Eighteen-year-old Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) student Lewis Burras beat Olympic silver medallist Duncan Scott to take gold in the men’s 100m freestyle at the British Swimming Championships in Edinburgh.
Lewis took the top spot on the podium with a personal best of 49.89 seconds, safely within the qualification time for this year’s European Junior Championships. He was also the only swimmer in the 100m freestyle final to swim under 50 seconds.
The race was hotly contested, with Edinburgh’s David Cumberlidge and Stirling’s Duncan Scott both hot on Burras’ heels at the turn. Though Cumberlidge was barely a fingertip behind at the 50m mark, Burras powered down the final 50m to win the race and take the gold medal.
Lewis said after the victory: “It felt great to win especially racing against these older guys and I think this is great preparation for next year as I transition from junior and compete on the senior stage. The atmosphere here is incredible, as soon as the lights went down, I know it was game-face time.”
Lewis joined JESS as a young primary student and first got into the water at just three years old. For the last couple of years, Lewis has been a part of the British Swimming Junior Performance Team and in that time has been climbing up the rankings of the senior swimmers.
His training, as you would expect, is grueling with Lewis training daily before and after school with Hamilton Aquatics under the expert guidance of his swim coach Ash Morris.
Katie Raybould, head of aquatics at JESS, said: “At 18, for a male, Lewis is still classed as a junior, so for a junior swimmer to take gold at the men’s senior 100m freestyle title at the British Championships in Edinburgh last week, is a pretty outstanding achievement especially when he was competing against well-established senior athletes including Duncan Scott who represented Great Britain at the Rio Olympics and was part of the medal winning relay there.”
Shane O’Brian, secondary head at JESS, added: “The commitment needed to swim competitively at this level and still maintain school work is hugely commendable. Lewis is an outstanding athlete and an exemplary student, and the whole of JESS are proud of his achievements and we will certainly be celebrating when he returns to school.”
Burras’ mum summed up his hard work by saying: “We are so proud of Lewis. The dedication, focus and drive he has to achieve his dreams is inspiring and even though he has had setbacks, he has learnt from those experiences and used them to make him stronger and more determined.
“He usually has three-to-four overseas swim meets a year and I can’t thank the entire team at JESS enough for the support, encouragement and guidance they have given him, tailoring his studies around his training and overseas competitions, ensuring he is still on track to achieve his academic goals, as well as his sporting ones.”
Valentin Bellet’s polished outfit took the spoils in the Gulf classic, revamped for 2018 to feature a fleet of super-fast Diam 24 trimarans doing battle in five long ‘coastal raids’ and five short, intense stadium race series at venues all over Oman.
The new format demanded strength, skill and tenacity from the eight international crews competing for the coveted top spot while also showcasing Oman’s natural beauty.
Over the course of the 14 day-campaign Beijaflore were models of consistency, dominating three coastal raids plus the Salalah stadium racing.
They won a quarter of the 19 individual stadium races held and finished in a podium position in all but seven races – an impressive scorecard as the team now turns its attention to the Tour Voile, the highlight of the Diam 24 season.
Thierry Douillard’s EFG Bank Monaco, winners of every EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour since 2013, took the runners-up spot with five individual race wins and two coastal raid victories.
Third place went to Averda, led by British two-time Olympian Stevie Morrison.
“The whole Beijaflore team is really happy to win EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour,” said Beijaflore skipper Bellet, 26, from La Rochelle. “We came here wanting to win and we pulled it off. On paper we have a good advantage but the reality is that on the water it was very close between all the teams.
“We have a very good team, we were well prepared, we fought for every place in every race. This is, ultimately, what made the difference.
“This event has been fantastic training for the Tour Voile – in France now it is very cold and we can’t sail very often but here it’s possible to race every day against some of the top teams and discover this beautiful country. It’s the perfect preparation for us.”
Buoyed by a third-place finish in the 2017 Tour Voile, Beijaflore set an early benchmark with victories in both the coastal raid and stadium racing in Salalah, adding to it with coastal raid wins in Duqm and Ras Al Hadd.
EFG Bank Monaco, meanwhile, started on the back foot with sixth in the Salalah stadium racing series.
Douillard’s crew, including former match racing world champion Mathieu Richard, answered back as the Tour moved north, winning stadium racing in Duqm and the coastal raid in Masirah Island.
French team Vivacar.fr chucked their hat in the ring with a stadium racing victory in Masirah, while Averda claimed the top spot for the inshore action in Sur.
A win in the fifth coastal raid to Muscat’s old town of Muttrah, framed by the stunning Al Hajar mountains, gave EFG Bank Monaco a final boost but by this point Beijaflore’s lead was unassailable.
The final podium positions were confirmed when the fifth and final round of stadium racing was cancelled due to lack of wind.
“We are happy to come second – it’s a very positive thing for our team” said EFG Bank Monaco’s Omani trimmer Ali Al Balushi. “We have had a great two weeks together as a team and as a family.
“The racing was very tight and it was a great opportunity to compete against some of the best teams. It makes me proud to have represented Oman and to have been able to show off my country to so many sailors from all over the world.”
The EFG Bank Monaco crew will now join forces with Averda’s sailors to form a formidable Oman Sail entry in the 2018 Tour Voile where they will aim to improve on last year’s fifth-place finish.
Five race wins for Matthieu Souben’s Vivacar.fr against two for Bernard Stamm’s Cheminees Poujoulat decided the tie for fourth place, while young guns Lorina Golfe du Morbihan, all under the age of 21, finished sixth.
All-woman crew DB Schenker, skippered by Volvo Ocean Race star Elodie-Jane Mettraux and featuring Omani sailors Marwa Al Khaifi and Tamadher al Balushi, were just pipped to seventh by EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour veteran Cedric Pouligny’s Renaissance.
A spectacular day of racing on Khalid Lagoon was capped off with Quinten Bossche, Emma-Nellie Ortendahl and Yousef Al Abdulrazzaq sealing the world titles in Ski and Runabout at the UIM-ABP Grand Prix of Sharjah.
Bossche’s first Ski GP1 world title tops a remarkable first season on the UIM-ABP tour for the young Belgian rider from Ostende, but it was Kevin Reiterer who dominated both races and maintained his perfect record in Sharjah winning both of today’s Motos to move up into second spot in the championship standings.
In both Motos it was Reiterer leading from the start and holding of Bossche, with Gabor Szabo picking up his best result of the season finishing third in Moto 1 and Stian Schjetlein taking third in Moto 2.
In the Ladies division it was all about Sweden’s Emma-Nellie Ortendahl who was in a class of her own winning both Motos comfortably to successfully defend her title.
She led from pole in Moto 1 and stretched out her lead lap-by-lap to take an effortless win by 25 seconds, second place going to Jonna Borgstrom who passed a struggling Estelle Poret on lap six with Krista Uzare also going passed Poret to take third place, Sofie Borgstrom coming home in fifth ahead of Katrin Nilbe.
Ortendahl sealed her second successive title cruising home in Moto 2 by almost 30 seconds and finishing ahead of Krista Uzare and Kylie Ellmers.
It was a disappointing day for Estelle Poret who saw her title hopes fade completely after being disqualified in Moto 2 and there was also disappointment for Moto 1 runner-up Jonna Borgstrom who crashed heavily on the start lap.
In Runabout, defending champion Yousef Al Abdulrazzaq made no mistakes winning both Motos in style.
In Moto 1 he trailed his title rival James Bushell for five laps before making the telling pass and running out a comfortable winner to take victory by over 25.09s. Jeremy Perez maintained his run of good form with his third top three finish in as many outings, finishing in front of another title hopeful Lars Akerblom. Poland’s Andrzej Wisniewski produced by far his best performance of the season with a great drive to take fifth, Johan Johansson completing the top six.
In the second Moto Abdulrazzaq led from start to finish to seal his fourth world title with Sweden’s Lars Akerblom in second ahead of James Bushell, Andrzej Wisniewski rounding out a great day in fourth with Patrice Pellier in fifth.
Rashed Al Mulla was once again the star in Freestyle scoring 90 points and leads the Grand Prix standings with maximum points heading into tomorrow’s final Moto. Nac Forjancic is in second place, with Roberto Mariani in third.