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Page last updated at 16:05 GMT, Saturday, 20 November 2010

GB sailors win five medals in Perth International event

Paul Goodison
Goodison won gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing

Britain clinched five medals in the weather-disrupted Perth International Regatta which formed the test event for the 2011 World Championships.

Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign won 49er silver, while Nic Asher and Elliot Willis and Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell took 470 silver and bronze.

On the penultimate day, Paul Goodison took Laser bronze and Giles Scott won silver in a shortened Finn class.

Olympic champion Ben Ainslie was fifth after rejoining his Finn career.

The triple Olympic gold medallist is back in the class full time after Team Origin opted out of the next America's Cup, set to be held in 2013.

Fletcher and Sign went into the final medal race in second behind Australian crew Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen.

But with the gold already secured, the Britons had to defend their position from a host of teams including the four other British crews to qualify for the medal race.

We're going to go home happy that we've learned lots about Fremantle and have prepared well in terms of the World Championships in 2011

Team GB Olympic sailing boss Stephen Park

Fletcher and Sign, who finished fifth at the 2010 World Championships, led from start to finish to claim their first ever podium finish.

"We were a bit nervous I think going into the medal race," said Fletcher.

"We had a lot to lose and we couldn't overtake Nathan in front, but we just went through our processes and it all paid off."

With five British 49ers in the top 10 at the 2010 World Championships, the battle is on for qualification for the sole Team GB berth in the class for the 2012 Olympics.

"We're pretty chuffed at putting the other Brits back in their places," said Sign. "Hopefully we can continue our performance right the way through next year.

"It's a big confidence boost. We still need to be training hard throughout the winter just to keep upping our game."

Britain's John Pink and Rick Peacock finished fifth, Chris Draper and Peter Greenhalgh were seventh, Dave Evans and Ed Powys were ninth and Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes came 10th.

In the men's 470, Patience and Bithell won the final fleet race to lead going into the medal race but finished 10th in the 10-boat finale to claim bronze. Asher and Willis maintained their second place to hang onto the silver medal.

"Primarily we're here for as a training exercise for next year," said Willis. "We did two weeks of training before the regatta so we're quite happy we've sailed in the conditions that you'd normally see here."

The 470 women's teams of Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes and double Olympic champion Sarah Ayton and crew Saskia Clark finished fifth and eighth respectively, while Olympic bronze medallist Bryony Shaw was fifth in the RS:X women's windsurfing event.

Medal racing for the RS:X men's event was abandoned, leaving Nick Dempsey unable to improve on his fifth place, and Elliot Carney in 10th.

In the Laser class, Goodison pipped team-mate Nick Thompson to third behind Australian Tom Slingsby in gold and Croatian Tonci Stipanovic in silver-medal position.

The Finn race was abandoned halfway through because of light winds so medals were based on the existing standings as France's Jonathan Lobert beat Scott to gold.

"We were supposed to be racing at one o'clock and we were told maybe 20 minutes before we were about to launch that the wind had just disappeared and that they were going to try and race us at 4pm," said Scott, who won bronze in the Finn World Championships in September.

"I can't complain really - silver's great. Obviously it feels slightly odd having only done five races and not even finished a medal race, which kind of puts a bit of a downer on it, but it's still a second place at the [2011] World Championship venue."

"I've learnt a lot about Perth, had some technique development - it's been a good trip."

Paul Goodison

Spain's Rafael Trujillo claimed bronze, with Ed Wright sixth and Andrew Mills seventh overall after five races.

Goodison, who went into the final race tied with Thompson, was content with his bronze and was pleased with the knowledge he had gleaned about the 2011 Worlds venue.

"The only real chance of winning was to win the race," said Goodison. "I did what I needed to do and unfortunately I can't control the rest of the fleet and I think with the boats being over [the line] it meant I just lost out on second overall.

"I've learnt a lot about Perth, and had some technique development - it's been a good trip."

Charlotte Dobson missed out on a shot at the podium with the cancellation of the Radial medal race and finished the regatta in fourth overall, with her team-mate Alison Young ninth.

Britain's Olympic sailing manager Stephen Park said: "We're going to go home happy that we've learned lots about Fremantle and have prepared well in terms of the World Championships in 2011.

"Different sailors have been practising and preparing differently for this event. We've had some focusing on their heavy weather performance so that's not really gone to plan in this regatta, but certainly has in the training period.

"For others, they've been looking at the racing and doing everything they can to win. It's been great to see some new talent coming through - Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign winning their first medal so that's great performance by them and that's going to give them great confidence going in to next year."

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see also
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More teams in next America's Cup
15 Feb 10 |  Sailing
Oracle secure America's Cup win
14 Feb 10 |  Sailing
Oracle wins America's Cup opener
12 Feb 10 |  Sailing

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