World title for Fletcher as he makes history in Porto

Dylan Fletcher
Dylan Fletcher

World number one ranked pair Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell won gold in a history-making feat at the 49er World Championships in Porto.

Lining up as overnight leaders, the newly-crowned European champions kept the chasing pack at bay to seal gold by four points.

With New Zealand having occupied the World title for the past six years, Fletcher-Bithell made history becoming the first Brits to top the podium since 2007 when their coach Ben Rhodes, along with Stevie Morrison, won the event along the coast in Cascais.

And with young guns James Peters-Fynn Sterritt also emulating last month’s Europeans by seeing off their rivals to secure silver, it was the best British result ever in the class with the team securing the top two steps of the podium.

“It was a Championship with a few delays, a few lost days – some with no wind, some with too much wind,” Fletcher explained.

“We got some really good racing in. There was potential that there was going to be half the races of the whole regatta – potentially seven races – so we went out to attack the last fleet racing, did a really good job and [we’ve] come out victorious!”

It became a battle of the Brits for golden glory as Fletcher describes.

“We knew we were guaranteed a silver going into the last race and the only way James and Fynn could beat us was to win it with us getting fourth or worse.

"So we tried to start to the right of them and stay ahead of them up the beat, which we did.

“We thought we’d done the job and the job was over, but we let them split from us and actually in hindsight that was a bit of a mistake because they managed to pull back a little bit.”

But the pair managed to hold off their team-mates and rivals.

A thrilled Bithell added: “We’ve spent a lot of time this summer actually not doing so much racing and have put a lot of time and energy into tuning with the other British sailors. It’s clearly paid off well. The boys are fast, we’re fast and actually the younger sailors in the programme as well are a lot quicker than they used to be, so that’s really good.”