Finn gold for Scott while 470 Women settle for silver

Written by RYA | 22 August 2015

Scott extends his unbeaten run with Olympic Test Event gold, while Mills and Clark take home silver

Giles Scott clinched a final day Finn class victory at the Olympic Test Event on Saturday (22 August), with Britain’s 470 duo Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark having to settle for silver after a medal race mistake saw their regatta lead slip away.

The World Champion Scott continued his two year winning streak by overhauling the Netherlands’ Pieter-Jan Postma on the final day of racing at the Aquece Rio International Regatta after a testing start to his week-long regatta.

Scott admitted he had been ‘on the back foot’ after a race disqualification earlier in the week, but was relieved that a fourth place finish in the medal race to Postma’s eighth proved enough to claim the top spot of the podium – his second consecutive Test Event victory at the 2016 venue.

“It feels pretty good!” Scott exclaimed.  “I’ve had a pretty trying week and have been a bit on the back foot since day one.  “I clawed my way to the front of the fleet somehow and managed to get that race just about right.  It was a stressful one put it that way!”

Scott continued: “[Postma] fired off left down the first run and caught up a lot.  He took the other gate and then got a decent shift to get right back to a boat length behind me.  At the same time the Finnish guy was on the left and it was a very hard race to manage but I managed it somehow.”

The 28-year-old knows he cannot rest on his laurels with 11 months to go until the Olympic Games, with the rest of the Finn fleet working hard to catch him.

“For sure the fleet’s taken a bit of a leap forward over the last year.  We’ve got to be realistic with that and it’s a bit of an awakening to me and my coach Matt [Howard] and Ben Cornish that there’s still an awful lot of work that we’ve got to get done over the next year to try and get a bit of a gap away from them again.  We’ll see how that plays out.”

The 2012 silver medallists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark didn’t have the golden end to their regatta that they’d hoped for. Going into the final medal race assured of a medal but intent on keeping their yellow jerseys come the end of it, the duo were forced to take penalty turns after infringing another boat at the start and were left fighting back from the outset.

Their nearest American rivals sailed through to fourth in the medal race and with Mills and Clark in tenth, they wrested gold from the British duo by seven points.

“We made some massive errors off the startline, infringed somebody so had to do turns and then didn’t do the right amount of turns so had to do another penalty.  It was a mess,” said Mills matter-of-factly.

“We were so far behind at that point and a very strong left hand track it would seem that there was no way back into the race unfortunately.  We’re just very disappointed with our execution today and are very frustrated.”

“It’s particularly disappointing as we had an otherwise really great week in Rio.  It’s a really tricky place to sail and we dealt with it as best we could to be ahead going into the medal race.  We’ve said a lot that ultimately it is going to come down to the medal race next year so that’s something we need to look at.  It’s kind of like a 100m final – you can win the semis and it doesn’t matter much if you don’t perform in the final.”

The 470 Men’s event also didn’t play out the way Luke Patience and Elliot Willis had hoped.  With the points incredibly close across the finalists, there were many places to be gained and lost in the medal race.

A tenth place finish unfortunately saw the British duo drop from their fourth at the start of the day to eighth overall. Willis surmised:

“We had an average first beat, rounding in about eighth.  Everyone was fairly close and from then on there was a bit of a spread in the fleet and our job pretty much became impossible from that point.  We ended up finishing last.  It was quite a brutal day out really.”

“It was sad to end on that note as we’ve had a great week. It’s doesn’t really reflect how we sailed all week.  There are a few little things that we’ve got to work on looking forward.  As with any regatta you can look back at the points you’ve lost and accumulated throughout the week.  We’ll take away a lot of positives and move forward.”

The British Sailing Team ends this Olympic Test event fourth in the medal table with 19 nations – almost twice as many as at the 2014 Test Event – sharing the 30 medals available across the ten events.

RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park admits that his team didn’t have the regatta they would have hoped for.

“I think it’s been a difficult week and today was no different.  We came into the day thinking that maybe even three gold medals might have been possible, two golds and a silver likely, two golds probably.  We’ve come away with one gold and one silver so whichever way we look at it we can’t hide from the fact that that’s pretty disappointing.”

“On the brighter side it’s great to see Giles managing to claw his way back and get into gold medal position and just really show the class of sailor that he is and continue his unbeaten run.”

Park continued: “A number of our sailors in a number of the classes will be ruing some of the errors they made early on in the championship.  Rio’s a difficult venue. You can have some light wind days and if you’ve got a compressed schedule as we do now appear to have then there’s pressure on the race management to try and get those races in perhaps in conditions that they might otherwise choose not to.  There are also challenges about how many race areas we can run races in – quite often here you have wind inside the bay and not outside as we did yesterday.  All of those things add up to it being a long regatta, a tiring regatta and a challenging regatta.  But again everybody knows that and all the teams have found that. 

“We’ve had a lot of learning through the course of this regatta.  There’s a lot to take away and there’s a lot to think about, to debrief on. 

“The support staff, the coaches have really done a sterling job from the day we left the UK.  Not one of those people is hiding from the fact that we’re not here just to do our best, we’re here to win medals and that’s what we’re about.   I know that if we asked any one of the sailors in our programme I’m sure they’d give exactly the same response without any prompting from me. 

“It’s not the night that we were hoping for or the celebration that we were hoping for but it’s been a valuable learning experience.  It’s all part of the journey and that’s part of sport.  If the outcome was pre-determinable then it would be entertainment, not sport. 

“You’ve got to be happy to lose some just as you’re happy to win some.  We’ll take it on the chin, step forward and congratulate those who have done well.”

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