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Four golds for British Sailing Team in World Cup Series Miami medal haul

by Will Carson, RYA 29 Jan 12:08 GMT 21-28 January 2018
Luke Patience and Chris Grube (470M) – World Cup Series Miami © Richard Langdon / Sailing Energy / World Sailing

A stellar final day at the Miami World Cup saw the British Sailing Team win four more medals including three golds to bring its final tally to five.

Rio 2016 gold medallist Giles Scott dominated the action on his return to major competition to win the Finn class on Sunday (28 January), Luke Patience and Chris Grube took the top spot in the men's 470 and Alison Young was victorious in the Laser Radial.

Two-time world champion and current European champion Nick Thompson rounded off the medal haul with bronze in the Laser fleet.

Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell had kicked off the team's success with a win in the 49er fleet on the penultimate day of racing.

It is a timely boost for the British Sailing Team as it gears up to the biggest test of the year – the Hempel Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, this summer, the first opportunity for Olympic qualification.

Scott, who took a break from Finn racing after the Olympics to sail with Sir Ben Ainslie in the America's Cup, went into the double-points medal race with a comfortable 19-point lead having only finished outside of the podium places twice in nine fleet races.

He sealed victory in style with a win in the medal race, announcing his return to the Olympic circuit in no uncertain terms.

"It's my first proper regatta after the Olympics and it's nice to be back," Scott said. "It's great to jump back in the boat and still be racing well. We normally expect 5-6 knots in Miami but we've had some real top end stuff. It's been a great week for everyone."

In the men's 470 Patience and Grube also had a commanding lead going into the medal race, and secured victory by finishing second.

"We came here looking to measure where we are in the fleet and work out what we need to do to win the world championships," said Patience, who won a silver at London 2012 alongside Bithell. "But we've sailed out of our skin, gone really fast, raced smart and well, and we're really happy to have won. We took a year off after the Rio Games so it's nice to ramp up the energy again. We're buzzing right now, filled with energy to work hard."

After struggling to find pace in the early stages of the regatta when winds were light, Young went into the medal race at the top of the Laser Radial rankings on the back of four wins in eight fleet races as the breeze built.

A second place in the medal race handed the Rio 2016 athlete, who recently teamed up with coach and Olympian Penny Clark, the gold medal.

"A win is a nice way to start the year," Young said. "It's an important year for us – it's the first chance as a nation to qualify for the Olympics – so this is a real positive. I went well in the breeze which was good to see because it's one of the things we've worked on, but there's plenty more room for improvement."

With the Laser gold medal already guaranteed to go to Australian Tom Burton, Thompson went into the medal race with a battle on his hands to keep his second place position.

On the first leg Thompson was handed a penalty for infringing New Zealander Thomas Saunders, sending him to the back of the fleet. He clawed back to third place but German rival Philipp Buhl's second denied Thompson the silver and forced him to settle instead for bronze.

"I knew it was going to be a tough battle but I'm pleased to come away with a third," Thompson said. "It's another year where Philipp and I have had a good fight – he's a good friend and a great sailor – but there were two other guys also in contention. The penalty was a mistake on my part – I thought I was ok but I wasn't. It was a bit frustrating, but I came here with no expectations of a result so to come away with a medal is great."

British Sailing Team athletes came close in three other classes: men's RS:X competitor Tom Squires, 49er FX pair Sophie Ainsworth and Sophie Weguelin and women's 470 duo Amy Seabright and Anna Carpenter all finished fourth overall. Promising young windsurfer Emma Wilson finished tenth in the women's RS:X fleet.

The third leg of Sailing's 2018 World Cup Series will be held in Hyères, France, in April.

Follow @britishsailing on Twitter for updates throughout the regatta.