Job Done

Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre. Image: British Sailing Team

All the action from the British Sailing Team at Aarhus as they book their places for Tokyo 2020.

‘Job done’. That was the assessment from British Sailing Team boss Mark Robinson as Great Britain became the first and only nation to win spots in all 10 Olympic sailing classes for Tokyo 2020 following strong performances at the 2018 Sailing World Championships.

The regatta, in Aarhus, Denmark, was the first opportunity for nations to book their places at the next Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, which begins in just under two years.

In total 40 percent of the quota of places for Tokyo 2020 were up for grabs at the World Championships and the British Sailing Team athletes met the qualification criteria in every class, guaranteeing Britain the opportunity to defend its position at the top of the Olympic sailing medal table.

No other nation qualified to compete in every event and they will have to earn their places at other qualification events over the coming year, while the British Sailing Team can concentrate fully on the showpiece event.

“In terms of guaranteeing that British sailors will be on the start line of every sailing event at Tokyo 2020, it is job done,” said Mark.

“The 2018 Sailing World Championships has been a great success for the British Sailing Team with our sailors making sure the nation is qualified in all 10 classes – something no other country managed.

“Britain is the most successful Olympic sailing nation of all time and has topped the sailing medal table in four of the last five Games.

“With two years to go until Tokyo 2020, we can now turn our attention to perfecting our skills and processes so that we peak just at the right time.”

LOOKING TO WIN

The Sailing World Championships finished with teenage windsurfing sensation Emma Wilson narrowly missing out on her first senior world championships medal in the women’s RS:X, but British medal success had been confirmed in the few days before.

Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre won the first British medal of the championships taking a bronze in the Women’s 470 to take their 2018 medal tally to four.

The pair held on to third in a nail-biting finale that saw them battling French duo Camille Lecointre and Aloise Retornaz for a place on the podium.

Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre won bronze in the Women’s 470. Image: Pedro Martinez/Sailing Energy/Aarhus 2018

They fought their way through the 10-boat fleet to finish fourth in the medal race, but their bronze was only confirmed when Lecointre and Retornaz crossed the line in seventh.

Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth claimed Great Britain’s second medal, also winning bronze in the 49er FX class.

The medal came less than a month after they brought home the same medal from the European championships in Gydnia, Poland.

The pair, who only officially teamed up in April this year, went into the final race in second, and halfway round the course looked set to defend their position from the front of the fleet.

However, a huge squall hit the 10-boat fleet, sending the wind from a handful of knots to more than 18 in a matter of seconds, and capsizing the race leaders, Austria’s Tanja Frank and Lorena Abicht, in the process.

With the breeze swinging by more than 60 degrees and just two legs remaining of the five-leg course, Weguelin and Ainsworth suddenly found themselves scrapping it out in the middle of the pack.

With Frank and Abicht relegated to the back of the fleet, the Netherlands’ Annamiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz shot into second, which was enough to give them the overall victory.

The Austrian pair took silver, with Weguelin and Ainsworth finishing just three points behind them in third.

STRONG RESULTS

In the 49er James Peters and Fynn Sterritt confirmed their return to the Olympic circuit after a four-month absence taking fifth overall.

The duo, last year’s world championship runners up, were side-lined in April when Sterritt picked up a knee injury that required surgery.

Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell, the 2017 world champions, finished two points behind their British Sailing Team compatriots.

Alison Young bowed out of the 2018 Sailing World Championships with a Laser Radial medal race victory – her first race win of the regatta in Aarhus in strong breeze – and ended the regatta in seventh overall.

Elliot Hanson went into the Laser Standard medal race looking to defend or improve on his third-place standing but his bid for a first senior world championship medal suffered a blow when he was penalised early on.

The on-water judges ruled that Hanson had illegally rocked his boat on the second leg to gain more speed, and the imposed penalty turn relegated him to the back of the fleet.

Despite a valiant attempt at a fight-back Hanson crossed the line in tenth, finishing fifth overall.

Team mate and Rio 2016 Olympian Nick Thompson finished eighth overall, while Michael Beckett claimed tenth.

OFF THE PODIUM

Reigning Finn class European champion Ed Wright had to settle for eighth overall despite coming home third in the medal race. Wright had led by seven points going into the penultimate day of competition, but a pair of mid-fleet results saw him plummet down the standings.

Going into the medal race in tenth overall Wright still had a chance of a podium finish, but it was dependent on his rivals at the top of the table having a bad race. Unfortunately for Wright, a valiant third was not enough to send him up the leaderboard.

In the men’s RS:X competition, Kieran Holmes-Martin also rounded off his world championship bid with victory in the medal race. Doing all he could, Holmes-Martin finally finished the regatta in fourth overall as his rivals did just enough to keep him off the podium.

The final medal race of the regatta was set to feature the mixed multihull Nacra 17 class, but it was called off after the wind disappeared. Because of abandoned race, John Gimson and Anna Burnet finished eighth overall, with Ben Saxton and Nikki Boniface in tenth.

READY FOR TOKYO

The British Sailing Team finished in the top ten in every class at the regatta, which featured more than 1,400 competitors from more than 90 nations, and with it completed the job of qualifying Great Britain in every class for Tokyo 2020.

britishsailingteam.rya.org.uk