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'We are capable of being the best' – Lymington sailors look on the bright side after false-start heartbreak at world championships



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Vita Heathcote and Ryan Orr action in Villamoura, Portugal
Vita Heathcote and Ryan Orr action in Villamoura, Portugal

ROYAL Lymington YC sailors Vita Heathcote and Ryan Orr suffered two heartbreaking false starts to miss out on the chance to fight for a gold medal at the 420 World Championships in Villamoura, Portugal.

The duo were in a strong position after two days of racing. However, on the third day the pair – after crossing the line in second place twice – then found out they had committed false starts in both races.

Vita, who teamed up with Ryan in 2019, said: “We were pleased at our performance in the first two days. Despite the unstable and unpredictable conditions, we managed to pull together a string of respectable results by limiting risks around the racecourse.

“We were in a solid position, ready to reel in the teams ahead of us and felt confident with our boat speed.

“After a stunning performance in the first race of the day, we fought our way around the racecourse and crossed the line in second.

“We both gave a sigh of satisfaction only to see the look on our coach’s face. I instantly knew that we must have started over the line.

“We picked ourselves up and got ready to go and smash the next one.

“After a disaster of an upwind, we clawed our way back up the fleet and finished second again.

Vita and Ryan after the Vilamoura Grand Prix
Vita and Ryan after the Vilamoura Grand Prix

“Chuffed to bits with our comeback, we glanced over to see our coach, anticipating the excitement and pride on his face.

“We were met with a shake of the head and disappointment in his eyes.”

Despite this, the duo, who affectionately refer to themselves as ‘RyVita’, regrouped and registered superb results in the following days. This meant they restored their medal hopes for the final day’s race.

Vita added: “The hardest part was knowing that, without the Black Flag Disqualification (BFD), we could’ve gone into the medal race in gold contention. Instead, we went into day six in fifth with potential for a silver medal or for 10th place – anything was possible!

“We struggled to gain back our confidence in our starts after the BFDs, and this hindered our race. It didn’t go well; we ending up eighth in the race and eighth overall.”

The world championships were preceded by the three-day Vilamoura Grand Prix. Results were close, but the GB pair finished third overall, level on points with second and one point behind first.

Vita added: “The positives are that we were one of the fastest boats in the fleet throughout all conditions; we raced well and are capable of winning the event. We also proved that we could pick ourselves back up after major disappointment. I’m proud of us for that.

“We believe we will get there, and we have proved to ourselves that we are capable of being the best. It will happen one day.”

Vita and Ryan are granted elite athlete exemptions meaning they can travel for training camps and events.

Their aim is to make the 2024 Paris Olympics in the mixed 470 fleet, which will be the event’s Olympic debut. To follow their journey, visit their Facebook page Vita/Ryan470sailing



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