Room for improvement for GB

Byrony Shaw Picture; Lloyd Images
Byrony Shaw Picture; Lloyd Images
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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British sailors hit the team target at the World Championships in Santander but left the Spanish venue having let several medal opportunities slip through their fingers.

On the plus side, the British Sailing Team took four medals – including gold for Finn star Giles Scott – and booked the single national spot available in each of the 10 Olympic sailing classes for the Rio games.

However, the medal haul – completed by bronzes for Laser sailor Nick Thompson, 470 pair Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark and Scott’s Finn class-mate Ed Wright – felt like a poor return given the squad had been well placed earlier in the regatta, which was also the world championships for each class.

The British team had sailors in all 10 of the double-point medal-race finales.

But even when within reach of a podium spot, they often saw the chance snatched away.

It was particularly painful for windsurfer Bryony Shaw, who was in a medal place halfway through the decider, only to finish fifth.

‘I’m pretty sad, gutted,’ said a visibly-distressed Shaw after the race.

‘I gave myself a chance and unfortunately I blew it.’

Fellow windsurfer Nick Dempsey was also fifth and the 470 Men’s pairing of Luke Patience-Elliot Willis came an agonising fourth despite a second-place finish in the medal race.

Portsmouth’s John Pink and 49er partner Stuart Bithell were third in their medal race but could only finish sixth overall, while 49erFX team-mates Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth had to settle for seventh.

Ali Young was ninth in the Laser Radial class, with Lucy Macgregor-Andrew Walsh seventh in the Nacra 17 – one in front of Hampshire’s Pippa Wilson and John Gimson.

Though out of medal contention, the last-minute 470 pairing of Chichester’s Christina Bassadone and Hayling Island’s Eilidh McIntyre deserve a mention in despatches after fighting their way into the medal race to finish ninth overall.

‘We’ve had a good showing across the classes and we’ve been in the running for medals in nine out of the 10 classes,’ said RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park.

‘But, ultimately, it’s about winning medals and our sailors will be disappointed that we’ve not won more and we’ve let some opportunities slip away.

‘However, it’s been pleasing to have managed to qualify the country for the Olympic Games at the first opportunity in each of the 10 events, and to come away with four medals which was in line with our target coming here.’

Park added: ‘The event’s definitely highlighted some areas that need some work over the winter time and a number of sailors will be going home disappointed, particularly bearing in mind the progress we made in the Rio Test Event earlier in the year and the performances that we had there.’