Helena Lucas and Megan Pascoe made it a double celebration for Great Britain in Hyeres on Friday (26 April), claiming both the silver and bronze medals in the 2.4mR Paralympic class on the penultimate day of racing at the ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta.
Lucas’s silver comes at her first regatta back since claiming Paralympic sailing gold in Weymouth and Portland last summer, while Pascoe’s bronze is her third consecutive World Cup medal of the season.
And with 16 British boats qualified for Saturday’s medal races in the Olympic Classes, hopes will be high for further British podium success at the southern French venue tomorrow. Giles Scott and Andrew Mills are currently the top two sailors in the Finn standings, while all three podium spots in the 49er class are occupied by British boats heading into the high-stakes, high-scores final day.
Lucas and Pascoe were poised in the silver and bronze positions heading into Friday’s final day for the Paralympic classes. Gold was already virtually assured to Germany’s Heiko Kroger, but the remaining medal spots became a three-way tussle between Lucas, Pascoe and local hero Damien Seguin, with Pascoe just outside of the podium spots with one race to go.
But both British girls fought hard, Redhill-born Lucas doing enough to hold on to silver, and Ardingly’s Pascoe getting the better of her French rival to keep her clean sweep of World Cup podium finishes this year, adding to her gold from Miami, and silver in Palma earlier this month.
“I was expecting to be a little bit rusty so I’m pretty chuffed to come away with a silver medal,” admitted the 37-year-old Paralympic Champion Lucas.
“I wasn’t using the kit that I had at the Games, so didn’t quite have the pace that I had at the Games, but I think that was quite a good thing because it made me have to focus quite a lot on the tactics and the racing, and I feel like I was actually racing quite well.”
“It doesn’t feel like that much has changed or happened in the last few months so that’s encouraging,” said Lucas on her time away from the boat. “I know exactly how to touch up the areas that I need to work on a little bit and it should all come back pretty quick, so it’s been an encouraging week I think.”
“I’m really pleased,” said Pascoe of her bronze medal. “It’s been a tough week with a lot of the top guys coming back in, but it’s really promising for later in the year, and ultimately, hopefully, Rio.
“I’ve really progressed with my speed and my attitude that I just keep coming back in races and just keep going, because you never know what’s going to happen until the last race,” the 26-year-old continued.
“We’re fully on it with the [British] 2.4mR programme, and it is great to have more than one boat in the medals. I think that does show that the competitiveness from last year and the years before hasn’t been lost. There was only one point between us at the end, and I think that’s going to continue all the way.”
Racing also concluded in the three-person Paralympic Sonar class on Friday, with Britain’s John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas ending their first regatta back since the Games in fifth place.
The International Sailing Federation’s scoring experimentation is continuing at this regatta, with a lot of points to be gained or lost in Saturday’s medal races for the Olympic Classes. There will be two double-points scoring medal races for the top ten boats in each Olympic Class, with the exception of the 49er and 49erFX where three double-points races will be held for the top eight boats, making for some intense racing.
In the 49er class, three British crews currently occupy the top three spots of the leaderboard, with Dave Evans and Ed Powys – bronze medallists in Palma – taking the yellow jerseys into the final day. They’re tied on points with Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign, with Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes nine points behind their teammates.
Four British sailors have qualified for the ten-boat finals in the Finn class. Giles Scott retains his lead with a race win and a third on the water on Friday, with Andrew Mills in second, with two consistent second places leaving him just six points behind the 2011 World Champion Scott.
“Both of them could have been firsts at points so that was a little bit annoying, but I can’t really complain. Two seconds is alright!” Mills said of his results today.
It was a shifty kind of day, so it was about playing it consistently, not hitting the corners and having relatively good boat speed around the track. I think [Giles] has got one point further ahead, so six points behind going into a 40-point day is a reasonable place to be I’d say!
“It should be good – I quite like the medal races. Of the new format, two medal races is something I don’t think is a bad thing. The qualifying series I don’t like, but the medal races should be good.”
Ed Wright and Mark Andrews have also made the medal race cut, in eighth and 10th respectively, while in the Laser Radial class, a seventh and a fourth for Alison Young has seen her narrow the gap on the Dutch series leader Marit Bouwmeester to just one point.
In the RS:X women’s windsurfing event, France’s Charline Picon has extended her lead over Britain’s Bryony Shaw to 11 points heading into the final day, while Charlotte Dobson and Mary Rook qualify for the 49erFX medal races in second place overall, with Penny Clark and Sophie Ainsworth making the eight-boat finals in eight place. A third British crew of Frances Peters and Nicola Groves just missed out, finishing ninth.
A strong day for Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond in the Nacra 17 event has seen them with a chance of a first podium finish in for Great Britain in the new Olympic multihull class. The duo started their day with a third and a race win before boat breakage forced them to retire from the third race of the day.
They still end the day in fifth overall, and just one point from bronze and five points from the gold medal position. Lucy Macgregor and Tom Phipps will also feature in the ten-boat Nacra 17 finals, currently in ninth overall.
Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield had a much-improved day in the 470 men’s event, making up for their gear failure on Thursday with a fourth and a second from their two races so see them back inside the medal race positions, in fifth overall, while Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre are up to fourth in 470 women’s event with a scores of sixth and ninth on the water today.
Nick Thompson squeaks into the Laser medal races in tenth place overall, after a testing start to his week.
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