McIntyre on top of world after big break

Eilidh McIntyre, right, accompanies Sophie Weguelin in the 470 class  Picture: Richard Langdon/RYA
Eilidh McIntyre, right, accompanies Sophie Weguelin in the 470 class Picture: Richard Langdon/RYA
Yachts taking part in last years Clipper Round the World Race			             	  Picture: onEdition

‘Team spirit’ will keep us buoyant on global challenge

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Rising Hayling Island sailing star Eilidh McIntyre overcame the handicap of a recently-broken finger to salvage some British Sailing Team Olympic class pride at the Hyeres World Cup event.

McIntyre picked up the injury in a February training accident, forcing her and 470 sailing partner Sophie Weguelin to miss the Palma edition of the World Cup series three weeks ago.

However, she got the nod to race at the eleventh hour in the French Riviera competition and took silver – the only medal won by British Olympic sailors.

‘It was a really fantastic week,’ said McIntyre.

‘We sailed really well but just started to get a bit tired towards the end of the week as our sailing fitness isn’t really there.

‘But we’re so pleased. To do so well in spite of that is really brilliant.

‘We’re in a great position (for the season), especially as we feel we weren’t a million miles off.

‘We were right there during the week and that’s a really positive place to be.’

McIntyre is maintaining a family yacht-racing tradition as her father Mike won gold in the Star class at the  1988 Seoul Olympics.

Her silver was added to the Paralympic gold won by British Sonar trio John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas – and a bronze by Paralympian Megan Pascoe in the 2.4mR event.

Elsewhere, it was a case of close but not close enough.

Portsmouth racer John Pink, who has only been sailing with Stuart Bithell since Christmas, went in to the 49er class medal races with a chance of glory but had to settle for fifth.

Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth were unable to improve on their fourth place in the 49erFX class, while Britain had three boats in the Nacra 17 medal race fleet.

World silver medallists Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond were disappointed not to improve on their fifth place going into the final day.

They ended their event in sixth, with Lucy Macgregor-Andrew Walsh ninth and Pippa Wilson-John Gimson 10th.

Nick Thompson also sailed a solid medal race in the Laser class, finishing third for an overall fifth, while podium potential sailor Hannah Snellgrove made the most of her first World Cup medal race opportunity in the Laser Radial class to finish eighth overall.

Nick Dempsey was also in final-day action in the RS:X men’s windsurfing event, finishing seventh in the final race and 10th overall.

The UK’s dominant Finn squad  was preparing for May’s Finn European Championships, and RS:X women’s windsurfers focused on domestic training.

RYA Olympic manager Stephen Park admitted: ‘There are ups and downs and justifications for all the individual classes, but at the end of the day we would have liked to have thought we would have come away with more than one medal in the Olympic classes.

‘What is interesting is that there wasn’t a dominance by any one particular country.

‘That does reflect the continuing rise in the level of competition – it’s getting ever harder to win and to dominate.

‘But we have to be careful not to make excuses for things where we expect to perform better.’