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NINE MIAMI MEDALS FOR GREAT BRITAIN

 


Nine Miami medals for Great Britain


 


British sailors came away with five medals from the final day’s races at the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta on Saturday (27 January), bringing their regatta total to nine across the 14 Olympic and Paralympic classes.


 


But although they finished with more silverware than any other nation at the Grade 1 event, Skandia Team GBR rued missed opportunities in a number of the Olympic classes – the chance of gold melted into silver for Leigh McMillan and Will Howden in the Tornado class, and Bryony Shaw was unable to hold on her overnight lead in the RS:X women’s windsurfing event and had to settle for a bronze after an eighth place in the final double points scoring medal race.


 


Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield in the men’s 470 class were the only Brits to clinch gold on the final day of racing in Biscayne Bay.  With an almost unassailable 19 point lead heading into the final day – they just had to avoid any on water incidents which could see them disqualified – the Athens silver medallists produced a final flourish, with a second place from the medal race providing the icing on the cake.


 


“The whole event has gone really well for us,” explained Rogers, whose eagerly anticipated comeback year to the Olympic sailing scene in 2006 with Glanfield suffered a setback when he broke his wrist at the start of the season.  Consequently, the only major events they competed in during 2006 were the Olympic Test Event in Qingdao, which they won, and the 470 World Championships immediately afterwards, where they finished tenth.


 


“All of the world’s best sailors in the 470 fleet are here – some might not have their best boats with them, but still it’s been really pleasing to win against the top guys, to get racing and to see where there are areas we need to work on.”



 


In the Tornado class, overnight leaders Leigh McMillan and Will Howden – already assured of a silver – just needed to keep within four boats of the Australian World Champions Darren Bundock and Glenn Ashby to secure a second gold for Great Britain.  In spite of an aggressive start, with McMillan and Howden immediately tacking onto the Australians, Bundock and Ashby broke free and made big gains through the fleet.  With big wind shifts across the course, the Skandia Team GBR sailors never managed to recover and finished 10th to the Australian’s second in the final race.


 


“It’s a real shame not to have won today, but we have to look at the positives of this result,” said Howden.  “It was only four weeks ago we were coming 19th at the Worlds so this is a huge improvement for us.”


 


Bryony Shaw and Nick Dempsey also suffered with the 35 degree wind shifts which beset the RS:X course.  Shaw could only manage an eighth place in the women’s medal race to see her fall from first to third overall, and Dempsey trailed across the line in tenth in the men’s final to push him out of the medals from his third place overnight.


 


In the Yngling women’s keelboat event, Athens gold medallists Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb along with Pippa Wilson secured their first Grade 1 podium position as a new crew.  The trio were poised in second place heading into the final race, two points behind the USA team of Sally Barkow, Carrie Howe and Debbie Capozzi.  Ayton’s team need to beat the Americans to clinch gold, but were unable stay in front of the former match racing World Champion and had to settle for silver in their first major event together as a crew.


 


“It’s been a great event for us, and a great result for Pippa,” commented Sarah Webb.


 


“We’re really happy with a silver in our first Grade 1 together, but mostly we’ve learnt a lot as a new team from this regatta.  Our training so far has been focussed on speed – we haven’t really done any racing practice yet, so our performance on the race course this week has been encouraging.”


 


Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes put on a solid display in the 49er final, finishing fourth to boost them up onto the podium in silver medal position after heading into the medal race in fifth place.  Spanish Olympic Champions Iker Martinez and Xavier Fernandez saw gold slip from their grasp when they were called early over the start line.


 


Skandia Team GBR’s five medals from the final day’s races in the Olympic classes is added to the four won on Friday in the Paralympic disciplines, where British sailors Dan Parsons, Tom Pygall and Guy Draper won gold and John Roberson, Hannah Stodel and Stephen Thomas took bronze in the three person Sonar class, and also took silver and bronze in the single-handed 2.4mR category through Megan Pascoe and Helena Lucas.


 


Miami provided us with a good opportunity to see how the winter training programmes are paying off for the sailors,” concluded Olympic Manager Stephen Park.  “While we didn’t set any specific performance targets for the team at this regatta, it’s pleasing that Great Britain has come away with nine medals across the 14 classes.


 


“That said, I’m slightly disappointed that in some classes we were unable to capitalise on some real opportunities that were out there – opportunities to convert leading positions in the Tornado and RS:X women’s events, and chances to convert podium placings into gold medals!


 


“It’s been a learning regatta for many of the sailors, and I’m sure that everyone will leave here having learnt a great deal and with plenty to think about ahead of the next Grade 1 event in April in Palma.”



           


British medallists in Miami:


Gold:


Nick Rogers-Joe Glanfield (470 Men);


Dan Parsons-Tom Pygall-Guy Draper (Sonar)


SIlver:


Sarah Ayton-Sarah Webb-Pippa Wilson (Yngling)


Leigh McMillan-Will Howden (Tornado)


Stevie Morrison-Ben Rhodes (49er)


Megan Pascoe (2.4mR)


Bronze:


Bryony Shaw (RS:X women)


John Robertson-Hannah Stodel-Stephen Thomas (Sonar)


Helena Lucas (2.4mR)


 


For the full regatta results and information, visit www.skandiateamgbr.com

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