British sailors wrapped up their World Cup Series Final with an eight-medal haul as racing in Santander drew to a close on Sunday (11 June).
Gold for James Peters-Fynn Sterritt and bronze for Dylan Fletcher-Stuart Bithell in the 49er, a British 2-3 in the Nacra 17 from John Gimson-Anna Burnet and Ben Saxton-Katie Dabson and a silver medal for 49er FX duo Charlotte Dobson-Saskia Tidey on Saturday was capped with a further three medals in Sunday’s final medal races.
In a demonstration of 470 prowess, Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre made it a second gold for the British Sailing Team. Having started the day in the top spot and with a 13-point cushion, the class act showed that despite being a scratch crew, they had what it took to leave the rest of the fleet in the dust.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing as a shift in the final race forced Mills-McIntyre to tack on to port coming off the start-line. The pair quickly locked into battle with Dutch duo Afrodite Zegers-Anneloes Van Veen, who started the day second, as they looked to defend gold.
Once round the first mark, their focus turned to securing the best medal race result, eventually crossing the line third, to see them the crowned runaway winners, an impressive 19 points ahead of the Dutch pair.
For Mills, this was her first 470 event since winning Rio Gold last summer, and despite training and competing in the 49er FX so far this season, the sailor proved unstoppable as the week went on.
Mills admits she’s feeling ‘relieved’ after securing gold: “Although we had a good points gap going into this medal race, I think that also adds pressure as everyone almost expects you to win so to come away and pull it off is a relief!”
With America’s Cup inspiration in full flow, there was motive behind a defensive first beat for the British pair.
“The conditions were so tricky, it felt the safest option was to actually take the Dutch girls and try and practice a bit of a match race. You don’t often get the opportunity when you’re far enough ahead to guarantee a silver so we thought we would see what we could do and it pulled off quite nicely!” Mills elaborated.
McIntyre reflected on their week: “We had no pressure coming into it [the event], a new team figuring things out, but we had a speed edge.”
“It’s pretty cool, we did three days training before the event, so it’s really good but sailing with a gold medallist helps though, doesn’t it?” laughed McIntyre.
Fellow British Sailing Team crew Amy Seabright and Anna Carpenter finished the medal race ninth to see them end their week seventh overall.
It has a been closely fought battle at the front of the Finn fleet throughout the event as three boats aimed to top the podium, with just a few points separating the sailors going into the final title clash.
An incredibly tense finale saw the medal colours constantly change as Brits Ben Cornish and Ed Wright, and Hungarian Zsombor Berecz fought tooth-and-nail for every last place.
A nail-biting end to medal race action saw Cornish penalised for a rule infringement and it looked like it might be over, but in a dramatic turn of events Berecz was also forced to take a penalty turn resulting in Cornish crossing the line two places ahead of his rival, with it snatching gold.
Cornish, elated and relieved, described the intense last race: “That was an exciting race! I’m sure for everyone watching as well, with a lot of lead changes, a lot of times when people were winning and then they weren’t.
“The start was key, with a lot of people being over the line and actually I wasn’t aware until the end that I wasn’t one of them. It’s hard in the battle as you don’t really know where you are. The last run was really important, Ed had just got ahead of me at the final windward mark, but I managed to hook into a bit more wind and got round him.
“It was a great race and a great effort from those boys [Berecz and Wright].”
“I’ve had quite a good season so far, and what I really needed was the gold so it’s great to come away with the win,” reflected Cornish, who made in a third British World Cup Final triumph.
There was disappointment for Ed Wright as he was unable to upgrade his third place in a challenging final race. Wright rounds off his event with the bronze medal, clinching an eighth British Sailing Team medal. Compatriot Henry Wetherell also contested the medal race finishing seventh overall.
Elsewhere in the final day’s action, Nick Thompson started fifth in the 10-boat Laser line up, however with a large point deficit, it would have always been a long-shot for a British medal. Thompson sailed a superb race to take the final event bullet, but with the medal contenders snapping at his heels, the Rio Olympian was unable to capitalise and remained fifth overall.
Starting in tenth and outside of medal contention, Lorenzo Chiavarini in an all or nothing final Laser race, risked the right-hand first beat in a bid to climb the scoreboard. A sterling effort and a third place finish resulted in Chiavarini advancing to eighth, whilst Michael Beckett wrapped up his week in ninth. Martin Wrigley and James Taylor finished sixth in Men’s 470 event.
2017 World Cup Series Final:
James Peters-Fynn Sterritt (49er)
Hannah Mills-Eilidh McIntyre (470 Women)
Ben Cornish (Finn)
John Gimson-Anna Burnett (Nacra 17)
Charlotte Dobson-Saskia Tidey (49er FX)
Ben Saxton-Katie Dabson (Nacra 17)
Dylan Fletcher-Stuart Bithell (49er)
Ed Wright (Finn)
Full results from the 2017 World Cup Series Final in Santander.
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