Britain to contest every class in Skandia regatta

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The Independent Online

Britain will contest every class in the medal showdown tomorrow of the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta in Weymouth, the only country to be represented in all 10 Olympic sailing disciplines.

In the paralympic classes a pair of silver medals has already been secured by John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas in the Sonar and by Alex Rickham and Niki Birrell in the Skud 18.

Hopes are high for further success today when the top 10 from nine classes go into a double points decider and the women’s match race trio of Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Allie Martin will at worst contest the bronze medal place.

Reigning Olympic gold medallists Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson lead the Star keelboat class while in Percy’s former gold medal class, the Finn singlehander, Skandia Team GBR has three in the final 10, and that is without the absent Ben Ainsie. Ed Wright, Giles Scott and Andrew Mills all line up.

There are also three in the men’s 47-dinghy play-off, Nic Asher and Elliot Willis lying second, Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell in third and the 2008 silver medallist Nick Rogers, with new crew Pom Green, in seventh.

In the women’s division the new pairing of Pippa Wilson and Saskia Clark start third with rivals Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes in 10th.

In the Laser, 2008 gold medallist and 2009 world champion Paul Goodison came back into contention in fifth with young rival Nick Thompson joining him in seventh.

The radial division for women the improving Charlotte Dobson starts from seventh, Alison Young is eighth and Andrea Brewster 10th.

And the 2008 bronze medallist Bryony Shaw is looking strong on what are her home waters at second in the RS:X windsurfer with Richard Hamilton eighth and both Chris Draper and Pete Greenhalgh, plus Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith were heading for the 49er finale.

In Cartagena, the tour de force that has been Emirates Team New Zealand’s domination of the Audi MedCup continued. The men in black had wrapped up the series with two days to spare, but they were in no mood to give anything away as they scored a first, a second and a third in the three races off Cartagena.

There are at most two left to sail today and the scrap for second overall, after the series of five regattas, remains intense between Terry Hutchinson’s Quantum and an American rival in the form of tactician Paul Cayard aboard Sweden’s Artemis. Hutchinson has a five-point margin going into the final curtain on Saturday.

The second would be some consolation for the team which ETNZ has deposed as reigning champions. It would also reinforce Quantum’s desirability if the team decides to sell the boat, with Britain’s Team Origin already having shown some interest for its entry next season, though it remains only one of several options.

Damage to the topmast of another British entry Cristabella in the third race of the day means that its regatta is over, but no-one was injured and the boat is expected to be back for the separate, season-ending world championship series in Mallorca in October.

The 10th shareholder slot in the World Team Sailing Association – assuming it can keep that name after negotiations with the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) – is expected to be the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, based in Porto Cervo, the Aga Khan’s resort development in Sardinia.

The ninth place was taken on a preferential shareholder basis by British America’s Cup challenger Team Origin. The first event in the Louis Vuitton World Series, similarly embroiled with ISAF over the use of the word world in its title, is in Nice in November, followed by Auckland in February/March and La Maddalena, northern Sardinia, in May.

Round the world racer`Alex Thomson has bought the Team Pindar Open 60 which completed the recent Vendee Globe singlehanded round the world race in the hands of Brian Thompson, but he will use the current Hugo Boss for the Transat Jacques Vabre race in November before fitting out the Juan Kouyoumdjian-designed new steed for next year’s circuit and the doublehanded non-stop circumnavigation in the Barcelona Race next December.

Andrew Pindar has bought second Open 60 to be shipped to Bahrain, where he is in a sail training partnership with the government.