Strong fight from Britain's Olympians in world championship final


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The Independent Online

The scoreline says 0-4 but Britain’s Olympic match race trio of Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor put up a tooth and nail fight against the Americans in the world championship final.

Anna Tunnicliffe, who won gold for the US in China but hails from Doncaster, with Deborah Capozzi and Molly Vandemoer, were helped by the British team picking up two penalties in their first race, staged in the Swan River which runs up to Perth, then picking up another before the start of the second.

In both, Macgregor showed threatening speed but then, when leading the third, she could not stop a winning surge by Tunnicliffe on the last leg. At three-nil down in the best of seven the task proved just too much and Tunnicliffe was in control from start to finish of the fourth, even if only feet ahead at the end.

Game over, gold and silver medals allocated, and the second time this year that the match-up has gone the way of the Americans in a major regatta.  For Annie Lush, hoping to be the first woman to win four Olympic match race world titles the wait goes on.

“I think we’ve done 43 races to get to this point, so it’s certainly been good training for the Olympics,” said Lush afterwards.  “I think everyone saw our speed out there was good, we’re sailing the boat well, and there are just a couple of mistakes to iron out before next year. But we’ve got a few months.  Just a little bit more and we’ll take her.”

Added Lucy Macgregor: “I think we have pretty mixed emotions right now.  We were really pleased with the fight that went on out on the water and there was some really close racing.  We made some big mistakes getting some penalties. Without them we’d have been looking very strong today and the scoreline could have looked quite different.”

The British women know they are already selected for Weymouth next year, but, while the Americans will select all other nine slots for the Games from the world championships of sailing being staged off Fremantle, the women’s match race team will be decided by a sudden death sail-off in those Olympic waters next May.

The silver brings Britain’s tally, so far, to one gold, two silvers and a bronze with hopes of at least one more medal, in the high performance 49er skiff, and the possibility of a sixth in the women’s division of the 470 dinghy.

John Pink and Rick Peacock still hold a slender lead in the 49er, two points ahead of the pre-regatta favourites from Australia, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, who have a seven-point advantage over Denmark’s Toft brothers, Emil and Simon.

Britain’s Olympic pick of Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark have moved ahead of Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes, fifth and seventh respectively in the 470 with two races to go before the cut to the top 10 for the medal race.