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Stellar six-medal haul kicks off 2023 for British Sailing Team

Micky Beckett secured his second consecutive Princess Sofia Trophy win as the British Sailing Team brought home four golds and two silvers from the iconic Palma regatta.

Beckett dominated the ILCA 7 fleet over the six days of competition, building up such a points lead that he wrapped up the win with a day to spare.

The win picks up where Beckett left off last season, during which he finished on the podium in all but one regatta.

“I feel awesome,” said Beckett, from Solva, Pembrokeshire. “It was a beautiful day and I’m really happy. This week has been great.

“I’ve never had an experience before in sailing where it’s all been sewn up a day early and there’s been zero pressure in the medal race – it really was a dream. This time two years ago I never imagined that winning this regatta once was possible, let alone twice. I’m speechless.”

The Princess Sofia Trophy regatta is the season opener for the Olympic classes, and this year more than 1,300 athletes took part including 73 from the British Sailing Team and British Sailing Squad.

With just over a year until Paris 2024 the British Sailing Team shot out of the blocks, with Sam Sills, Emma Wilson, John Gimson and Anna Burnet, Connor Bainbridge and Ellie Aldridge all joining Beckett on the podium.

Six medals across the ten Olympic classes saw Britain top the overall medal table for the event.

Sills and Wilson both exorcised their medal race demons to take gold in the men’s and women’s iQFOiL, the new foiling windsurfer for Paris 2024.

Both athletes have been dominant in their fleets in recent regattas but have fallen foul of the iQFOiL winner-takes-all format of the final race – until now.

“Honestly this win means a lot,” said Sills, from Launceston in Cornwall. “There’s so much hard work that’s gone into it. It’s a really special moment.”

Olympic bronze medallist Wilson, from Christchurch, Dorset, added: “I’m super happy. It was a long week and I didn’t think it was going so well initially but I just kept going. I haven’t had the best track record of medal races but I said to myself that this time I’ve got this.”

In the Nacra 17 fleet Tokyo 2020 silver medallists Gimson and Burnet went into the final race in second with an eight-point gap to leaders Vittorio Bissaro and Maelle Frascari of Italy.

But a stellar second in the medal race saw them jump into the top spot overall to claim their first regatta win since being crowned world champions in 2021.

“This is such a big year in the run-up to the Olympics so it’s incredible to start it with a win,” said Burnet, from Rhu, Scotland.

“We had a bit on in the medal race to overhaul the Italians but we had a plan and stuck to it. It’s a real boost going into the rest of the season.”

Rounding off the medals were kite foilers Aldridge and Bainbridge, who both went one better than their bronze medals from the 2022 regatta.

“Our team had some outstanding performances and, as always, some areas to work on in what will be a very important year with country qualification on the line and an Olympic Test Event coming up,” said British Sailing Team performance director Mark Robinson.

“The outstanding performance for me was Micky winning back-to-back Trofeo Princess Sofia gold medals in different conditions each time and with a day to spare, in arguably one of the toughest and closest fought classes.

“To come home as top nation by a significant margin is down to all of the hard work our sailors, coaches and support staff have put in over the past winter.”

The British Sailing Team will be back in action in two weeks at the Semaine Olympique Francaise in Hyeres, France.

For full results from the Princess Sofia Trophy click here.

About the author

Will Carson