Pink and Bithell

Euros medal success for Pink and Bithell

Written by RYA | 12 July 2015

49er duo claim European silver and overall event bronze at the 49er Europeans

World number one-ranked duo John Pink and Stuart Bithell fought back from a penultimate day disqualification to finish as the second European crew at the 49er European Championships, which drew to a close on Sunday (12 July) in Porto, Portugal.

Pink and Bithell, who claimed bronze at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Weymouth and Portland last month, concluded the six-day Open regatta – which permits off-continent entries – in third place overall.

New Zealand’s World Champions Pete Burling and Blair Tuke sealed the overall regatta victory with Germany’s Justus Schmidt and Max Boehme, the top European crew, in second overall. 

Fellow British Sailing Team pairing Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign were sixth overall, and the fourth European crew with James Peters and Fynn Sterritt 15th overall (12th Europeans).

After a solid race series seeing them in strong contention for the podium spots, Pink and Bithell were disappointed to fall foul of a jury decision on Saturday which saw them handed a race disqualification for an alleged port-starboard incident with the Kiwi crew. 

It left the British duo in eighth place heading into Sunday’s final day, where a planned three gold fleet races followed by a ten-boat double-points medal race meant that everything was still to play for.

After a short postponement at the start of the day, the British duo came out fighting, posting a third and a 16th in their first two races.

“We’re pretty happy to have come back so strong after a disappointing outcome from our protest yesterday,” Pink explained.

“But that fired us up for today and we had a good first race, an average second.  We didn’t actually know the points going into the last race and we thought at that time we were still going to have a medal race.”

The British pair rounded off the final fleet race – and what turned out to be the final race of the regatta – in style with a race win, and with the race committee running out of time to stage the medal race, Pink and Bithell had done enough to finish as second European crew as well as sealing overall event bronze.

“We’ve got a new boat here and we were using a different rig to normal as we have all of our best kit going to Rio,” Pink explained.

“We were happy to get all that tuned in in the first two days and then we developed on that as the week went on and built some confidence in how quick we were going. 

“We raced well – we had a few silly mistakes that cost us a few places but other than that we raced very well and went pretty quick.  We’ve just got to cut those little bits out and we’ll be pushing even harder on the Kiwis."

The pair will have a short break before flying to Rio in two weeks’ time ahead of the Olympic Test Event, and Pink believes that Porto with its tidal challenge and big swell has been a useful warm-up.

Meanwhile, a medal race capsize for John Gimson and Hannah Diamond put paid to their hopes of a podium finish at a weather-disrupted Nacra 17 World Championship in Aarhus, Denmark, where just eight races could be staged in the five days up to the final medal race.

The duo went into the medal race in ninth place overall but with their rivals close ahead on points.  They started strongly and were second at the first windward mark before a huge gust caused them to capsize.  They finished the race in ninth to end their regatta in tenth overall. 

“It was gutting because if we were 20 metres behind it would have completely missed us and there was nothing we could do to stay upright!” Diamond explained.

“It’s been a fun and challenging week and we leave motivated to go again Rio – once the bruises have healed!”

The British Sailing Team’s Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves concluded their regatta  in 12th, Lucy Macgregor and Dave Evans were 21st, and Tom Phipps and Nikki Boniface were 24th.

Full results from the 49er European Championships and the Nacra 17 World Championships.

For all the latest news and updates from the British Sailing Team, follow us at www.britishsailingteam.com, on Facebook or on Twitter @BritishSailing.

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