Wind holds back Brits’ Olympic plans

Portsmouth's John Pink, right, and Rick Peacock in action at the French World Cup Regetta in Hyeres    Picture: Skandia Team GBR

Portsmouth's John Pink, right, and Rick Peacock in action at the French World Cup Regetta in Hyeres Picture: Skandia Team GBR

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The weather denied several British sailors the chance of medals at the French World Cup Regatta in Hyeres as the build-up to the Olympics continues.

However, Winchester’s Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson confirmed they will be the team to beat in the Star class with another gold-medal-winning performance, despite breaking their mast on the penultimate day.

And the UK’s Paralympic sailors also shone in the breezy conditions, winning a gold and two silvers in their three classes.

There was frustration, though, for a number of would-be Olympians.

In the 49er class, Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes were poised in fourth on equal points with the third-placed Danish boat, but were denied a podium chance when the double-pointed medal race finale was called off in strong winds.

Portsmouth’s John Pink and Rick Peacock had also qualified for the medal race in 10th place.

And the increasingly-intense battle for the sole 49er Olympic slot continues with the start of the class’ 2012 world championship in Croatia tomorrow.

Also denied a medal chance were Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor, who finished fourth in the women’s match-racing event.

The strong wind conditions meant race officials were unable to complete a potentially-decisive final round-robin match for the GBR trio against the USA’s Sally Barkow, meaning the medals were decided on percentage wins.

And after a promising week, there was disappointment for Alison Young in the laser radial event.

Despite taking four wins, she missed out on the podium by one victory. 

Charlotte Dobson finished ninth in the class, and she and Young will go head to head once again at the Laser Radial Worlds in Germany next Friday for the only other Olympic sailing slot to be decided.

‘After the mixed and light wind World Cup Regatta in Palma, Hyeres has proven a windy weather contrast for the majority of the week,’ said Hamble-based RYA Olympic manager Stephen Park.

‘Despite this playing havoc with the race management plans, the outcomes have been promising for Skandia Team GBR.

‘It’s particularly pleasing to see all three of our Paralympic classes on the podium and being in a position that we were realistically racing for gold in the laser radial.

‘Following the silver for Percy and Simpson in Palma, taking the gold by a comfortable margin here provides confidence that they’re on the right track.’  

Park added: ‘It’s been a particularly frustrating week for the 49ers and women’s match racers where the programme has been curtailed by the strong winds.

‘One more race in both fleets would have given the match-racing girls and Morrison and Rhodes a good chance of being on the podium in their respective classes. 

‘Unfortunately, that’s just the way it goes sometimes, and is just another justification for why we need to be competitive in all our events.’

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