Bournemouth EchoPortland sailors take gold in Games prequel (From Bournemouth Echo)

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Portland sailors take gold in Games prequel

Bournemouth Echo: Giles Scott Giles Scott

OLYMPIC sailing team manager Stephen Park is feeling ‘confident’ following his sailors’ 11-strong medal haul at their last test before the home Games.

RYA Olympic Manager, Park, known as Sparky, described the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta as a ‘successful’ preparation event.

He said: “To come away with medals in seven of the Olympic classes and all three of the Paralympic classes, isn’t bad.

“In fact I’m really pleased.

“It sets us up well to hone our performances in the final build-up to the Games and go in confident.

“It’s really confirmed our thinking that we’re medal competitive in all of the Olympic and Para-lympic classes and if you make any mistakes then you will not get on to the podium.”

The ‘stand-out performance’ for Sparky at last week’s ISAF World Cup series regatta was Portland’s Ali Young, who claimed her first gold in the Laser Radial class.

He said: “Ali’s somebody who’s slowly been coming to her peak; she was frustrated to finish fourth at the Worlds in Germany two weeks ago after leading all week.

“To come back here and really deliver and get a gold is really fantastic, building her confidence and knowing she can do it now.”

In the men’s heavyweight dinghies, Sparky said Portland’s Giles Scott gave a ‘masterclass in Finn sailing’, while Team GB sailor Ben Ainslie ‘like the true champion he is’ managed to vie for the top spot despite suffering from a virus, before claiming silver.

He added: “The downside is you can only have one representative in each class at the Olympics.

“There’s no other person in the fleet apart from Giles who would be challenging Ben for that gold.”

Portland’s 470 men, Luke Pat-ience and Stuart Bithell scored silver after a close competition with Australian World Champions Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page.

Sparky said: “No doubt when the Games come there’ll be a fight between Britain and Australia.”

Weymouth Olympic windsurfer Bryony Shaw’s string of top five results were hampered by kit failure and a disqualification for being over the starting line earlier in the week, which left her eighth.

Sparky said in the Olympics, Weymouth Laser sailor Paul Goodison would have claimed bronze as two Australian teams would not have been on the podium.

Star sailors Iain Percy and Sherborne’s Andrew Simpson, Weymouth’s 470 women Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark and Weymouth windsurfer Nick Dempsey all claimed bronze.

Portland’s Paralympic Sonar team of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas and Skud duo Alex Rickham and Niki Birrell achieved gold, while 2.4mR sailor Helena Lucas took home silver.

‘One error of judgement’ saw Poole’s Match Race Girls, Lucy and Kate Macgregor and Annie Lush miss out on the quarter-finals, while the Olympic 49er skiff sailors Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes narrowly missed out on bronze to their British teammates Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign.

Sparky added: “We’re looking forward to the final opportunity we have to fine tune things before the Games.”

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