In true Friday fashion, British sailors have consolidated their positions at the top of the charts going into the final weekend of racing, as 13 boats book their berths for Saturday’s (10 June) first medal race day at the World Cup Series Final after four days of intense competition in Santander.
Rising 49er stars James Peters and Fynn Sterritt will start tomorrow’s medal race in pole position, just a point ahead of Polish pair Lukasz Przybytek-Pawel Kolodzinski, as they held onto their overnight lead. Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell are poised in the bronze medal position, but with the top four boats capable of golden glory, racing will come down to the wire.
However, Peters and Sterritt, who won their first major event in the form of Princess Sofia Regatta remain confident that they have what it takes as Sterritt explains: “We’re still clinging on to first, we’re a point ahead. We’ve been lying second earlier in the week and working our way up to the top, so we’ve been putting together a good consistent regatta.”
With a small but high quality fleet, it presents a different challenge for the pair as Sterritt describes: “It’s quite hard to put points onto other boats and stay ahead of them, but I feel we’ve done a good job at that so pretty happy.”
Peters continued: “We’re feeling positive, but it’s all to play for as first to fourth could all switch around. With there being four boats there’s probably not going to be an awful lot of direct match racing or anything like that so we’ve just got to go out there and beat the guys tomorrow.
“I think we’re fairly confident we can do that so feeling good about it,” admits Peters.
Jack Hawkins and Chris Thomas also made the medal race cut for Saturday in sixth place overall after with the help of two bullet earlier in the series.
Nacra pairings John Gimson-Anna Burnet and Tom Phipps-Nikki Boniface swapped positions in the day’s racing to see Gimson-Burnet a point ahead of their teammates going into the medal race. With Spaniards Erasun-Rijnsoever 18-points ahead, gold would be a tough, but not impossible, task for Gimson-Burnet.
Gimson admits their focus has been on foiling in past month, describing the week’s event as a ‘baptism of fire’ stepping back into the Nacra 17 short course racing.
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s race, Burnet commented: “I imagine it’s going to be close on points. I think the Spanish pair have a bit of a jump on, so there will be a battle for second. We’ll just go into it and try and win the race and do whatever we need to do to secure the medal.”
Also making the multi-hull medal race cut are Ben Saxton-Katie Dabson, Chris Rashley-Laura Marimon Giovannetti and Rupert White-Kirstie Urwin in fifth, seventh and ninth respectively, making it five British boats on the 10-boat start-line.
Overnight leaders Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey were edged off the top spot after Brazilians Soffiati Grael-Kunze clinched the final bullet. The pair will start tomorrow’s proceedings three-points from the leaders as they prepare for a fierce battle for the gold medal. Kate Macgregor-Sophie Ainsworth will join their teammates in the medal race, wrapping up their opening series in fourth.
Emma Wilson and Izzy Hamilton both booked their berths in Saturday’s Women’s RS:X medal race, qualifying in seventh and ninth respectively. Meanwhile Tom Squires’ three, two, four in the day’s proceedings sees the windsurfer advance to sixth. A strong medal race performance could see Squires still in with a shot at the bronze medal.
Saturday will be an equally crucial day for the Laser, Laser Radial, Finn and 470 Men’s and Women’s fleets with two more races per class to decide the line-up for Sunday’s final medal races.
Continuing their form at their first event together, Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre extend their lead at the top of Women’s 470 fleet, and will start tomorrow eight-points clear of their nearest rivals. After facing a starting penalty in the first race, Amy Seabright and Anna Carpenter slip to fifth, although with only three-points separating third to fifth it is still everything to play for.
The British Finn squad continue to assert their authority at the front of the fleet, as Ben Cornish leapfrogs teammate Ed Wright to take the lead overnight. Wright is poised in the bronze medal spot, while Henry Wetherell is fifth.
Nick Thompson’s first race win of the event advances him to fifth as he will be looking to consolidate his medal chances in the final two fleet races. Teammate Michael Beckett is eighth and will look to remain in the top-10 ready for Sunday’s medal race.
Martin Wrigley and James Taylor sit fifth overnight, meanwhile Laser Radial sailor Georgina Povall is 18th heading into Saturday’s final day of fleet racing.
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by Anisha Walkerley