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GB's golden double
GREATBritain’s Star and Sonar crews secured gold in a wind-effected final day of the French World Cup regatta in Hyeres.
Iain Percy and Sherborne’s Andrew Simpson romped to victory in the Star class by winning the medal race by one minute 20 seconds, while Portland’s GBR team-mates John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas also took home gold in the Sonar class.
That was the only one of the three Paralympic classes to leave the dock yesterday due to strong winds, although it meant Helena Lucas took home silver in the 2.4mR class and saw Portland’s SKUD crew of Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell also finish second.
Percy and Simpson did have to race to keep hold of their gold medal position, and in some top end wind and wave conditions. The Olympic champions had gained the medal race lead by the time they reached the first windward mark, and then sailed a conservative race to win by 1m 20secs while others around them battled with the tough conditions.
Simpson said: “After breaking the rig yesterday while leading we obviously didn’t want to make the same mistake twice – well, it wasn’t a mistake, the rig failed – so we were a bit more cautious than we maybe would be normally.
“Iain did a great job and we managed to get into the lead at the top mark and sailed pretty conservatively from there, let everyone else wipe out a bit, go on their side and fill up with water. We managed to get round without too many issues, so it was great.”
Percy and Simpson will race their World Championships at the same venue, starting on May 5, and while they have learned lots about the venue and their equipment, they also admit that their eyes are on Weymouth rather than adding a World Championship title to the one they won in 2010.
“The Worlds is obviously very different to the Olympic format, so we’re more focusing on how we’re going at Weymouth and focusing there.” The SKUD duo of Rickham and Birrell were disappointed not to have had the chance to try and reel in the Australian leaders Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch, but were content with their silver and their overall progress towards the Paralympic Games.
Rickham said: “We came here to the goal of getting a medal so we’ve ticked that box. We’ve learnt a lot of lessons. We’ve made some quite rudimentary mistakes this week so I think the good thing is that we’ve had that reminder.”
After a promising week, there was disappointment for Portland’s Alison Young in the Laser Radial event as she missed out on the podium by one point to the Netherlands Marit Bouw-meester, with gold going to China’s Xu Lijia and silver to Belgium’s Evi Van Acker. Weymouth’s Charlotte Dobson finished ninth.
Poole’s Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor finished fourth in the women’s match racing event – strong wind conditions meant officials were unable to complete a potentially decisive final round-robin match for the GBR trio against USA’s Sally Barkow, meaning the medals were decided on percentage wins.