Win for birthday boy Patience as Wright goes top

Written by 4th August 2018 Featured-post, World Championships

Luke Patience scored a ‘birthday bullet’ on Saturday to stay in the hunt for his first world championships title as Ed Wright rocketed to the top of the Finn class leaderboard.

Patience, who turned 32 today, has two 470 world championship silver medals to his name from 2009 and 2011 alongside Stuart Bithell in the lead-up to their silver medal at London 2012.

But as the Sailing World Championships reached its halfway point for the men’s 470 fleet, Patience said his quest for gold with crew Chris Grube was firmly on track.

Patience and Grube, who represented Great Britain at Rio 2016, sit in fifth after three days of qualifying races at the regatta in Aarhus, Denmark, just seven points off the top spot.

The top half of all crews will now race one another over two days for a place in the ten-boat, double-points medal race scheduled for Thursday.

Luke Patience/Chris Grube

Luke Patience and Chris Grube. © Sailing Energy/World Sailing

“We feel in control – a lot of boats have been up and down and in these long weeks where the weather in unpredictable it’s steadiness that is king,” Patience said.

“I got a birthday bullet which was a nice present to myself. The last race today wasn’t so great, but it wasn’t nearly as bad for us as it was for some of our competitors.”

Patience and Grube had a strong start to 2018, winning the North American championships and the Miami round of the World Cup Series.

They have since teamed up with Andrea Manini, who coached the 470 gold medal winners at Rio 2016, to supercharge their campaign as the two-year countdown to Tokyo 2020 begins.

“I’m feeling pretty good – we’ve not set the world on fire yet but we’re ready to pounce on any mistakes our rivals make,” Patience added. “There’s a time and a place in a regatta to really push and it’s not there for us yet. We will wait for that moment and surprise our competitors when we do it.”

Meanwhile, two runner-up spots for reigning Finn European champion Wright sees him top the leaderboard going into the finals.

Wright, from Bournemouth, is tied on points with Finn Gold Cup champion Max Salminen from Sweden and The Netherlands’ Nicholas Heiner but takes the yellow jersey on countback.

Wright’s British Sailing Team compatriots Ben Cornish and Henry Wetherell also enjoyed strong performances, relishing the 10-15 knot breeze that Aarhus delivered.

Cornish, from Budleigh Salterton in Devon, sits fifth overall while Snaith’s Wetherell moves up to 24th.

As the 49ers began racing, current world champions Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell had a tricky start to their title defence, scoring a 15th and a 23rd before finding their form to come home third in the day’s final race. They go into the second day in 31st in the 86-boat fleet.

James Peters and Fynn Sterritt, returning to action after four months of injury-forced absence, notched up a 9, 4, 12 to sit 22nd after day one.

James Peters and Fynn Sterritt. © Sailing Energy/World Sailing

Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey led the British charge in the 49er FX, finishing the day in seventh, while European bronze medallists Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth sit 19th.

With qualification also ending for the women’s 470 fleet, Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre’s 5, 3 solidifies their second place overall while Amy Seabright and Anna Carpenter jump up to seventh.

In the Laser Radial, British sailor Hannah Snellgrove lies eighth after two days of qualification racing with British Sailing Team athlete Ali Young in 19th. Nick Thompson remains the top Brit in the Laser Standard, sitting fifth.

The 470s and Finns will enjoy a rest day on Sunday as the Nacra 17 mixed multihull, the men’s and women’s RS:X and men’s and women’s kiteboard get their world championships underway.

Full results from the regatta can be found here, and a schedule of racing is here.