British sailors at the Breitling Regatta in Holland on Saturday (26 May), winning gold in the Yngling class and hitting form in time for the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Cascais (POR) which get underway in just over a month’s time.
Since forming as a trio last autumn, Ayton, Webb and Wilson have consistently reached the podium at every event they’ve raced in, but today in Medemblik they scored their first gold together, and in doing so boosted Ayton’s enviable track record of placing within the top seven at every regatta she’s helmed in following the Athens Olympics.
The Skandia Team GBR sailors went into the final medal race, held on Saturday evening, in pole position in spite of picking up a black flag amongst their three race results earlier in the day. In the final ten-boat showdown they were first to the first windward mark, but had two Dutch boats ahead of them by the time they reached the windward mark for the second time.
Some good downwind pace pulled them back one place, and ‘Team Mirabaud’ finished the medal race in second place, which handed them the gold medal with a 16 point margin over Dutch trio Mandy Mulder, Brechtje vd Werf and Marije Kampen, who crossed first ahead of the Brits in the final.
“The Breitling Regatta is the last event before the Worlds and as a team it was important for us to perform,” a delighted Ayton explained. “It proved to be a tricky week – the first half of the regatta was under five knots and this is an area we’ve been weak in in the past, and is something we’ve been working hard on.
“Our speed and our tactics have improved in these conditions and we’re really gelling as a team. Sarah [Webb] is a real force to be reckoned with in the boat with her experience, tough attitude and physical strength, while Pippa has really added another dimension to our team. Having only been with us for six months she’s proved an exceptional talent and in many ways has been the missing link.”
Ayton continued: “The three of us have been working closely with our coach Paul Brotherton, who’s very much the fourth member of our team. Three is a difficult number, but Paul’s experience has helped us form a solid team dynamic which has been and will be key for the Worlds in Cascais.
“It’s been a long week – we’ve had 13 races and it’s been mentally and physically demanding and pur result here just goes to show that all the hours that Sarah and Pippa have been putting in at the gym are paying dividends.
“Our next challenge is Cascais – we’re really looking forward to it as a team, we’re ready and prepared. We’ve been training there quite a bit and I think the conditions are going to suit us. It’s going to be a regatta where you need an all round set-up and need to be solid tactically as a team.”
A Gutsy performance from both sides