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Gold and silver sign off for British Youth sailors

by Imogen Stanley 18 Aug 2015 17:46 BST 18 August 2015
Girls gold for Mimi El-Khazindar & Emma Loveridge in the 29er Worlds at Pwllheli © RYA

It was a double medal winning weekend for the British Youth Sailing Team. Mimi El-Khazindar and Emma Loveridge won the girls' gold at the 2015 29er World Championships, Pwllheli, North Wales on Saturday (15 August) meanwhile Martin Wrigley and Marcus Tressler won silver at the 420 Junior European Championships in Bourgas, Bulgaria after a tough battle with the Israelis.

Another gold takes El-Khazindar and Loveridge's summer medal haul to two golds and one bronze following their European win in Medemblik and EUROSAF bronze in Brest, France.

With testing winds from day one, the girls showed their supreme grasp of the 29er boat and in an open fleet were the only girls to qualify for the gold fleet, cementing their win three days before the end of the event and finishing 29th overall.

Having trained through a windy British winter they can easily keep up with the boys said El-Khazindar: "We have trained with the aim to make podium positions at the Europeans and Worlds, but nothing prepared us to be the only female pairing in the gold fleet at both the events.

"Gold Fleet is always challenging with small mistakes costing precious places. It was tough sailing against the most talented and competitive sailors in the world, but we feel like we have held our own."

After just a year of sailing together, El-Khazindar and Loveridge achieved all of their goals and a hint of nostalgia has already hit home for Loveridge: "It feels incredible to be 29er European and World Champions. We have achieved all our goals this summer and can't quite believe it is all over. It has only been a year since we started sailing together so to come this far in such a short space of time is amazing and all we could have hoped for."

Having secured their gold medal at the close of qualifying the rest of the week was one to enjoy: "I think my favourite race of the week was the final race on the last day. The wind was building so whilst still being a shifty tactical race it was also extremely fun sailing. With it also being our last event together it was a perfect way to end, made even better by our celebratory dive in the water as we crossed the finish," explained Loveridge, from Stratford-upon-Avon.

"We are extremely proud and grateful to be part of the British Youth Sailing Team and we would like to thank our parents, team, coaches and all the people that make British Youth Sailing happen," concluded Lymington's El-Khazindar.

Both girls plan to sail the 49erFX in the future, but first El-Khazindar is heading off to university in America while Loveridge hopes to work with the 29er class to promote female participation.

Courtney Bilbrough and Harriet Ward finished third girls and 61st overall.

In the boys' fleet, the top Brits were James Grummet and Daniel Budden, who finished in 14th, whilst Kyle O'Connell and Tom Siganto from Australia were overall winners.

In Eastern Europe Martin Wrigley and Marcus Tressler picked up a silver medal and finished fourth overall as the 420 Junior Europeans (7 – 15 August) drew to a close in Bulgaria.

The pair opted out of attending the 420 World Championships that were held Japan in July to focus on the Junior Europeans, said Wrigley: "We decided not to go to Japan for the 420 Worlds as I really wanted to medal at the Junior Euros so I'm really happy."

Kettering-born Tressler continued: "We spent a lot of time doing international events over the summer to prepare for the Euros and that has really paid off. "The wind conditions were 12 knots every day, same direction, same tactics and same everything.

"We also won a race, that was really cool. I think we won by about 50 seconds and that was a really nice feeling.

"However, I'm a little disappointed because we were in gold medal position going into the last day but just lost out."

The British pair battled it out with Israelis Nitai Hasson and Tal Harari for the top spot. "It was gutting really as we were so close to winning. We just had to put a boat between us and the Israeli but they beat us by about five boat lengths which was pretty hard," explains Wrigley from Hereford.

The top British girls were Jenny Cropley and Emma Baker in 22nd, meanwhile Katie Davies and Grace Summers led the U17 Brits and finished tenth. As an event open to all nations, Wiley Rogers and Jack Parkin from the United States of America were overall winners and the Israelis were crowned European Champions.

Wrigley now plans to move into the 470 while Tressler, who is only 16, is on the hunt for a new sailing partner.

Mark Nicholls, RYA Youth Racing Manager said: "These are great international results from our 29er and 420 sailors, showing us real potential for their future paths in their chosen Olympic classes.

"I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate them on their success and wish them good luck as they move onto the next stage in their sailing career."

You can follow the British Youth Sailing Team on Facebook and Twitter.

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