Gold for 470 Women as British medal haul amounts to five in France
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark were the British Sailing Team’s golden girls on a final day of World Cup racing in Hyeres which also yielded a silver and two bronze medals for GBR’s Olympic medal hopefuls.
The four medals from the final day of Olympic classes competition at the stormy French Riviera venue on Sunday add to the silver medal won by the Paralympic trio of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas on Saturday.
Mills and Clark’s medal race was the first to get underway, with the Olympic silver medallists going in to the final race in overall second, just a point behind the French leaders and a point ahead of the Brazilian crew in third.
“It was exciting – it was absolutely freezing as well!” Mills explained of the final race. “I think some English weather maybe helped us today! It was really exciting, really tight, all the top boats were right up there in the mix so it was a who beats who scenario.”
The Brazilian team of Fernanda Oliviera and Ana Luisa Barbachan got off to a superior start, leaving the Brits to protect their silver position against the host’s Camille Lecointre and Helene Defrance.
But the New Zealand Olympic Champions Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie reined in the Brazilian duo on the second lap, which meant that Mills and Clark’s third place in the medal race, which the French still behind them, allowed them to take gold.
“We had our eyes on what was going on, we caught the Brazilians up quite a lot up on that second beat and once we saw that the Kiwis had definitely passed them we relaxed a bit on them and really wanted to protect the French to make sure we got the win,” Mills continued.
“Obviously [the Kiwis were] a huge help at that point in the race. It was a fun, exciting race.”
Clark was delighted with the victory, and the duo’s progress towards a hopeful Olympic medal upgrade this summer.
“It’s obviously great to come to any World Cup regatta and win it. For me and Hannah to convert a second into a first in the medal race shows we’re making progress with our comms and everything, but we’ve still got progress to make.”
All but guaranteed a podium finish heading into the final day, Bryony Shaw consolidated her silver medal position in the RS:X women’s windsurfing event. She finished third in the medal race to extend her impressive run of podium finishes, but admitted to feeling ‘frustrated’ with part of her regatta.
“It’s been a tough week with just little mistakes here and there that haven’t really shown my form in the results. But I finished third in the medal race and second overall so that’s a good result, but I’ve had some little frustrations in my own sailing this week,” the 33-year-old explained.
“It’s the case of sharpening the saw now. I’m really pleased that there are no major things to work on heading in to Rio. I’ll keep my head down and keep smiling, keep enjoying it and hopefully it will all come together in the summer.”
Nick Dempsey made it two windsurfing medals with a bronze in the RS:X men’s race, although he never made it on to the water on Sunday. Beset by weather delays, the men’s windsurfing fleet were unable to start a race before the official cut off time, so Dempsey’s overall third place from yesterday stands.
The Olympic silver and bronze medallist was content with his performance at a venue he historically has not enjoyed.
“It’s really easy to look back on this week and see all the points you’ve lost and that you feel like you really could’ve, should’ve won,” he explained. “But at the end of the day it’s another good event for me. I was second in Brazil in December, second in Miami, fourth at the Worlds, third here. It’s all good stuff and it’s all racing out for the front, racing for gold medals.
“That’s all really encouraging and just backs up that everything on track and looking good for the summer. Now it will be nice to really turn the focus 100% to Rio and start working on the final details of how were going to win.”
Alison Young also secured a bronze in the Laser Radial event, though was relieved that the first attempt at a medal race was timed out in the light winds, with the World Champion deep in the fleet when the race was abandoned. She fared better when the re-run got underway, holding on to bronze with a fifth place in the medal race.
“It’s been a tough week’s racing, there’s been lots going on this week but it’s pleasing to back up the Worlds result with a medal out here as well,” Young explained.
“It’s pleasing to see the programme moving in the right direction at the moment.”
Elsewhere in the final day’s action, there was disappointment for Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves who narrowly missed out on the medals in the Nacra 17 event. Heading in to the final day with the yellow leaders’ jerseys, they were over eager at the start and re-crossed the start line to avoid a penalty, which left them fighting back to make the medals. They finished fourth in the end, missing out on bronze on countback to the Dutch crew.
In the 49er event, Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign won the medal race to end their regatta in fifth place, James Peters and Fynn Sterritt were fourth and John Pink and Stuart Bithell were sixth.
Nick Thompson finished sixth in the Laser medal race to finish sixth overall, while Luke Patience and Chris Grube ended their regatta in tenth in the 470 Men’s event.
For full regatta results visit www.sailing.org/worldcup