Britain rules the waves to bring home ten medals from Hyeres


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The Independent Online

Three golds, four silvers and three bronzes proved a satisfying haul for Britain’s Olympic sailing squad from the World Cup event in Hyeres.

In the race to take over the mantle vacated by the recently knighted Ben Ainslie in the Finn singlehander, one British former world champion, Andrew Mills, pipped another Britih former world champion, Giles Scott to take gold and silver while 1988 bronze medallist Bryony Shaw was also in determined form to take gold in the windsurfer.

The third gold went to Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign in the high performance 49er skiff, with Britain also taking silver through Dave Evans and Ed Powys for another British one/two, made better by Charlotte Dobson and Mary Rook also winning silver in the women’s division, making it first appearance on the World Cup series after being selected for the 2016 Games in Rio.

Silver, too, for reigning Olympic gold medallist Helena Lucas in the paralympic singlehander, chased home in bronze by Megan Pascoe. The other bronze medals went also to women, with Ally Young in the Laser Radial and the pairing of Sophie Weguelin and Eileh McIntyre, daughter of 1988 gold medallist Mike, in the 470 dinghy.

“It’s year one of the cycle and it’s dangerous to draw too many conclusions, but we have had some great performances this week and we are making good progress in the new classes,” said the RYA Olympic manager Stephen Park.

But he has wider problems on his plate, including replacing about one third of his funding after losing both Skandia and Accenture as sponsors to boost the GBP25m. over four years from lottery funds agreed by UK Sport. At the moment, even if both are replaced, British sailing, one of the top medal delivery mechanisms, could see funding down by about 10 per cent.

The World Cup series is also in the throes of settling the format not just of these regattas – five are planned for next year – but the race formats for Rio. Not everyone is happy and it is not entirely clear what the world governing body, the International Sailing Federation, is trying to achieve. The problem goes back 25 years and a major paper produced by Phil Jones, British-born current boss of Australian Olympic sailing, has yet to be fully implemented.

The annual general meeting in Oman in November is tasked with taking final decisions.