Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre will attempt to bring home gold for Great Britain at the Sailing World Championships tomorrow after bagging the nation a spot in the women’s 470 at Tokyo 2020.
Mills and McIntyre will go into the class’s medal race – a single double points-scoring race for the top ten boats – in third overall after just seven races in Aarhus, Denmark.
And with just ten points splitting them from leaders Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka of Japan, they will be in with a shot of gold when the final battle begins just before 2.30pm UK time.
Mills, 30, the reigning Olympic champion in the class, vowed that she and McIntyre, 24, will throw everything at their rivals in pursuit of the top spot.
“It’s been a long tricky week – we’ve definitely made some mistakes along with having some great races, so we are excited to go into the medal race with a chance of winning,” said Mills, who won the 470 world title in 2012 with former crew Saskia Clark.
“It’s reasonably tight with the top four but we want to go for the win as it is a great opportunity to practise this attacking way of sailing before Tokyo. We don’t get many really high-pressure events like this and this is a high-pressure position to be in, so we will give it everything.”
Whatever happens, Mills and McIntyre can’t finish outside the top eight teams – and that guarantees Great Britain a place at in the women’s 470 competition at Tokyo 2020.
In the men’s 470, London 2012 silver medallist Luke Patience and crew Chris Grube had hoped to be among the ten crews fighting for a place on the podium in the medal race.
But a 17th and 13th on the final day of full fleet racing saw the pair slip out of the top ten and into 11th, denying them the opportunity.
The silver lining is that with three Japanese crews and two Swedes ahead of them in the rankings, Patience and Grube have also qualified Great Britain’s men’s 470 at Tokyo.
Mills and McIntyre won’t be the only ones fighting for a place on the podium. Ed Wright will begin the Finn class medal race in ninth, with a chance of winning either silver or bronze.
If Wright can finish in the top eight he too will secure a country spot at the upcoming Olympics.
As the 49er FX fleet resumed racing after a rest day on Tuesday, Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth enjoyed their best day of the competition so far, ending it with a 15, 3, 2 score line.
The results rocket them nine places up the standings to fifth with one day of fleet racing remaining before their medal race.
“Conditions were really tricky with light winds and really close racing,” Ainsworth said. “It was really easy to get things wrong.”
Weguelin added: “Now we’re into the gold fleet the competition has really stepped up. We’re just trying do our best each day and stick to our routines.”
Team mates Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey had a less successful day, slipping to 14th overall in the tricky conditions on Aarhus’ stadium race course.
Ironically a huge storm then swept through Aarhus Bay as the teams returned to the boat park, almost flattening the fleet with 40-knot gusts and soaking them in the process.