Signs are good for duo after strong recovery

Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign, 49er. Picture: Richard Langdon/British Sailing
Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign, 49er. Picture: Richard Langdon/British Sailing
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Alain Sign believes he is on course for glory this season after a tricky World Cup test.

The Lee-on-the-Solent sailor and his helm Dylan Fletcher overcame early disappointment to secure fifth place in the 49er class at the ISAF World Cup regatta last week.

The pair’s medal chances were almost immediately scuppered when they were timed out of the very first race in light winds.

But they recovered enough over the four-day event to secure an encouraging fifth place overall, and finish as the highest-placed British boat.

Sign believes the result is encouraging, considering their first-day drama.

However, the British Sailing Podium Squad athlete admits they must improve their big-fleet tactics after rule changes mean the race fleet now consists of 40 boats, rather than 25.

It has had a big impact on the competition but the duo will be boosted by the way they turned around their regatta form after the troubled start.

Sign said: ‘It’s been quite a tricky week.

‘We didn’t expect to be finishing fifth, especially after our drama on the first day where we got timed out in the light-wind race.

‘We’re pretty happy in a way to come away with a fifth, but it’s a bit of a let-off for us.

‘We’ve got a lot to learn from this in terms of our starting and big-fleet tactics.

‘I think the whole fleet’s struggled with what for us is a big 40-boat fleet.’

London 2012 silver medallists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, from New Zealand, continued their recent dominance.

They beat Australians Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen by a huge margin of 61 points.

German pair Erik Hell and Thomas Ploessel finished third to secure the bronze.

Two-time European champion Sign, 29, believes his partnership with Fletcher has improved considerably after a humbling performance at the World Championships last year, where they finished 54th.

They now look to be on the way back to where they want to be after their recent improvement.

‘Since the Worlds we’ve come quite a long way in terms of how we work together when we’re under pressure,’ added Sign.

‘It shows that when it has been getting tough this week that’s saved us a little bit on the worse days when we’ve actually managed to pull through and really helped each other.

‘We’re really happy with how that’s gone, but there’s still more to learn from it and we’ve still got to try and catch up the Kiwis.

The 2016 Olympic hopefuls have now turned their attentions to the next World Cup event at Weymouth & Portland in June, and Sign is confident of securing a better result on home waters.

He said: ‘We’ve got a few ideas up our sleeves that we’re going to try and work through in our next training block, and hopefully bring that to the Weymouth and Portland World Cup and see how we go.

‘Hopefully it can really turn on the conditions for us and it will be really exciting to get racing again.’

Elsewhere at the regatta, John Pink, from Fareham, secured an eighth-place finish in the 49er fleet with partner Stuart Bithell.

Hayling Island’s Eilidh McIntyre endured a tough week and came 14th in the women’s 470 class alongside Sophie Weguelin.