Fareham’s Pink content after hitting back to star in Euros

John Pink and Stuart Bithell. Picture: Paul Wyeth/RYA
John Pink and Stuart Bithell. Picture: Paul Wyeth/RYA
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Fareham star John Pink and his crew Stuart Bithell fought back from a penultimate day disqualification to finish third at the 49er European Championships, which drew to a close on Sunday in Porto, Portugal.

World number one-ranked duo Pink and Bithell, who claimed bronze at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Weymouth and Portland last month, were the second-best European crew at the six-day Open regatta – which permits off-continent entries.

New Zealand’s world champions Pete Burling and Blair Tuke sealed the overall regatta victory with Germany’s Justus Schmidt and Max Boehme, the top European crew, second.

Fellow British Sailing Team pairing Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign were sixth overall – and fourth of the Europeans.

Pink and Bithell were disappointed to fall foul of a jury decision on Saturday – which saw them disqualified for an alleged port-starboard incident with the Kiwi crew.

It left the British duo in eighth ahead of the final day, where three gold fleet races and a 10-boat double-points medal race were planned.

After a short postponement at the start of the day, the British duo came out fighting – posting a third and a 16th in their first two races.

‘We were pretty happy to come back so strong,’ said Pink.

‘We had a good first race and an average second.

‘We didn’t actually know the points but we thought at that time we were still going to have a medal race.’

The British pair rounded off the final fleet race in style with a race win.

But the committee ran out of time to stage the medal race, leaving Pink and Bithell as the second European crew and bronze medallists.

‘We had a few silly mistakes that cost us a few places but other than that we raced very well and went pretty quick,’ said Pink.

‘We’ve just got to cut those little bits out and we’ll be pushing even harder on the Kiwis.’

The pair will have a break before flying to Rio for the Olympic Test Event in August.

– LINDSEY BELL