Beckett seals silver at ILCA Euros
The British Sailing Team’s Michael Beckett picked up his third podium result in three years at the ILCA European Championships as he claimed silver in a nail-biting finale.
Beckett went into the event as the reigning champion and at the halfway stage had built up a healthy lead, but a comeback from class legend Pavlos Kontides halted plans for a second consecutive title.
With just two points splitting the pair going into the final race, it couldn’t have been closer.
The ILCA fleets are the largest and most closely contested on the Olympic circuit – and true to form, it came down to the final leg of the final race.
Beckett needed to put two places between his boat and Kontides, and with a second place result it was looking good, but the four-time Olympian from Cyprus held on to finish third and take the overall win.
Beckett’s silver rounds off a stellar 2022 season that also saw him win the Princess Sofia Regatta and take bronze at the Semaine Olympique Francaise.
“It really went down to the wire, the last beat of the last race,” Beckett said. “Not to win is tough, but it’s a tough game. Racing at this level is what it's all about, and I'm happy to be here.”
There were celebrations for Beckett’s teammates too. Sam Whaley finished the event in fifth overall, his best ever result at a European championships, adding to the 11th he scored at the worlds earlier in the year.
The result was made even more special due to Whaley’s comeback from the 60s at the start of the regatta.
“It’s great to finish off the year on such a high,” Whaley said. “Still hasn’t quite sunk in given the fight I had on at the start of the week but hopefully this will set me up well for 2023 and beyond. For now it’s time to figure out how to make the next step up and win these events. Full steam ahead!”
Meanwhile in the women’s fleet Matilda Nicholls and Daisy Collingridge excelled, posting PBs of their own. Nicholls was fourth, while Collingridge was seventh.
“Wow, what a week,” Nicholls said. “I am really pleased with how I sailed throughout the series despite starting the competition with a tough race. I also couldn’t be happier to see all my progression and learning to finally come together for a major senior competition.”
Collingridge added: “It’s pretty cool to have two of us in the top ten after such a tricky week at the Europeans. It’s a testament to our coach James [Gray] and everyone else that works so hard behind the scenes. We’re in a good place and we’ll keep pushing from here.”
Competing in her first major competition in months due to injury, Hannah Snellgrove came out of her corner swinging, and after three days of racing was leading.
However the intensity of racing took its toll and she retired from action with a day to spare to concentrate on her recovery.
“I’m pretty gutted right now but long term it’s the right decision not to race,” Snellgrove said. “I’m trying to take the positives… I’ve only done two consecutive days of sailing since June so to manage five long days in a row is a big step. And it was fun to wear the yellow bib, even temporarily!”
Full results from the regatta can be found here https://2022-senior.eurilca-europeans.org/.