photos François Richard
British sailors Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson have continued their confident march towards Olympic glory by clinching the Yngling European Championship title in Blanes, Spain, this weekend.
With this latest victory, the Skandia Team GBR trio are now the proud holders of all three major titles – back-to-back World Championship golds, the 2007 Pre-Olympic title and the European crown – heading into the Olympic regatta at Qingdao in four months’ time.
The 23-boat fleet at the Europeans experienced a mixture of both light wind and steady sea breeze conditions during the course of the five-day regatta, which led to some tight racing with six boats all within seven points of each other heading into the 10-boat medal race on Saturday (5 April).
‘Team MIrabaud’ were leading on countback going into the final day, tied on points with the top Dutch boat helmed by Renee Groeneveld, were just two points ahead of Anna Basalkina’s Russian team and three points ahead of long-time American rivals Sally Barkow, Carrie Howe and Debbie Capozzi.
In a thrilling finale, the British crew, the USA team and the two leading Dutch teams, contesting their Olympic trials in Blanes, all jostled for position on the final downwind leg. Barkow’s team crossed the finish line first but Ayton, Webb and Wilson were in hot pursuit, with their second place in the medal race enough to keep them ahead in the points table and earn them the European title to continue their podium-placing form in this Olympic year.
The Yngling trio will next compete at the French Olympic Sailing Week at Hyeres, from 19-25 April.
Results – Yngling European Championship (Blanes, Spain)
1. Sarah Ayton-Sarah Webb-Pippa Wilson, GBR (53pts)
2. Sally Barkow-Carrie Howe-Debbie Capozzi, USA (54pts)
3. Renee Groeneveld-Annenieke Bes-Merel Witteveen, NED (57pts)