR 1-2 in the medal race on Friday to end their regatta as the fourth European boat and fifth overall.
Cardiff’s Mills described the first two days of her and Clark’s regatta as “horrendous – couldn’t really have gone any worse!” with two black flag penalties and a 37th due to a capsize marring their scoresheet after four races.
The pair managed to get the first of the black flags overturned and came out fighting on the third day of their regatta where they posted a 1,3 and started to turn their fortunes around.
“It was a pretty shocking start to the event, but it’s really great that in spite of that, we picked ourselves up, kept fighting and kept ourselves in with a shout of the medals going into today,” Mills explained.
“We’re chuffed with how we’re progressing – we’ve won three medals now, and two out of three of those – our Hyeres silver and now this one – have come about through awful lot of hard work and having to fight back.
“That’s really important for us as a team, and we’re continuing to learn lessons every event we do which is great.”
For full results from the 2011 Open Europeans, visit http://www.openeuropeans2011.com
For the latest news and information from the British Sailing Team, visit www.skandiateamgbr.com or follow us on Twitter (@SkandiaTeamGBR).
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