A hatful of gold and silver medals was taken home by the British squad at the ISAF World Cup regatta on the London 2012 Games track in Weymouth Bay. Current partners Nick Dempsey (windsurfer) and Hannah Mills, with women's 470 crew Saskia Clark, both went home with gold medals and Finn singlehander Giles Scott overcame a penalty in the deciding medal race to emphasise his dominance in a class which Britain has been the boss for over 15 years. Iain Percy used to terrify the boat park when he won in Sydney in 2000 and Ben Ainslie won three of his four Olympic golds in the class at the next three Games.
Helena Lucas, already selected for the Rio Games, in which Britain has qualified for a place in all 10 classes, was head and tiny shoulders above the rest in the 2.4mR singlehanded paralympic boat while Bryony Shaw overcame a shaky start on what are her home waters to take silver on the windsurfer. Also in the paralympic classes, Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell won gold in the Skud while the trio of Robertson, Stodel and Thomas took bronze in the Sonar.
Britain also won a one-two silver in the men’s windsurfing event through Tom Squires, but there was no way John Pink and Stuart Bithell wer going to stop the march of New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke in the 49er. Britain took the bronze and the Kiwis are already eying up the ACWS regatta in Portsmouth next month.
Later this week the Extreme Sailing Series returns to the really tight track that is Cardiff Bay with British Olympians striving for supremacy, Leigh McMillan wanting to put Oman Sail back in command of an event he has won twice and Chris Draper joining GAC Pindar almost as a warm-up for that America’s Cup World Series regatta in Portsmouth at the end of next month. The on-off saga of a team carrying the flag of China joining the fray continues to confuse almost everybody.
Draper was released by Italy’s Luna Rossa when Prada boss Patrizio Bertelli decided he had had enough of the flip-flopping of the America’s Cup Event Authority, which organises the event on behalf of the San Francisco-based holder, the Golden Gate Yacht Club, and its representative team, Oracle Racing. Draper has now been snapped up as sailing director by Japan’s SoftBank challenge, which recruited former Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker when he parted company with the 2013 final challengers. In the last week, three more top TNZ members, including Nick Holroyd, its head of design, have also left, but the main sponsor, Emirates airline, has confirmed continued support, as has the Omega watch company.
Five times world match racing champion Ian Willams and his GAC Pindar team duly beat the Australian Matt Jerwood to lift the Royal Southern Match Cup in Hamble and Wednesday/Thursday sees the Figaro singlehanded fleet make its British stop in Torquay.
Dartmouth sailor Henry Bomby (Rockfish Red) finished Leg 2 in spectacular style, crossing the finish line fourth of 39 boats. Twenty-four year old Henry now boasts the best British leg finish in 40 years, the highest ranking result ever achieved by a British sailor in any Solitaire leg since 1975.
Jack Bouttell (GAC Concise) is currently the top British sailor on the overall leaderboard after another strong performance, finishing 14 in Leg 2. After two legs, Jack now sits 12th overall - two hours and 56 minutes behind overall race leader Yann Elies.
In Lorient, the Volvo fleet was preparing to line up for the last leg of its round the world race to Gothenburg via Scheveningen. As the points stand, Britain’s double Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker, has made it third time round the world lucky as he takes the Abu Dhabi team to a an overall win and the whole race has been made worthwhile for the all-woman crew of SCA, skippered by Britain’s France-based Sam Davies, by winning the leg from Lisbon to Lorient. And the triumph of determination over adversity was embodied by the Vestas team rejoining the race after its yacht was smashed on a reef in the Indian Ocean on the second leg from Cape Town.
Figaro overall standings after two legs:
1. Yann Elies/Groupe Queguiner – Leucémie Espoir/5 days, 18 hours, 20’, 15”
2. Xavier Macaire/Skipper Herault/5 days, 18 hours, 24’, 38”
3. Alexis Loison/Groupe Fiva/5 days, 18 hours, 34’, 14”
12. Jack Bouttell/GAC Concise/5 days, 21 hours, 16’, 19”
13. Henry Bomby/Rockfish Red/ 5 days, 21 hours, 39’, 44”
16. Robin Elsey/Artemis 43/5 days, 22 hours, 16’, 11”
17. Sam Matson/Chatham Marine/5 days, 22 hours, 17’, 12”
18. Alan Roberts/Magma Structures/ 5 days, 22 hours, 51’, 43”
31. Nick Cherry/Redshift/6 days, 1 hour, 29’, 54”
32. Andrew Baker/Artemis 23/6 days, 1 hour, 34’, 26”
37. Rob Bunce/Artemis 37/ 6 days, 2 hours, 44’, 27”
Eight of the 10 places for the Olympic test event in Rio in August have been selected by the UK after the Weymouth event. They are:
Finn – Giles Scott
RS:X Men – Nick Dempsey
RS:X Women – TBC
470 Men – Luke Patience & Elliot Willis
470 Women – Hannah Mills & Saskia Clark
49er – John Pink & Stuart Bithell
49erFX – Charlotte Dobson & Sophie Ainsworth
Nacra 17 – John Gimson & Hannah Diamond
Laser Radial – Alison Young
Laser – TBC