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Welsh wizard Beckett inspires with Palma three-peat

by British Sailing Team 6 Apr 21:37 BST 1-6 April 2024
Michael Beckett - 53rd Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca by Iberostar Day 5 © Sailing Energy / Trofeo Princesa Sofía

The British Sailing Team's Micky Beckett scored a crucial victory in the countdown to Paris 2024, winning the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma for the third consecutive year.

Beckett, 29, dominated the men's dinghy class at the traditional Olympic classes season opener, wrapping up the win in the 193-boat fleet with a day to spare.

Beckett's gold let the way in a three-medal haul for the Brits, with John Gimson and Anna Burnet winning bronze in the Nacra 17 and young gun Matilda Nicholls also taking bronze, her first medal at senior level, in the ILCA 6.

Beckett would have gone into the 10-boat double points medal race safe in the knowledge that no-one could topple him from the top spot, such was his lead.

The Welshman refused to rest on his laurels, finishing second in the medal race to win by an enormous 44 points.

Beckett's Australian arch-rival Matt Wearn, the reigning Olympic and world champion, finished fifth. "I've been trying all week not to think about the fact that if I won this event it would be three in a row, but now it's real and it's pretty cool," said Beckett, who booked his Paris spot with Team GB in October last year.

"I came here with more confidence having won twice previously but also more pressure.

"All the top guys will be following their own plans to build up to this summer, but I have to say that beating them is a nice confidence boost.

"This win means that something's working, but it doesn't mean that the job is done or that anything is guaranteed.

"ILCAs are simple boats, and all you have are your skills and your decision-making. That's worked for me this last week but it doesn't guarantee it will work in a few months' time. There's plenty more work to be done."

Tokyo 2020 silver medallists Gimson and Burnet, who are also confirmed in the Paris 2024 line-up, had a tricky week in the 48-boat Nacra 17 fleet.

They had dropped them to fourth overall on the final day of fleet racing, but a second-place finish in the medal race elevated them into the bronze medal position.

Burnet, from Shandon, Scotland, said: "I'm relieved we managed to execute the medal race we needed to to get onto the podium and get a medal at the end of what's been a really tough week for us.

"It's a good feeling, and it gives us some confidence. We've always said that it's not always going to be your week, but if you're able to grind out a result and get onto the podium in those tough weeks then anything's possible in a good week."

Nicholls, from Durley in Hampshire, also went into her medal race in fourth, and like her teammates scored a second to jump into the bronze spot.

"I had a really good day," beamed Nicholls. "We had a lot of waiting around for the medal race, and the wind was pretty light, but I managed to bag a second in the medal race which means I'm third overall.

"I was really excited to be in my first medal race, so I just wanted to go out there and enjoy it without too much pressure. It's my first senior medal so I'm super happy."

Freya Black and Saskia Tidey bounced back from a challenging World Championships last month to finish sixth in the 49erFX fleet.

Their hopes of climbing the leaderboard further were dashed when their medal race was cancelled due to light winds.

Newly selected Team GB pair Vita Heathcote and Chris Grube followed up their recent 470 World Championship silver medal success with an eighth.

The 470 medal race suffered the same fate as the 49erFX class, preventing any final day improvement.

Emma Wilson and Sam Sills fell foul of the low number of races in the iQFOiL fleets, with only eight and 10 completed respectfully.

"I made mistakes this week and got punished in this high-level fleet," said Wilson, a windsurfing bronze medallist at Tokyo 2020. "I'm disappointed, but no excuses - just time to work harder and smarter."

Full results from the regatta can be found here.

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