Silver success for Sonars and Olympic Classes set for close finals in France

Written by RYA | 30 April 2016

Paralympic Sonar team scoops silver with five GBR crews in medal positions heading into final day in Hyeres

World Cup silver for the Paralympic Sonar trio of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas opened up the British medal tally in Hyeres on Saturday (30 April), while British teams have qualified for Sunday’s Olympic Classes medal race in five podium positions.

The Sonar trio, reigning World Champions, went in to the final day of competition for the Paralympic classes in overall third place, but a race win in the first of their two races pulled them up into the silver medal spot.

In spite of retiring from the second race of the day for inadvertently failing to complete penalty turns for an adjudged infringement, the trio held on to their silver medal at the first of a three-regatta stint they’ll do over the next month as they build up towards Rio.

“It’s been a good week. We had an objective coming in to the week to try and do the simple things well, try and get up to speed with the rest of the fleet and I think we achieved that,” Thomas explained.

“We had three race wins, which is really good. We had a bit of a sticky middle day with a third and a couple of middle scores so we dropped back into third place going in to today, but we managed to come back into second. It was a good up and down week with some fight in there.”

The trio feel that they’re in a good position with four months to go to the Paralympics, but that there are opportunities for improvement.

“I think it’s about being consistently accurate right now, doing the simple things well, getting off the front row, having good boat speed and making the right decisions and intelligent decisions.

“We have plenty of opportunities to work on that now with Garda coming up and Medemblik which is the World Championship as well, so there will be a bit of pressure on us to try and perform at the Worlds just before the Games.”

Helena Lucas enacted a good comeback in the first of her final two races in the 2.4mR Paralympic fleet on Saturday, but a 12th place in the second race saw her drop out of the medals and finish her regatta in fourth overall. In the Olympic Classes, the stage is set for some nail-biting medal races on Sunday, with Nacra 17 pairing Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves taking the yellow jerseys in to their final day of racing.

The Rio-bound duo picked up a 6,3,3 from their three races – the second best score in the multihull fleet today – to elevate them from overnight fourth into the lead with just the double-points medal race to go. It will be a tight battle for the podium spots, with five crews in the running for the three podium spots, including the Italian crew Bissaro-Sicouri who are tied on points with the British duo.

“We’re confident,” Groves smiled. “A lot of people had good races – all the top guys were pretty much up there today so it will be pretty tight on points. It will be good to come out fighting tomorrow.”

“We came here for some more racing practice as there’s not much racing left to go before the Games, and hopefully to get a medal,” Groves continued, with Saxton adding “we’ll be disappointed from this position if we don’t get one!”

“We weren’t aiming for an outcome coming into here, but when you’re in this position it’s nice to finish it off,” he added.

The 470 Women’s event will be another closely-fought affair, with Britons Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark just a point behind the French series leaders, and three points ahead of the Brazilian crew in third heading in to the final medal race.

The 2012 silver medallists’ penultimate day improved as it went on, with the duo posting a 24th before recovering to fourth and fifth in their subsequent two races. Teammates Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre also qualified for Sunday’s ten boat finale in tenth place.

Bryony Shaw just needs to sail a clean race to be assured of a podium finish in the RS:X women’s event, where she’ll start in silver medal position six points behind the Polish leader Zofia Noceti-Klepacka and three points ahead of local heroine Charline Picon.

Nick Dempsey will also be in the mix in the RS:X men’s medal race, heading in to the final day in bronze medal position – a position that Laser Radial World Champion Alison Young will look to defend in her medal race on Sunday.

Young won both of her races on Saturday to pull back into the medal positions from her overnight fifth. Three British crews will battle it out in the 49er medal race on Sunday, with James Peters-Fynn Sterritt, Dylan Fletcher-Alain Sign and John Pink-Stuart Bithell in fourth, fifth and sixth places respectively and all with a medal chance.

Nick Thompson qualified for the Laser medal race in fifth, while Luke Patience and Chris Grube made the top ten cut in the 470 Men’s event. They’ll go into the final race in ninth.

Sunday’s medal races will be broadcast live via the British Sailing Team website.

Schedule of medal racing for Sunday 1 May (times are local):
North course (Live broadcast):
11:10 – 470 Women
11:50 - Laser
12:30 - Finn
13:10 - Nacra 17
13:50 - 49er
14:25 - RS:X Men
15:05 - RS:X Women

South course:
11:25 – 470 Men
12:10 - Laser Radial
12:55 - 49erFX


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