G4S sponsored Skandia Team GBR sailors take World Cup challenge
Containing a mixture of both qualified and not-yet-qualified sailors for London 2012, the regatta will certainly deliver challenges to everyone competing in the Olympic and Paralympic classes. With the first day of racing brought to an early halt due to high winds, the team’s first full day of sailing saw British crews firmly in control of the standings.
Skandia Team GBR has fielded its top sailors in four of the ten Olympic classes, with 2012 picks Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson in the Star class and the women’s match racing trio of Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor among those expected to challenge for the podium spots, while GBR’s leading contenders in the 49er and Laser Radial classes will be also be in action and hoping to catch the eye of the RYA’s Olympic selectors, as crews for the 2012 Games in both of those events have yet to be named.
G4S sponsored 49ers Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes will join their Skandia teammates John Pink-Rick Peacock, Dave Evans-Ed Powys, and Dylan Fletcher-Alain Sign in a bid to to impress in the 49er event at this French Olympic Sailing Week, as will performance squad sailors Charlotte Dobson and Alison Young who both finished inside the top ten in the Laser Radial class at the previous World Cup series event in Palma earlier this month.
In the Paralympic classes, the London-bound crews of Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell – four-time World Champions in the SKUD – and the multiple World Championship medal-winning Sonar trio of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas will use the World Cup regatta to build towards the Paralympic medal-winning efforts, while in the one-person 2.4mR event where the 2012 selection has still to be made, Helena Lucas and Megan Pascoe will be pushing for the podium.
“With just less than 100 days to go now to the Games, we’re really getting to the business end of the four-year cycle and this regatta is going to be incredibly competitive,” explained the RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park.
“Many nations will be using this as part of their Olympic trials and indeed in the events that we’re competing in we would hope to be challenging for the podium. It is going to be tough – there’s no doubt about that. Everyone’s going to be on their best performances across all the countries, but hopefully we’ll be able to get a few people onto the podium by the end of the week.”
Skandia Team GBR crews in the Finn, 470 men’s and women’s events, RS:X men’s windsurfing and the top British performers in the RS:X women’s and Laser fleets have opted to skip this stage of the World Cup series and are focussing instead on domestic training.
For Star Olympic Champions Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson, the French Olympic Sailing Week provides a dual purpose in their preparations towards their Olympic title defence this summer.
“We’ve got to pick equipment for sure because we don’t want to be thinking about that late, but we’ve also got to do regattas – this period was in the diary to do competitions so that we’re sharper at competitions,” the 35-year-old Percy explained, who will compete with Simpson at the Star World Championships also in Hyeres shortly after this World Cup regatta ends (5-11 May).
“We made a lot of basic mistakes in Palma – racing mistakes and the reason we’re racing now is to iron these out, get savvier, get sharper, so Hyeres will be great for that, especially if it’s strong winds. In those conditions you’ve got to be on the ball, you’ve got to be sharp and alert and it will help us going forward into Weymouth. [Hyeres and the Worlds] and Skandia Sail for Gold in Weymouth for us are just about racing again.”