British sailors insist their World Cup experiences will stand them in good stead for the major events of the season as they endured a frustrating final day of competition in Hyeres on Sunday (30 April).
Having secured two medals in the 49er and 49erFX events on Saturday, the British Sailing Team had contenders and medal chances in four out of the five medal races on the closing day of this second round of the World Cup series, but narrowly missed out in each of them to finish fourth in the Laser, Laser Radial, Finn and 470 Women’s events.
But with European Championship honours up for grabs in some classes as early as next week, the Hyeres regatta served as a useful warm-up for the season ahead and the chance to fine tune ahead of those key competitions.
The Finn class is one of those to be hosting its Europeans off the back of the World Cup event, along the coast in in Marseilles, and both Ed Wright and Ben Cornish are keen to improve on their respective fourth and eighth places this week.
Wright, a former World Champion in the men’s heavyweight class, went into the final day wearing the red third place bib, but a startline penalty quickly put him on the back foot in the battle for bronze.
“It was difficult and there wasn’t really that much wind to have any passing lanes,” recalled Wright, who finished eighth in the final race.
“This was really a training event ahead of the Europeans and actually I’m feeling pretty confident in my speed. The Turkish guy was exceptional this week on his speed but when I was racing against him in the last part I was able to beat him a couple of times and race, so I was actually quite happy about that.
“My downwinds are good and so hopefully I’ll go [to Marseilles] and put it together.”
Ben Cornish, who finished fifth on the water today and eighth overall, was also looking ahead to his European Championship challenge.
“We’ve got some good points taken from the week and we’ve definitely got some areas addressed which I think we can have some effect with before we get into Marseilles next week at the Europeans.
“We’re not far off the right place so a few little tidy ups and I think we’ll be there or thereabouts next week.”
Amy Seabright and Anna Carpenter will also aim to learn some World Cup lessons as they prepare for the 470 European Championships in Monaco next week.
The young talents went into the final race in a tight battle for the silver and bronze medals, with gold already gone to the Dutch duo of Afrodite Zegers-Annaloes van Veen, but they were disappointed to finish tenth in the medal race and slip out of the podium positions to fourth.
“We went in with a chance to get silver and have come out fourth which is really, really disappointing. But we still had a good week - we were in there in the battle for medals today so even though the medal race didn’t go as we wanted it to, we’re still quite positive going into our Europeans.”
“We had good speed this week, so that’s a good boost going into the Europeans and there are lots of little learning points from the racing this week that we can take.”
“The leaders at the first windward mark basically came off the line and held on starboard, went out to the left where there was a bit more pressure, whereas we were forced to tack out right and it just wasn’t as good there so we ended up doing a few more tacks around,” Carpenter analysed afterwards.
“That was kind of the winning move was to hold and go fast.”
Laser and Laser Radial World Champions Nick Thompson and Alison Young both started the final day in fourth place, and found themselves with little opportunity amid the light winds to break through into the medal positions.
Young was pragmatic about her medal race display, where she finished seventh, and pointed to mistakes earlier in the regatta.
“My performance on the water has been a bit hit and miss at times. In the medal race today I could have been faster and I could have made better decisions, but ultimately I made bigger mistakes earlier in the week that cost me more.”
“But we’ve highlighted some things that have moved forward,” the two-time Olympian continued. “There’s some technique stuff that we’ve been working on in training and there were some big opportunities to correct some of the mistakes I’ve been making in the last couple of regattas.”
It was a tall order for Nick Thompson to reel in the 11 point gap to bronze going into the final day, and after a difficult start to the race the Palma bronze medallist finished seventh to maintain his overall fourth place.
“The top ten here are obviously all awesome sailors and it made for a really close race the whole way round,” Thompson explained. “There were lots of position changes but pretty much round the windward mark it was going to be difficult for me to overhaul third place in the regatta.
“From there at a point it almost became about protecting fourth which obviously not what I wanted to do. A decision on the first beat allowing the Australian to split from me kind of cost me the chance of a medal.”
“I said at the beginning of the week I’m really here to try and improve on a few different areas and I think I’ve managed to do that quite nicely. Things are moving in the right direction but I think it’s maybe time to start winning some events now.”
The British Sailing Team will next be in action at the RS:X European Championships and Finn European Championships in Marseilles, and the 470 European Championships in Monaco with racing from 8-13 May.
Full regatta results from round two of the 2017 World Cup Series in Hyeres, France.
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