The ISAF Grade 1 SPA Regatta finished yesterday in Medemblik, Netherlands, closing another phase in the build up to the Olympic Games in Athens in two months time.
Some medals, like that of the Gold medal for Joeri VAN DYK (NED) in the Mistral Men, had been decided on the previous day but in other classes, the final race of the regatta was to be a make or break scenario, deciding who was to be in the chocolates.
An OCS in the final race of the Mistral men wasn't enough to drop the Silver medal from the clutches of Frenchman Julien BONTEMPS
. Ranked just behind Van Dyk in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, the two look set to battle all the way to the final race of the Olympic Games. With a second place in the final race of the regatta, Maxim OBEREMKO
(UKR) pulled up into the bronze medal position after an up and down regatta, and continues preparation for Athens.
Going into the final race of the regatta, Great Britain's double Olympic medallist Ben AINSLIE
was in fifth place overall in the Finn class and needed a good race to get himself onto the podium.
A fourth place finish was enough to see Ainslie move up the scoreboard into silver medal position, but the 1996 Olympic Finn Champion Mateusz KUSNIEREWICZ
of Poland went two better and a second place saw him take the gold medal.
Ainslie commented, "I was good but not good enough. I had a number of decent races but I also had some issues with rule 42 and equipment on the new boat. On the whole I was sailing well and everything is working well towards Athens in a few months time."
Athens bound sailors Shirley ROBERTSON
, Sarah AYTON and Sarah WEBB, who will represent Great Britain this summer in the Yngling class, won a bronze medal at the regatta. The team went into the final day in third place overall and needed to sail well in order to take home a medal.
In the tricky light conditions they managed to put in a fourth place finish which tied them on equal points with second placed Giulia CONTI
, Alessandra MARENZI and Angela BARONI of Italy. However the Italian team had a better score line and took the silver medal leaving the British team with the bronze.
In the Mistral women's fleet Natasha STURGES finished on a high, scoring a third place which left her in fifth place overall after a number of sailors moved up the scoreboard once a second discard came into play. Faustine MERRET
of France won the class from Jessica CRISP
There was all to play for going into the final race of the Star class with just three points separating second and fifth place. After the first race was caused to be abandoned due to lack of breeze, a second one eventually got underway in five knots of pressure. A final first place for Peter BROMBY
and Lee WHITE of Bermuda gave them the gold medal from Ross MACDONALD and Mike WOLFS of Canada.
In the Laser class it was a victory for Vasilij ZBOGAR (SLO) after he sailed a superbly mature and consistent series in difficult conditions. No fewer than seven first place finishes and not a single result out of the top three enabled him to discard his final race of a DNF. In second place it was Kalle SUNESON
(SWE), ranked seventh in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, who was the best of the rest. Two OCS scores in the series prevented him from being a serious challenger from the title.
The next ISAF Grade 1 event for all the Olympic Classes is the renowned Kiel Week in Germany in June. Full results and photos from SPA can be found on the event website at the address below.