There was cause for celebration as British sailors secured five podium finishes on the first day of World Cup medal race action in Santander, Spain, on Saturday (10 June).
The bay of Santander played host to a speculator finale, with bright sunshine and light winds providing the ideal viewing platform as crowds gathered to watch the battles ensue.
First up was the Nacra fleet with racing coming down to wire for the silver and bronze medals as four boats battled it out for two podium spots after Spanish pair Fernando Echavarri Erasun-Tara Pacheco Van Rijnsoever had all but secured the gold on the penultimate day of racing.
A third place finish for John Gimson and Anna Burnet in a nail-biting finale was enough to hold onto the silver medal after a week of close racing.
Burnet described their elation: “It feels really good, we’re pleased with how we sailed this week. We made a few errors, but we know exactly where we went wrong.
“But to go out today in tricky conditions in the medal racing and execute the race we needed to secure the silver means we’re very happy with our performance!”
The pair’s attention will now turn to the evolution of the multihull class as Gimson says: “Our next focus event is the Europeans, but we’re heading to Bermuda next week to train out there until we get the new boat [foiling Nacra] and do as much foiling as we can do.”
Ben Saxton and Katie Dabson delivered a light-wind masterclass to grab the final bullet and with it steal the bronze medal in an unexpected turn of events, as places changed throughout the fleet in a snakes and ladders race.
Whilst Saxton’s focus was on the race in the hand, he explained what went through his mind in the post-race moments: “When we finished, I looked back and saw where the other guys were, I thought ‘that went really quite well’, so I knew just after we crossed the line that we had done it. Before then we were just racing really hard.”
Dabson, at her first Nacra 17 event, was thrilled to end a ‘tough’ week on a high: “It’s been a big learning curve but I’m slowly getting the hang of it, but it’s been good fun and I’ve really enjoyed it.”
“I’m really just really happy to have won a medal, because coming out and performing when you need to is what this sport is about,” Saxton concluded.
After a challenging medal race, Tom Phipps and Nikki Boniface had to settle for fifth overall, ahead of Chris Rashley-Laura Marimon Giovannetti in sixth. Rupert White-Kirstie Urwin wrapped up their event 10th.
With four boats in the mix for golden glory, overnight leaders James Peters-Fynn Sterritt knew it was everything to play for if they were to cement their place at the top of the 49er scoreboard. The British pairing, who have been on fire all week, finished second, enough to secure the top spot with 7-points to spare.
The pair had a clear plan going into the deciding race as Sterritt explained: “To make smart decision, not do anything too extreme, and it paid off today”.
Peters described their event: “We just sailed really consistently all week, we didn’t actually win any races but we just went out there and put ourselves in the mix in every race.
“Ultimately over 14 races that’s what it took to win so we’re really, really happy with how we’ve sailed.”
“It’s been a great week for us, starting well, good boat speed, made smart decisions. It meant that every race, apart from one, we were in there and in a good position,” summed up Peters.
Teammates Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell also defended their position to take the bronze, making it a third consecutive World Cup medal in the pair’s first season together. Fellow Brits Jack Hawkins-Chris Thomas end their week seventh, their best major event result so far in the 49er.
Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey held on tightly to the silver spot going in to the 49er FX finale to secure their second medal as a pairing.
The duo, who won their maiden medal at the Sailing World Cup Hyeres, were thrilled: “It’s been an absolutely great week of sailing for us, it’s a process regatta, we’re to work our starting and those goals have been really good with really big improvements there,” smiled Dobson.
“It’s lovely, despite it being a process regatta, to come away with a silver medal having sailed really well with plenty of headroom still to go so we’re really, really happy.”
Tidey described her event highlights: “I’ve enjoyed working through problems together and through the good times as well, and figuring out what sort of campaign we want to put together going forward. We’ll keep working on our process goals and looking forward to the next regatta to improve again.”
Despite crossing the line second in the medal race, Kate Macgregor and Sophie Ainsworth missed out of the podium finishing their event fourth.
It wasn’t to be for the British windsurfers as a tough medal race for Tom Squires sees him finish the week sixth overall. Meanwhile, in the women’s RS:X Emma Wilson and Izzy Hamilton finished eighth and ninth respectively.
Elsewhere, the British Sailing Team qualified nine boats in medal race berths for Sunday’s finals in the Finn, Laser, Laser Radial and 470 Women’s events.
A race win and a third sees Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre extend their lead in the Women’s 470 fleet as they head into the medal race 13 points clear of nearest rivals, Dutch duo Zegers-Van Veen.
Mills and McIntyre will be joined in Sunday’s line-up by Amy Seabright and Anna Carpenter who will be looking to climb back up the fleet. The pair will start in sixth, with a 9-point margin to overcome if are they to present a challenge for bronze.
In the Finn finale, Ben Cornish and Ed Wright will do battle for gold as they will line up in silver and bronze positions. Cornish will start four points behind overnight leader Zsombor Berecz, whilst Wright will be looking to make up the 2-point gap to catch his teammate and clinch a medal upgrade.
Also joining the Finn fleet is Henry Wetherell in fifth, meanwhile Martin Wrigley and James Taylor book their Men’s 470 medal race berth in sixth.
Following a starting penalty in the final fleet race, Nick Thompson will have a challenge on his hands tomorrow with a 12-point deficit to overcome in order to land a medal. Michael Beckett will also feature in the Laser medal race alongside Lorenzo Chiavarini who posted 5,4 in the day’s proceedings to break into the top-10.
Full regatta results from round two of the 2017 World Cup Series Final in Santander, Spain. For all the latest news from the British Sailing Team, follow us at www.britishsailingteam.com, on Facebook, on Twitter @BritishSailing and on Instagram @BritishSailing.
Medal Races for 470 Men, 470 Women, Finn and Laser will conclude on Sunday 11 June. Catch all the live action on British Sailing Team’s YouTube Channel.