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World championship bronze for Britain’s ‘sailing Sophies’

Written by 11th August 2018 Featured-post, World Championships

Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth claimed Great Britain’s second medal at the Sailing World Championships on Saturday winning bronze in the 49er FX class.

The medal comes less than a month since they brought home the same medal from the class European championships in Gydnia, Poland.

The pair, who only officially teamed up in April this year, went into the final race of the regatta in Aarhus, Denmark, in second, and halfway round the course looked set to defend their position from the front of the fleet.

But a huge squall hit the ten-boat fleet, sending the wind from a handful of knots to more than 18 in a matter of seconds, and capsizing the race leaders, Austria’s Tanja Frank and Lorena Abicht, in the process.

Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth

Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth. Ocean Images/RYA

With the breeze swinging by more than 60 degrees and just two legs remaining of the five-leg course, Weguelin and Ainsworth suddenly found themselves scrapping it out in the middle of the pack.

With Frank and Abicht relegated to the back of the fleet, the Netherlands’ Annamiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz shot into second, which was enough to give them the overall victory.

The Austrian pair took silver, with Weguelin and Ainsworth finishing just three points behind them in third.

The British duo received their medals from Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, a keen sailor who regularly competes at international regattas.

“We’re really happy with how we sailed this week, and to finish it off with a medal is brilliant,” said Ainsworth, 29, who hails from Ashford in Kent but now lives in Chichester, West Sussex.

“We had a lot of nerves going into the medal race and said that we’d just take it as it comes. To get a bronze here is pretty surreal actually – when we crossed the finish line it dawned on us that it was our second bronze medal. It doesn’t feel real.

“There’s definitely stuff we need to improve on but we really like the way we work together and we’re having fun. If we can keep it going for the next two years then let’s see what we can do.”

Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth

Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth celebrate their world championship bronze medal. Sailing Energy/World Sailing

Weguelin, 29, from Lymington, Hants, added: “We didn’t have a great start to the regatta but we stuck to our processes and it really paid off for us.

“Everything’s going really well at the moment and we’re really enjoying it, so it’s nice to see the results coming as well.”

Weguelin and Ainsworth’s bronze adds to the bronze won by Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre in the women’s 470 on Thursday.

Their result also confirms Great Britain’s place in the 49er FX competition at Tokyo 2020.

Fellow Brits Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey finished ninth in the medal race to take tenth overall.

James Peters and Fynn Sterritt. Sailing Energy/World Sailing

In the 49er medal race, Britain’s James Peters and Fynn Sterritt confirmed their return to the Olympic circuit after four-month absence scoring fifth overall.

Peters and Sterritt, last year’s world championship runners up, were side-lined in April when Sterritt picked up a knee injury that required surgery.

After a mid-fleet start, the pair fought their way back to cross the finish line in second, sealing fifth overall.

Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell, the 2017 world champions, finished one place and two points behind their British Sailing Team compatriots after coming sixth in the medal race.

The scheduled trio of medal races in the Formula Kite category, proposed for inclusion in the 2024 Paris Olympics, was called off due to thunder and lightning over the race course.

Britain’s Guy Bridge won a silver medal, finishing four points behind France’s Nicolas Parlier. Bridge’s mother Steph came fourth in the women’s kite competition.

Sunday will see the Sailing World Championships conclude with the medal races for the Nacra 17 mixed multihull and men’s and women’s RS:X windsurfers.

British pair John Gimson and Anna Burnet will start the Nacra 17 race in eighth, while reigning world champion Ben Saxton will go into it in tenth alongside crew Nikki Boniface.

In the men’s and women’s RS:X, Great Britain’s hopes lie with previous youth world champions Emma Wilson and Kieran Holmes-Martin.

Racing starts at 1pm UK time and can be watched live at www.britishsailingteam.com.

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

For the latest British Sailing Team updates from the Sailing World Championships go to its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.