Semaine Olympique Francaise - Team GBR's female sailors win six medals

by RYA 
Team GBR Match Racing in Hyeres - Semaine Olympique Francais 2011
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Semaine Olympique Francaise - It was Ladies Day at the ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta in Hyeres (FRA) on Friday (29 April), with Britain’s female sailors picking up six medals on the final day of competition.

Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor claimed gold in the women’s match racing event, while there were two podium spots for GBR in the 470 women’s class and also the 2.4mR Paralympic event through Megan Pascoe and birthday girl Helena Lucas.

Olympic bronze medallist Bryony Shaw also took a hard-fought bronze in the RS:X women’s windsurfing event, taking Skandia Team GBR’s medal tally to nine at this French Olympic Sailing Week, with Ben Ainslie having secured gold in the Finn class a day early, and Alexandra Rickham-Niki Birrell and Alex Hovden-Kate Mannerings also sealing early gold and silver medals respectively in the SKUD Paralympic class.

With no British medals won in the women’s classes at the previous leg of the World Cup event in Palma earlier this month, Skandia Team GBR’s girls came out fighting on Friday.

Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor were guaranteed a silver in their Elliot 6m women’s match racing final against Sally Barkow’s American trio. Not prepared to settle for second place they took a comfortable 2-0 lead before having to claw back behind in the third match to secure the 3-0 win – their first World Cup medal since the Rolex Miami OCR last January.

'It’s fantastic winning here in Hyeres. Kate and Annie did an awesome job, it was pretty tricky conditions all week so we’re really pleased to be on the top of the podium after a couple where we haven’t been,' Lucy Macgregor explained.

'We didn’t expect it to be three-nil really. None of the matches were easy – the breeze kept us on our toes and especially in that last match we managed to come back from behind, stay calm and get the win to finish off three-nil so that was just fantastic.

The trio, who donned Annie Lush-designed makeshift crowns on the water after their victory, in tribute to today’s Royal Wedding celebrations, have been working with a new Dutch coach Maurice Paardenkooper, this year and are excited about their progress.'It’s great working with Maurice,' Lucy concluded.

'The three of us are really enjoying it and we feel that there’s loads more to come so that’s the most exciting thing looking forward.' Skandia Team GBR’s 470 women’s teams booked two podium berths for the first time at a World Cup event, with the new pairing of Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark bedding in their new partnership with a silver, with teammates Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes taking bronze.

Mills and Clark finished fifth in their 10-boat medal race, to Clark and Hughes’s eighth. 'We’ve made some massive gains forward since Palma, particularly on our starting and upwind communications and you can see the difference,' Mills explained.

'The result is great for us as well as just knowing in ourselves that we’ve got better.'

'I think having two teams on the podium is maybe unheard of for British 470 women’s sailing,' Saskia Clark added, 'so it’s a really exciting place for the squad and we’ll hopefully keep pushing forward together through until next summer.'

Megan Pascoe and Helena Lucas secured another two medals for GBR in the 2.4mR Paralympic class. Lucas started her 36th birthday in the best possible way with a win in the first of day’s two races, with a ninth in the second race enough to seal her bronze, while Pascoe made it two World Cup medals in two World Cup regattas, holding on to a silver medal in Hyeres with scores of 6,2 today.

In the RS:X women’s event, Bryony Shaw was fifth heading into the 10 boat final and had a fight on her hands to secure a podium finish. But she reveled in the increased wind conditions this afternoon, winning the medal race and relegating her rivals in third and fourth overnight Chen Peina (CHN) and Alessandra Sensini (ITA) ninth and tenth in the ten boat final, which handed Shaw the bronze medal by 11 points.

Already assured of his Finn class gold, Ben Ainslie finished his regatta in style by winning the medal race to end the event with a 40 point margin over silver medallist Zach Railey (USA).

Gilles Scott (GBR41) Finn - Semaine Olympique Francais
© Guillaume Durand

Giles Scott and Ed Wright end their regatta in seventh and eighth places respectively, having placed fourth and sixth in the medal race. In the 49er medal race, Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign were unable to improve on their sixth place heading into today, with teammates Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith ninth overall, while Laser Olympic Champion Paul Goodison ends his regatta in tenth.

'Overall it’s been a good performance by Skandia Team GBR at this World Cup event, with some fantastic results in the women’s classes after we missed out in those events in Palma,' said RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park.

'It’s great to see Lucy, Annie and Kate back to winning ways in the match racing, and it’s a unique situation for us to have two women’s 470 teams on the podium so it’s great to see that both teams are continuing to up their game and challenge at the front of the fleet.'

Park continued: 'Bryony worked hard for her bronze in the RS:X event, and four medals from two Paralympic classes is a great return.

'Having missed the medal race cut in a few classes there are still clearly areas to improve on, and in a class with so much British talent it was particularly disappointing that we didn’t deliver a medal in the 49er class.'

'Across the programme though we’re on track with where we need to be in our 2012 preparations.'

GBR medal tally from the 2011 French Olympic Sailing Week, Hyeres

Gold
Ben Ainslie (Finn)
Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor (Women’s Match Racing)
Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (SKUD)

Silver
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (470 Women)
Megan Pascoe (2.4mR)
Alex Hovden and Kate Mannerings (SKUD)

Bronze
Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes (470 Women)
Helena Lucas (2.4mR)
Bryony Shaw (RS:X Women)

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