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11 July 2007, 04:20 pm
Day 9: AYTON And TRUJILLO Win Gold
Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON celebrate victory
Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON celebrate victory

ISAF Sailing World Championships 2007
Cascais, Portugal

Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON (GBR) won the Yngling World Championship title in the first of today's Medal Races at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Cascais, Portugal. Rafa TRUJILLO (ESP) sailed a superbly to win in the Finn Medal Race and take the World title.
AYTON, WEBB and WILSON won their first Yngling World title to cap a superb season for the British trio and push them firmly into pole position in their battle for Beijing with Shirley ROBERTSON (GBR). The American team of Sally BARKOW, Carrie HOWE and Debbie CAPOZZI came second in the Medal Race to knock ROBERTSON, Annie LUSH and Lucy MACGREGOR out of the silver medal position.

Going into the race just one point apart, the battle between the two British teams looked certain to decide the title, but by the finish it was the Americans led by BARKOW who provided the biggest challenge to AYTON.

The Race

The three British crews in the Medal Race all went right after the start, with AYTON getting away best and looking to control ROBERTSON and her team. After the race AYTON emphasised the importance of this early advantage, 'The start is so important in these short races. We knew if we won the start, especially in a shifty venue which is what we excel in, we knew we'd be in with a good chance."

The Russian team of Ekaterina SKUDINA, Diana KRUTSKIKH, Natalia IVANOVA had a great first beat, arrived first at the top mark and extended from there to lead all the way around the track. AYTON, WEBB and WILSON rounded in second, whilst ROBERTSON and her team were buried towards the back of the fleet and a penalty on the run effectively ended their gold medal hopes.

Up the second beat a great piece of sailing by BARKOW, HOWE and CAPOZZI pushed them in front of AYTON Further drama followed for the British team at the windward mark when WILSON took a dip in the water. WEBB pulled her back in and the team set off on the downwind, still in the gold medal position.

On the final run BARKOW, HOWE and CAPOZZI looked solid in second meaning AYTON, WEBB and WILSON had to finish sixth or better to win gold. As the finish line approached they were in the midst of a four-boat battle for places four to seven, but held their nerve to cross the line sixth and claim the World Championship title.

Reflecting on the race afterwards AYTON pointed towards the team's experience with the new Olympic Format as a vital factor in their victory today, 'We've been lucky enough to involved in a lot of these Medal Races so we're well practiced, usually battling it out with Sally, so we knew what we had to do.'

Gold For Spain

A fascinating Finn Medal Race saw Rafa TRUJILLO (ESP) join the illustrious list of Finn World Champions. Daniel BIRGMARK (SWE) originally had control of the race, although he was never in the hunt for medals, whilst overnight leader Pieter-Jan POSTMA (NED) and Gasper VINCEC (SLO) vied for the gold medal spot for much of the first lap.

As POSTMA and VINCEC jostled for position, TRUJILLO sailed a fantastic second beat to lead at the final mark rounding.

'When I took the left pressure on the second upwind, I was the only one with this pressure,' he explained, 'I looked behind me and I was really close to Emilios [PAPATHANASIOU (GRE)] but Emilios did not have this pressure as well.'

From there the Spanish Olympic silver medallist looked to control from the front on the final downwind. He had built a solid lead by the top mark, but was very conscious of POSTMA coming up behind him on the run, especially after the young Dutchman had overtaken on the final downwind in yesterday's race. This time TRUJILLO ensured there would be no repeat and although POSTMA was able to close the gap, there was no stopping the Spaniard. POSTMA finished third to take silver medal, with VINCEC in fifth, grabbing the bronze.

Victory At Last

After going from second place to fifth after a terrible final race at the Worlds in Split last year TRUJILLO finally gets his hands on the Finn Gold Cup. Twice before it has evaded his grasp on the final day - most recently in Split and also four years ago in Cadiz, when an amazing comeback by Ben AINSLIE (GBR) denied him the title on his home waters.

TRUJILLO admitted afterwards that early in the race he thought it was going to be another missed opportunity, 'Today I was thinking it was going to happen the same way after I lost the first pressure in the first upwind - this is the third time that I'm going to lose the World Championship on the last day.'

But his terrific comeback ensured that it was to be third time lucky for the Spaniard. In lifting the Finn Gold Cup he joins once of the most distinguished clubs in the sailing world, with his name joining the likes of sailing legends Paul ELVSTROM (DEN), Jörg BRUDER (BRA), Willy KUHWEIDE (GER) and Hubert RAUDASCHL (AUT).

More British Success

Reigning European Champions Stevie MORRISON and Ben RHODES (GBR) continue to be the team to beat after the first day of racing in the 49er gold fleet. They racked up five bullets during the qualifying series and posted 4,8 scores today to lead by eight points going into the final day of gold fleet racing tomorrow.

RHODES said the teams successfully strategy has been all about keeping their options open, ' It's so shifty and so tricky that it's all about trying to prevent yourself from being pinned in positions by other boats. You need to be able to sail how you want to. Most of the guys here would pick the right route given the opportunity so it's about being able to keep those opportunities open.'

Nico DELLE - KARTH and Nikolaus LEOPOLD (AUT) are currently the only team within striking distance of the Brits, after they impressed today with 6,3 scores.

Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE (AUS) extended their lead after the first two races in the Men's 470 gold fleet. The 2004 and 2005 World Champions placed sixth and second to move 12 points clear at the front. Olympic silver medallists Nick ROGERS and Joe GLANFIELD (GBR) and Dutch daredevils Sven COSTER and Kalle COSTER tie for second place.

In the Women's 470 fleet Marcelien DE KONING and Lobke BERKHOUT (NED) continued their march towards a third consecutive World Championship title with a bullet and a second place in today's two races. Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadege DOUROUX (FRA) are kept the pressure on the leaders with an impressive 3,1 day to move into second overall, nine points behind.

Tomorrow's Medal Races

It's a youth versus experience battle for the Women's RS:X World Championship title, with 21 year old Zofia KLEPACKA (POL), a four-time ISAF Youth World Champion, facing off against 39 year old Barbara KENDALL (NZL), a four-time windsurfing World Champion. KLEPACKA holds the advantage after she was again the star performer in the moderate, shifty breeze on race area 3. A 2,2 scoreline for the day puts her 11 points ahead of KENDALL, with world #1 Marina ALABAU (ESP) a distant third.

Ricardo SANTOS (BRA) leads going into the men's Medal Race after another late finish for the windsurfers. World #1 Przemyslaw MIARCZYNSKI (POL) is second overall, eight points off the gold medal, whilst Nick DEMPSEY (GBR) lies in third place.

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