Giles Scott sealed ISAF Sailing World Cup victory in style with a win in the Finn medal decider to bring Britain’s tally to four medals on the final day of racing in Hyeres, France, on Sunday (26 April).
Scott’s stablemate Ed Wright also took bronze in the Finn event, with silver going to Nick Thompson in the Laser, and bronze to Luke Patience and Elliot Willis in the 470 Men’s class.
The World Champion Scott already had one foot on the top step of the podium with a near-unassailable 19 point lead heading into the final 10-boat double points race on Sunday.
But there was no let up from the 27-year-old, as he claimed the final race win to amass a 24 point winning margin, and claim one World Cup title which had thus far eluded him.
After a week of light wind, shifty conditions on the French Riviera, 15-20 knot winds provided a fantastic platform for the live streamed coverage of the medal races, as Scott explained.
“We had some glamour sailing – 18 knots, big waves and good fun. It was a nice way to round off a good week, so to come away with a win in the medal race is a perfect end.”
“It really wasn’t [an easy win]. The conditions this week have been tricky and shifty and it’s been a real test of nerve. It’s been really high scoring, so to come away and be the most consistent out there was for sure very rewarding.
“I was beaten here a couple of years ago by Andrew Mills, who’s now retired, so to be able to come here and right that is really nice. To win here is a great feeling,” Scott concluded.
Ed Wright had set his sights on reeling in Slovenia’s Vasilij Zbogar to take the overall silver, but was left fighting back after a tough start.
“I am happy with bronze,” admitted Wright, who also won bronze at last year’s World Championships.
“I just got stuck in with a lot of boats off the startline and kind of played pinball up the first beat with Vasco, but he managed to pull away on the run.
“We were very close at the next top mark but I had to duck a lot of boats. In the end I managed to get third but I’m still happy.”
Nick Thompson was ultimately satisfied with his silver medal after a tough battle with Australia’s Tom Burton, with the two of them effectively on level points at the top of the Laser leaderboard and fighting it out for gold in the final race.
Burton seemed to find superior downwind speed to take the advantage over the British four-time World Championship medallist, but Thompson insists he enjoyed the duel.
“It was a really good race in that we both rounded at the front of the fleet at the first mark,” Thompson recalled.
“Pretty much it was a battle all the way round – we were swapping places a little bit and gaining on each other all the way round. It came down to the last downwind leg where he was ahead so I had to split and lost a few places, but at the end of the day it was either a win or not.
“The emotion for me right now is pretty positive. Last year was a lot of bronze medals, certainly this year is looking a lot more silvers, and hopefully the next few events and next year will be golds!”
Luke Patience and Elliot Willis maintained their podium run in the 470 Men’s event, claiming bronze amid a closely-fought finale. Gold had already gone to the Croatia duo of Sime Fantela-Igor Marenic, but the remaining medal places were up for grabs between the British duo, Australians Mat Belcher-Will Ryan and the German crew of Ferdinand Gerz-Oliver Szymanski.
The Australian World Champions Belcher and Ryan took the medal race victory to Patience and Willis’s sixth, but it was enough to keep the British duo on the podium.
“It’s slightly disappointing to lose a silver in the medal race,” Willis admitted having gone into the day in overall second, “but we sailed a good medal race and it’s lovely to come away with a medal at the end of what’s been a tough week. We’ve both been under the weather a little bit but we’ve battled through and sailed well.”
“We’re constantly working on this and we brought a couple of new things here from Palma where we felt we didn’t sail as well as we could have done, but got a silver medal. We picked up a bronze here but we felt like we sailed better, the boat felt nicer, and we’ve got plenty to work towards and look forward to.”
There was disappointment, however, for Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark who’d harboured hopes of medal-winning finish to their week but ended up in fourth place in the 470 Women’s event. The Olympic silver medallists were just a point from the podium and two points from the silver medal position after a tight final race in the women’s double-handed class.
Elsewhere on the final day, Nacra 17 pairing Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves finished in fifth place, with British 49er crews Dylan Fletcher-Alain Sign, James Peters-Fynn Sterritt and John Pink-Stuart Bithell ending their regattas in fifth, seventh and eighth places respectively.
Women’s windsurfer Bryony Shaw, happy to have qualified for the RS:X medal race after an illness-marred week, was seventh overall and Laser Radial sailor Alison Young rounded her regatta off in eighth place.
RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park surmised: “The new World Cup format has been a great success. The quality of the racing has been extremely high, with a number of countries featuring this event as part of their Olympic selection trials.
“It’s great that the British Sailing Team has been competing for medals in five classes coming into the last day, although it’s slightly disappointing that we didn’t manage to improve our standings in the medal races. Downwind speed in a number of classes was not as good as we’ve been accustomed to and I’m sure will be a focus in the training period in the run up to the next World Cup in Weymouth and Portland.
“While a number of our sailors will be disappointed, competition has been high across the nations, and any slip-up, error, or illness will impact heavily on the final result, which is why we continue to have a focus on remaining medal competitive across all the classes,” Park continued.
“However we’ve come away with a reasonable medal count in line with our pre-event expectations so that’s pleasing. Everyone knows there’s still plenty of work to do ahead of the big events later in the season and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”