Yngling trio Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson claimed the first medal for Great Britain at the Delta Lloyd Regatta in Holland on Saturday (24 May) – their last major event before the Beijing Olympic Games in August.
The two-time World Champions ensured that Skandia Team GBR got an early entry in the regatta medal standings, with four more medals possible for British sailors on the final day of racing in Medemblik on Sunday.
Ayton, Webb and Wilson were in fourth place heading into the final day of racing for the women’s keelboat event, and after three further fleet races to determine the ten finalists, they started the Saturday night’s medal race in the bronze medal position, with Ulrike Schueman’s German crew and the Dutch trio helmed by Renee Groeneveld ahead of them.
After a short postponement waiting for conditions to settle, the medal race fleet got underway, but the British ‘Team Mirabaud’ were left fighting back after having to recross the startline following a premature start. But they pulled back through the pack to finish the race in seventh place – enough to secure them the bronze medal and their fifth podium finish out of six major events this year.
Gold went to the Dutch crew of Renee Groeneveld, Brechtje vd Werf and Marije Kampen, with Ulrike Schuemann, Julia Bleck and Ute Hoepfner claiming silver for Germany.
“We’ve achieved all our goals here, so it’s been a good week,” Ayton explained. “We haven’t got our best boat here with us, so to come back in the medal race and achieve a third with our third best kit is pretty encouraging.
“I think the fact we were able to do that just highlights the strength of us as a team, and that’s what it’s going to be all about in China.”
Seven more British boats will contest the remaining finals on Sunday, with Skandia Team GBR poised for medal success in four more classes. Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes head into the 49er medal race in gold medal position, and are guaranteed to be on the podium if they can avoid any major infringements. They have a nine point lead over the Spanish Alonso pairing, with the Italian Sibello brothers two points behind the Spaniards in third.
Dave Evans and Simon Hiscocks made it into the final ten boats in just their second event together, while John Pink-Rick Peacock and Paul Campbell James-Mark Asquith fell just short of the final, in 11th and 12th places respectively.
The final for the Finn class will be a nail-biting affair, with Gasper Vincec, Britain’s Ed Wright, and Spaniard Rafael Trujillo occupy the top three spots on 21,22 and 23 points respectively and fourth placed Croatian Ivan Kljakovis Gaspic also capable of breaking into the medal positions.
470 duo Christina Bassadone and Saskia Clark head into their final race in the bronze medal position, with 9,1,4 from their three races on Saturday keeping them in the hunt, while Leigh McMillan and Will Howden are in third on level points with the second-placed French pairing in the Tornado catamaran class.
Although not in medal contention, the Skandia Team GBR flag will also be flying in the Laser Radial and Star medal races, with Penny Clark in sixth in the women’s single-handed class and Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson in ninth in the men’s keelboat event.
Racing at the Delta Lloyd Regatta continues through until Sunday 25 May – for more news and information, visit www.skandiateamgbr.com/events/hollandreg
photos Janos Schmidt