Skandia Sail for Gold Wraps Up 2009-2010 ISAF Sailing World Cup
After five hours of gripping racing out on Weymouth Bay the podiums for Skandia Sail for Gold were decided and crucial points added to the ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings.
Australia go home from Weymouth laden with medals after picking up the gold medal in four events; Nicky Souter, Nina Curtis and Olivia Price in the Women's Match Racing, the Skud18 was won by Daniel Fitzgibbon and Rachael Cox on Friday, Tom Slingsby took gold in the Laser Men, and Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen made up the top quartet with a win in the 49er class.
The French team pushed Australia all the way, with three gold medals - Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos winning the 470 Men, Charline Picon took gold home in the RS:X Women, and in the 2.4mR, it was Damien Seguin who did the business for France. The Dutch team then edged the home nation out of the gold medal table with wins in two classes, Marit Bouwmeester in the Laser Radial and Udo Hessels, Marcel van de Veen and Mischa Rossen in the Sonar. While Team Skandia GBR were left with a single gold - Giles Scott in the Finn. The consolation for the home team was a hatful of the lesser shades, two silver and four bronze medals.
The venue, Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, is the 2012 Olympic venue and it threw everything at the competitors this week - saving the best for last, with a Medal Race day that was vintage British summer; wind, rain, near calms and even a little sunshine right at the end. The huge entry of 975 sailors from 57 nations, spread across 712 boats in 13 classes, will go home having learned to expect the unexpected in August 2012.
Men's One Person Dinghy - Laser
The Medal Race action kicked off with the Men's Laser fleet - Australia's Tom Tom Slingsby had to fend off the challenge of Britain's 2008 Olympic gold medallist, Paul Goodison. Goodison had an eight point deficit, and the easiest way for Slingsby to win was to ensure that both sailors ended up at the back of the ten-boat fleet. He did it particularly effectively, inflicting a penalty on Goodison that put the Brit to the back and into silver. Canada's Michael Leigh picked up the bronze, while his compatriot, David Wright had the consolation of winning the medal race.
Leigh's bronze medal boosted him two places up the Standings to finish the series third overall behind Nick Thompson (GBR) and Javier Hernandez (ESP).
Women's One Person Dinghy - Laser Radial
The Laser Radial fleet have been locked in a war of attrition all week, with long days on the water and precious few races to show for it on occasions, as these highly competitive teams struggled to get good starts. No such problems in the ten-boat Medal Race however, and the Netherland's Marit Bouwmeester finally clinched the gold medal that she has had at least one hand on all week. Finland's Sari Multala completed a remarkable comeback - the 2010 World Champion wasn't even qualifying for the medal race at the start of Friday's racing, but she ended up with silver. New Zealand's Sara Winther took the bronze.
Bouwmeester's third regatta win of the 2009-10 season maintained her position at the top of the Standings to take the overall World Cup win ahead of Veronika Fenclová (CRO) and Paige Railey (USA).
Women's Match Racing
The Women's Match Racing finals were sailed concurrently with the early Medal Races. In the petit-final to decide third and fourth place, the USA team of Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vandemoer and Deborah Capozzi defeated the Dutch team of Renee Groeneveld, Annemieke Bes and Brechtje van der Werf to win the bronze medal. With World Cup Standings leaders Lucy Macgregor, Kate Macgregor and Annie Lush (GBR) already confirmed in fifth place this meant Claire Leroy, Marie Riou and Elodie Bertrand (FRA) were confirmed as the ISAF Sailing World Cup champions for 2009-2010. The new champions took on Nicky Souter, Nina Curtis and Olivia Price (AUS) for the gold medal. The Australian's took the first two races, before Leroy fought back to win the third. But saving three successive match points was too much for Leroy and her team, and they lost the fourth race to cede the gold medal to Souter, Curtis and Price.
Tunnicliffe and her team take second overall in the ISAF Sailing World Cup behind Leroy with Lucy Macgregor finishing third.
Men's Two Person Dinghy - 470
The action was coming thick and fast on the two main harbour courses, where the Medal Races were alternating to supply a constant, almost dizzying sequence of action for the gathered crowds - both virtual and real. In the Men's 470, Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos have spent the week swopping the top spot with the newly crowned World and ISAF Sailing World Cup champions, Australians Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page. In the end it was France that took the gold, pushing Belcher and Page into silver. The bronze was taken by the British team of Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell.
The regatta win for Leboucher and Garos boosted them up the Standings from fourth to take second overall behind Belcher and Page. Swedens Anton Dahlberg and Sebastian Östling finished third after not making the Medal Race in Weymouth.
Women's Two Person Dinghy - 470
The Women's 470 fleet has been ultra competitive, with several leaders during the week, but it was the Japanese pair of Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata that had control going into the Medal Race. But they had to hold off a challenge from the Spanish team of Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos, who crossed the finish line right behind the Dutch World Champions, Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout. But Kondo and Tabata were third, more than enough to record a comfortable win overall and take gold, with Spain in silver and the American team of Erin Maxwell and Isabelle Kinsolving dropping from second overall going in, to take bronze.
The ISAF Sailing World Cup was a French affair for the women's 470 with Ingrid Petitjean and Nadège Douroux winning overall, Emmanuelle Rol and Hélène Defrance taking second and last year's winners Henriette Koch and Lene Sommer (DEN) finishing third.
Men's Skiff - 49er
The 49er class always produces some outstanding action. Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen converted a relatively comfortable 12 point lead over the chasing pack into a gold medal in smooth style, but all around them it was desperate stuff, with 3 points separating second from fourth place going in to the medal race. It was the Danish team of Peter Kruger-Andersen and Nicolai Thorsell that came away with silver; and the Brits, Stephen Morrison and Ben Rhodes got the bronze by just a point from the early leaders of the regatta, France's Emmanuel Dyen and Stéphane Christidis.
Fourth for Dyen and Christidis was enough to move them up to second overall in the ISAF Sailing World Cup behind Nico Delle - Karth and Nikolaus Resch (AUT) with Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang (DEN) finishing third.
Women's Windsurfer - RS:X
In the RS:X Women's fleet, Spain's Blanca Manchon - and defending champion of both Skandia Sail for Gold and the ISAF Sailing World Cup - went in to the race guaranteed silver or better. It was silver that she got, as her closest challenger, Charline Picon of France won the medal race with Manchon back in seventh. Britain's Bryony Shaw finished the race second behind Picon, but had to settle for bronze overall, the colour she got at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Manchon may not have won the gold medal but she did defened her ISAF Sailing World Cup title. Shaw finished second overall with Italian rising star Laura Linares (ITA) finishing third.
Men's Windsurfer - RS:X
The RS:X Men also had some British interest in the 2009 World Champion and Athens Bronze medallist, Nick Dempsey. Dempsey went into the final day even on equal points with France's Julien Bontemps, and the Netherland's Dorian Van rijsselberge just one point adrift of the leading pair. But it was Portugal's João Rodrigues who took gold, after grabbing second in an intense Medal Race. Van Rijsselberge got past Dempsey for silver, leaving the Brit in bronze and Bontemps in fourth.
Bontemps may not have won a Skandia Sail for Gold but he did finish high enough to win the 2009-2010 ISAF Sailing World Cup. Second overall was Nimrod Mashich (ISR) with Ivan Pastor Lafuente (ESP) in third.
Keelboat - Star
The big guns of the Star fleet had been put in the shade all week by the Irish team of Peter O'leary and Frithjof Kleen. The Sydney 2000 Olympic Finn bronze medalist, Fredrik Loof and his crew Johan Tillander (SWE) had just edged ahead of the Irish yesterday, but O'Leary and Kleen were not to be denied. They sailed a very collected race to come third, and with Loof and Tillander back in ninth, the Irish were golden. Poland's Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki went home with bronze, fending off the former Laser superstar, Brazil's Robert Scheidt and his crew Bruno Prada.
Despite not competing in Weymouth Eivind Melleby and Petter Morland Pedersen (NOR) had already done enough to win the World Cup title after winning the gold in Miami, Hyeres and Medemblik. Second overall went to Andy Horton and James Lyne (USA) with Guillaume Florent and Pascal Rambeau (FRA) finishing third.
Men's One Person Dinghy (Heavy) - Finn
And so we'll end as we began, with what was probably the biggest story of the week - there's nothing like burying your lead. Ben Ainslie's (GBR) much touted return to the Finn fleet that he had so completely dominated for so long had fizzled and sparked all week. A brilliant performance on Friday had put him up into second place this morning. But gold was virtually out of reach and in the pocket of Giles Scott. But Scott looked unsettled and couldn't recover from a mid-fleet start, only just doing enough for gold with an eighth place finish. Ainslie didn't start well either, but pulled back to finish third with a familiar relentlessness. Unfortunately, the two boats still ahead of him were France's Jonathan Lobert and Croatia's Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic. And that result dumped Ainslie into fourth, leaving France with gold and Croatia silver.
Fifth place for Britain's Ed Wright secured him the overall World Cup win with Lobert finishing second and Spain's Rafa Trujillo Villar finishing third.