Star duo on top at French World Cup

Dorset Echo: AT THE SUMMIT: Sonar trio John Robertson, Stephen Thomas and Hannah Stodel AT THE SUMMIT: Sonar trio John Robertson, Stephen Thomas and Hannah Stodel

IAIN Percy and Andrew Simpson’s mast was a casualty of the strong winds which returned to the French World Cup regatta yesterday, but their misfortune wasn’t enough to knock the Star Olympic champions off the top of the leaderboard heading into the final medal races.

The Skandia Team GBR duo had a comfortable lead and were around 200m from the finish of their first and only race of the day amid 18-22 knot conditions and big waves off Hyeres, when their mast broke and forced them out of the race.

Just 12 of the 25-boat Star fleet managed to complete the race though, with Simpson, of Sherborne, and Percy’s closest rivals Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn of Canada among the number who didn’t, so in spite of the British crew’s damage they are able to discard yesterday’s result and head into today’s 10-boat double points finale with a five-point lead over Sweden’s Fredrik Loof and Max Salminen.

Portland’s John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas came through a ‘pretty full on’ race in the Paralympic Sonar class to finish second and maintain their spot at the top of the results table with one day to go.

“It’s a great place to be,” commented Robertson on his team’s overall first place, with one day of the regatta left to go.

“Unfortunately the Norwegians pulled out of that race with some boat damage so I don’t know if they’re going to sail (today), but the French are also pretty close so it’ll be good to get another race in and see if we can finish it off.”

Fellow islander Alison Young remains in the podium positions in the Laser Radial event, where today’s medal race promises to be a close affair.

The Netherlands’ world champion Marit Bouwmeester leads by just one point over China’s Xu Lijia – winner of the only race of day – with Young just two points behind her in third.

Weymouth’s Charlotte Dobson, who is eighth in the overall standings, agreed that fitness had been a key factor in yesterday’s windy racing.

The women’s match racers continue to play catch-up with their weather-affected race schedule, with organisers only able to complete one flight due to the harsh conditions.

Poole trio Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor lost at the hands of Russia’s Ekaterina Skudina to sit fourth overall with a 70 per cent win-loss record, and will be keen to get racing today to try and climb into the top three.

In the RS:X women and Laser classes, the only other classes to see any racing, Skandia Team GBR’s development squad sailors saw a respectable end to their regatta.

Alex Mills Barton finished 15th overall in the Laser class, with Izzy Hamilton coming 17th in the RS:X women’s windsurfing fleet.

The 49er class saw no racing yesterday but protest decisions on Wednesday night improved the standings of Skandia Team GBR’s John Pink and Rick Peacock, who just make the medal race cut in 10th place.

With the SKUD Paralympic class also confined to the shore yesterday, Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell of Portland remain in second spot.

* Follow the action on Twitter @skandiateamgbr

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