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SAILING: Brits advance on a testing day in Miami
8:57am Friday 31st January 2014 in Sport
THE wind returned and racing resumed on day four of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami with British teams making the most of the opportunity with two days of the regatta left to run.
Seven British crews occupy medal positions heading into the business end of the week, with windsurfer Bryony Shaw, Sophie Weguelin-Eilidh McIntyre in the 470 women’s event, and the new 49er pairing of John Pink-Stuart Bithell all holding pole position in their respective Olympic classes, while British Sailing Team crews in the three Paralympic classes will be well-poised for their final day of racing today.
The Sonar crew of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas picked up both race wins in the three-person Paralympic event on Thursday to boost them into overall second place, while defending champion Megan Pascoe holds on to her lead in the 2.4mR event with Paralympic gold medallist Helena Lucas in overall third, just three points behind her.
Teammate Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell won the first of the day’s two SKUD races by a two-minute margin, and had a similar lead in the second race when they struck an abandoned anchor line, but still hold the overall lead heading into their final day of competition.
In the Olympic classes, today's focus will be about booking berths in the medal races tomorrow, and British Sailing Team crews made good progress towards those yesterday.
Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre showed good form on the 470 women’s course, picking up two race wins and almost a third until they had to take penalty turns for a port-starboard infringement just 20 metres from the final mark.
They have an eight-point advantage in the leaderboard, and McIntyre is happy with the pair’s progress so far this week.
“Our goals coming here were to work on our communication and our decision making so actually these (light wind) conditions have been really perfect for it. We’ve been doing really well, the tempo has been good in the boat and we’re really pleased.
“It’s not usually our preferred condition so it’s quite nice to have found a new strength and we’ve been working on that over the past couple of days.
Three top-three results for Bryony Shaw also give her an eight point lead in the women’s windsurfing standings, while the new 49er duo of John Pink and Stuart Bithell hold on to the top spot for another day with Stevie Morrison and Chris Grube just four points behind in fourth.
It was a solid day for Finn sailor Giles Scott with 5,5,4 from his three races, but Australia’s Oliver Tweddell had a better one with a race win and two seconds to take the overall lead by nine points.
The British Sailing Team Laser squad is advancing well – all four boats have made the cut for gold fleet racing on Friday, with Alex Mills Barton picking up a race win and a second from the fleet’s two races. Nick Thompson is poised just outside of the podium spots after a race win and ninth for his efforts.
“I’m really pleased,” said the three-time World Championship medallist of his day.
“The most pleasing thing was not really the result in the first race, it was the way I came back through the fleet. I didn’t take any big risks and just kind of fought my way back.
“It was the same in the second race – ninth isn’t the best result, but it’s a counter and again I fought my way back through the fleet. I guess it’s time to get off the startline properly!”
With three gold fleet races scheduled for today, Thompson believes that the eventual medallists will come to the fore.
“I think the regatta is literally going to be won and lost today. It’s effectively going to be double points, so like six races almost, so it’s going to be an exciting day and there should be some good breeze.”
Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond are poised fourth in the Nacra 17 fleet, with Frances Peters and Nicola Groves occupying the same spot in the 49erFX standings, and Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth just behind them in fifth.
The day got better as it went on for Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield, who posted a second place in their third race of the day to sit in eighth place, while Hannah Snellgrove will be pushing for the medal race spots in the Laser Radial fleet, currently in 17th place.
Racing at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami continues for all classes later today with the final races for the Paralympic classes and the penultimate day of competition for the Olympic classes, ahead of the medal races tomorrow.
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