FAREHAM sailor John Pink is celebrating after securing bronze on home waters at the Weymouth and Portland Sailing World Cup event.
Pink scored a podium place after a strong week in the 49er class as he and crew Stuart Bithell edged out Stokes Bay’s Alain Sign and Dylan Fletcher, who finished in fifth place overall.
It’s nice to have started in the Solent and to now have a chance to go on to Rio.John Pink
New Zealanders Peter Burling and Blair Stuke continued their majestic recent form with a comprehensive 20-point victory over second-placed countrymen Marcus Hansen and Josh Porebski, to rightly consolidate their positions as Olympic favourites.
Pink’s success also clinched him and two-time Olympic silver medallist Bithell a place in the Great Britain squad for the Aquece Rio International Regatta from August 15-22.
The event will be the second official test event for sailing and act as a key dress rehearsal at the 2016 venue, with competition for the Games now heating up.
With just one place in each class per nation available in each Olympic sailing discipline, Pink appears to have a decisive edge as the campaigns for selection enter their final throes.
While Sign performed best in the previous World Cup regatta in Hyères securing fifth to Pink and Bithell’s eighth, it is the Fareham helm that now holds the upper hand, with just a year left until the Olympics begin.
Despite winning the final race in a British one-two in Weymouth, Fletcher and Sign came to rue a disqualification during the sixth of 11 races that hindered their hopes of challenging the front-runners.
Pink, 32, expressed his delight at the result, and believes he is well equipped to face the challenges that the Rio venue will bring.
He said: ‘It feels good. It is what we have been working towards and we are really happy.
‘Rio is a tricky venue, big mountains and lots of tide.
‘It’s a great venue to spend a lot of time in and get used to and in tune with the conditions.
‘It’s a venue where you can have a bit of anything so you need to be good in every good condition and adaptable to change.
‘It’s nice to have started in the Solent and to now have a chance to go on to Rio.’
Elsewhere at the regatta, Hayling Island’s Eilidh McIntyre and her helm Sophie Weguelin could only manage fifth place as their compatriots, Saskia Clarke and Hannah Mills, clinched the gold medal in the 470 class – one of five across all Olympic and Paralympic classes for the British team.
London 2012 silver medallist Nick Dempsey took gold in the RS:X, Giles Scott continued his fine form with another win in the Finn, while 2.4mR racer Helena Lucas and SKUD sailors Niki Birrell and Alexandra Rickham secured Paralympic golds.
Having so far raced in Melbourne, Miami, Hyères and Portland, the next leg of the Sailing World Cup will be contested in Qingdao, China, before Abu Dhabi hosts the finale in November.