Team GB excel in Weymouth at Olympic test event


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The Independent Online

Two more medals were won by Team GBR at the official Olympic test event in Weymouth, meaning that the target of four has already been achieved and there are chances for still more, not least from reigning Olympic champion Ben Ainslie.

Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, having led most of the regatta, were dislodged from the gold medal slot by Japan’s Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata and had to be content with silver.

Another reigning Olympic champion, Paul Goodison, secured bronze in the Laser behind Tom Slingsby of Australia and Rutger van Schaardenburg of The Netherland.

Nick Rogers and Chris Grube finished fifth in a 470 men’s event won in runaway style by Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos of France.

In equally dominant form was Marit Bouwmeester of The Netherlands winning gold in a Laser Radial with Charlotte Dobson in ninth. The Dutch have been having a good regatta.

Further east up the Channel, South African Mike Bartholomew scored his third win of Aberdeen Cowes Week and with it added the Rocking Chair Trophy to the Britannia Cup.

Near perfect conditions in Cascais saw Italy’s Spanish-based GreenComm team won its way into the day’s match race section of the for the top six in America’s Cup World Series for AC45 wing-powered catamarans. Jimmy Spithill scored three bullets for Oracle in the fleet racing.

It was also announced that the 2011-12 series will hold its finale in the long-time home of the America’s Cup, Newport, Rhode Island with the regatta running from 23 June to 1 July next year.

The intervening two or three regattas have yet to be announced but talks have been held in Perth, W. Australia, Sydney and Auckland with an Australian venue currently more likely to be chosen.

On GreenComm is current Finn world champion Ed Wright, taking time out as Ben Ainslie had the sole place in Weymouth courtesy of having won the Sail for Gold qualifier in June. He expects to be with the team at the second regatta in Plymouth in September.

The change of discipline, from a heavyweight singlehanded dinghy to a high performance multihull is not as great, he says, as might be expected. “At the end of the day, sailing is sailing,” he says. “Our helmsman Vasilij Zbogar has a great feel for it. We are fast already. It’s just that we make mistakes.

“If it looks spectacular from the outside, it’s amazing on the boat as well, full throttle. We have only been in the boat for five days and we are really starting to get to grips with it and I think the whole event and project has taken sailing a step forward.

“The way they are presenting the racing is fantastic and on the day I was not sailing but watching I thought it was just great,” he added.