Sophies win gold_Main

Ainsworth and Weguelin

Exeter Alumnae Win Gold at 470 European Championships

Light winds were the order of the day in what was to prove testing for both athletes and the Race Committee during the Open 470 European Sailing Championships.

The 470 Championships are a key event on the international sailing calendar, with many of the teams heading to Weymouth after the competition to compete at the Olympic Games. Sports Scholars alumnae Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth were representing Great Britain at the Championships, this year hosted by Largs Sailing Club in Ayrshire – one of Scotland’s premier dinghy and keel boat racing clubs.

The International 470 Class is the class of boat used for both the men’s two person and women’s two person dinghy events at the Olympic Games as it is suitable for body weights from all continents and to performing across a wide range of weather conditions.

Following qualifying rounds and the six scheduled races of the Championships (during which the wind played havoc, eventually causing abandonment of the Men’s Medal Race), the British win from the two Sophies was by no means easy. With the top four women’s teams competing in the final Medal Race and only a four point separation between the top three teams (Great Britain, Germany, Slovenia and Croatia), everyone’s hopes were pinned on the outcome of the final race as to who would take which position on the winners’ podium. 

Sophie Ainsworth reported:“We had a bit of a tense race, we didn’t have the best start and we were playing catch up from then on. The Slovenians beat us in the race, but we had enough of a points margin that we won. It was a bit of a test of nerves and we were both shaking afterwards with all the adrenaline. We are ecstatic that we came through in the end; it gives us a lot of confidence. We’ve been sailing well and hopefully we can repeat that at more events and work our way up. Next it’s back to Weymouth, training in the build-up to this year’s Olympic Games and in 2016 hopefully you’ll see us on the podium.”

The two Sophies both graduated from Exeter in 2010 with 2:1 degrees in Sports Science. They went on to become full-time members of Skandia’s Team GBR’s Olympic Development Squad and are hoping for selection to represent Great Britain at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Their win at Largs against 2012 Olympic athletes confirmed their credentials at this top level of international sailing.

Nick Beasant, Assistant Director of Sport (Performance & Competitions), was delighted with the pair’s continued success and progress: “Since graduating, both have worked so hard at developing their skills and sailing ability while competing at the highest level within the 470 class. This is a real reward for all these efforts and will help them establish them still further for the start of the next Olympic cycle following the conclusion of London 2012.”

Date: 16 July 2012