Podium Potential 49er talents James Peters and Fynn Sterritt secured their first senior international regatta victory as the Princess Sofia Trophy drew to close in Palma on Saturday (1 April).
Silver for Elliot Hanson and Nacra 17 duo John Gimson-Anna Burnett, along with bronze medals for Nick Thompson and Dylan Fletcher-Stuart Bithell, made it five medals for the British Sailing Team at the conclusion of the six-day event.
In the 49er Peters and Sterritt went into the medal race day one point ahead of their nearest rivals, Diego Botin-Iago Lopez. But with four boats still capable of winning the event in the final three races it looked like it was going to be a challenging day.
With the wind building as the morning went on, the 49er sailors were scheduled to start second on their medal race course. However racing was subsequently cancelled for the men’s skiff meaning Peters-Sterritt remained at the top of leaderboard after a consistently strong performance all week.
After finding out racing had be cancelled and the gold medal was secured, a thrilled Peters said: “It feels great to have won, we’ve been putting in some good results for a while but we hadn’t got ourselves in to the top three at a major regatta before, so to win this week is awesome.”
“I was feeling a little bit nervous coming in to this morning, but we’ve been training hard over the winter,” added Sterritt who, along with Peters, has trained in Cadiz squad camps in similar conditions to today’s breeze.
“I’m confident we would have been able to get around the course,” continued Sterritt. “It’s a shame we didn’t get any racing in today but I think it was the right decision from the race committee.”
With Fletcher-Bithell also on the podium picking up the bronze medal, Peters commented on the strong British 49er squad: “The strength of Dylan and Stu as well as the younger guys in the team gives us a massive opportunity to use each other and push each other. It’s a real strength for us as a team.”
The 49er duo will now look forward to their next event, World Cup Hyeres, later in the month where they hope to continue their Palma form.
Hanson narrowly missed out his on first senior international championship gold in the tough double-point medal race. The 23-year-old took the lead heading into the medal race after a strong day on Friday and a consistent series all week. With three bullets in the opening series, Hanson started today guaranteed the gold or silver medal.
The Macclesfield sailor had a difficult start finishing the final race in 10th, while Italian Francesco Marrai took sixth to take the gold medal by one point.
Coming off the water following on the race, Hanson expressed his disappointed: “The medal race didn’t go to plan in the end. I had control of Marrai pre-start, but with a right shift on the start line I got stuck on the outside of the committee boat and there wasn’t enough time to reposition.
“With no way of getting back in position I was about 10 seconds late on to the race course. There was only one left shift on that beat and I was furthest right, so in the end not a good day.”
Reflecting on what has been a strong event overall, Hanson concluded: “It’s been a good week and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season ahead”.
Sharing Hanson’s disappointed was teammate and Rio Olympian Nick Thompson: “I feel a bit bad for Elliot, he’s sailed an awesome regatta and I think he deserved to win, but it’s good to see things are moving in the right direction for the whole of the British team.
“The wind picked up pretty quickly out there. We started today with light winds and a postponement, but it was forecast to build and we ended up having about 20 knots out there.”
Wishing there were more races in the final day breeze, Thompson described the conditions as ‘fantastic’ for the last race of the regatta.
“I had a good medal race and managed to take the win. It was always going to be difficult from where I was to jump up the leaderboard but I did everything I could.”
Despite taking the final bullet, with Marrai and Hanson too many points ahead, Thompson was unable to upgrade his overnight third place position and settled for the bronze medal.
Whilst Thompson was clear from the outset that for him this event was never about the end result, he was pleased that despite approaching the regatta in a new way, he still secured a step on the podium.
“It was a rewarding week and to get a medal is a bit of icing on the cake,” he added.
After a challenging final two days, Nacra duo Gimson-Burnett went into the day in second position. The pair had already guaranteed themselves a medal, with the double-point medal race also providing the opportunity to challenge for gold.
With the Nacra 17 event also hampered by the weather, the duo took home the silver as the breeze showed no signs of tiring as racing was eventually abandoned. Fellow British Nacra boat Tom Phipps-Nikki Boniface finished in the event in fourth.
The windsurfers meanwhile revelled in the breeziest conditions of the week. With the Palma regatta trialling a new race format, those ranked third to 12th had secured their quarter-final spots. All started the day in the same position with a blank scoresheet. Kieran Martin, having qualified on Friday, finished fourth in the quarter final race. The 22-year-old bowed out of the semi-final to wrap up his week in sixth.
Emma Wilson, having finished 10th in this year’s World Cup Miami, started the day ninth in what has been a strong regatta for the Christchurch windsurfer. Comfortably through the quarter final, Wilson also missed out on a place in the final and joined Martin in sixth.
Elsewhere in final day action, 49er FX duo Charlotte Dobson-Saskia Tidey concluded their event in sixth. As the wind picked up, the pair took the bullet in the first of three scheduled medal races. With only two boats finishing the second race, the racing was abandoned for the day.
Full event results can be found at www.trofeoprincesasofia.org/en/default/races/race-resultsall.
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