Today, the last races took place concluding the 470 Men and 470 Womens's Worlds as part of the 2003 ISAF World Championship. Lots of pressure was on the overall leaders who were challenged to defend their efforts to date.
Racing was postponed in the early morning, due to a lack of wind. When a sea breeze came up, an attempt was made to start the final race of the Men. The tense fleet went over the staring line too early, which resulted in a general recall. Unfortunately, two minutes later the wind left the race course.
After some time of waiting, some light winds came up, shifting between a Levante and a light see breeze. As the wind direction got steady, the start of the final race became certain.
Eugeny BRASLAVETS / Igor MATVIENKO (UKR) were the first ones to round the upper mark, followed by Benjamin BONNAUD / Romain BONNAUD (FRA) and Russia's Dmitri BEREZKIN / Mikhail KRUTIKOV, but no sign yet of the Italian, Spanish or Australian Men who were fighting for the medals. This battle was taking place further back in the fleet. Italy's Gabrio ZANDOA / Andrea TRANI came around the upper mark in about 12th position, being lucky that their closed rivals for the title were way behind. Alvaro MARTINEZ / Dimas WOOD rounded the mark at about 24th and Nathan WILMOT / Malcolm PAGE fighting the last places with about three boats behind them.
Coming to the downwind gate, it was obvious to which high level these men where playing the game. The whole fleet approached the downwind mark in one group, close together, which caused a lot of yelling and struggling to get through the bottleneck and proceed the race upwind.
The Italian boys managed to fight their way up a little to finish in 9th position while the Spanish were set back into the fleet closing bringing up the rear with a 32nd position. The Australian guys were able to take advantage of this situation and ended 27th, which was enough for them to claime the Silver Medal.
Gabrio Zandona and Andreas Trani
© Event Media
One thing that got clear in the progress of this Championship is the power of Greece's Sofia BEKATOROU / Emilia TSOULFA. The battle today was for the Silver and Bronze, without the presence of the Queens of the 470 that have just become World Champions for the fourth time in a row.
Just like in the mens's fleet, a lot of lower overall ranked women were present in the front of the fleet at the last final race. Ingrid Petitjean / Nadege Douroux from France were able to take advantage of this situation and although placed 11, were able to retain Silver. Jenny ARMSTRONG / Belinda STOWELL from Australia were less lucky and gave away their Bronze to Vlada Ilienko / Nnatalia Gaponovich from Russia.
Subject to ISAF ratification, nations qualified for the 2004 Olympic Regatta from the 2003 ISAF World Championship are:
Men - Ukraine, Russia, Brazil, The Netherlands, Sweden, Slovenia, Croatia, Korea, Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, France
Women - Australia, Great Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Japan, New Zealand, Slovenia, Hungary
Multihull Open - Tornado
Darren Bundock and John Forbes (AUS)
© Event Media
The 2003 World Title is the 4th for Darren (1998, 2001 and 2002) and the 6th for John (1989, 1992, 1998, 2001 and 2002) who also won a Bronze Medal in the 1992 Barcelona Games.
The 'Levante' came back to farewell the Tornado sailors. It was a short visit though. Race 10, the last one for the fleet, started full of expectations for many sailors. A good race today could bring the British back to the first position, dependent on a bad one for the Australians.
The Tornados started their first last attempt for a better position at 1310 with 10-11 knots. The 'Levante' (easterly wind) left and yesterday's 'Poniente' (westerly wind) came back cancelling the race. The second start happened at 1537 with 7 knots, a black flag and new hopes.
The British McMillan/Bulkeley and the Australians had a very close race, ' We would stay with them all day if necessary', said John Forbes after winning today's race. The British finished second after 3 boats came back.
'Leigh and Mark are sailing very well and they deserved the Silver medal' added Darren BUNDOCK without hiding the happiness for one more title.
The Argentineans Santiago LANGE and Carlos ESPINOLA had a lay-day today, their third position was guaranteed and the chance of getting the Silver was almost impossible. 'We decided to go on the coach boat and watch them racing. You can actually learn a lot by only studying their tactics. With the Bronze medal assured, we didn't want to interfere with the other boats.' said Santiago LANGE.
Roland GAEBLER and Gunnar STRUCKMANN kept the overall 4th position and qualified Germany for the Olympic Games.
Subject to ISAF ratification, the countries that qualified for the 2004 Olympic Regatta are: Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands, United States, Italy, Spain and Puerto Rico.
Single handed Dinghy Open - Laser
Gustav LIMA (POR) Laser World Champion
© Event Media
The day started off with the sailors were held on shore for an hour as a land breeze began to develop and eventually freshened to 12-14 knots for the start. After one general recall the fleet started successfully after Scheidt and Lima put on a display of pre-start match racing manoeuvres. They continued this until 1 minute before the start when they both sailed up to find small holes 5 boats apart at the committee boat end of the line.
Coming off the line it became evident that Lima had a slight advantage in boat speed and Scheidt eventually broke off a loose cover to allow Lima the right hand side of the course while he worked the middle of the first leg.
At the first mark rounding Peter SANTEN (SWE) lead from Mike LEIGH (CAN) and third place overall Michael BLACKBURN (AUS). The leaders all came from the right hand side of the beat. Lima could only manage to round in 22 while Scheidt was further back in 35 place. Both sailors made gains on the downwind legs with Scheidt drawing almost level with Lima's transom as they rounded the bottom gate.
On the second beat Lima sailed the shifts better than Scheidt. Staying to the right of Scheidt he managed to increase his margin to 9 places as he rounded in tenth place. Peter SANTEN (SWE) held onto the lead and Diego Romero (ARG) sailed to second.
By the last mark rounding Santen continued to lead and Lima had fought his way to fifth, which was one place away from giving him victory on a tie break. However there was one further twist in this fascinating race as the breeze dropped for 2 minutes and then swung 120 degrees as the sea breeze began to fill in on the final short leg to the finish. Santen and Romero had enough of a lead to hold their positions, however Lima sailed out to sea and picked up the first puffs of the sea breeze to cross the line third to take his first World Championship, beating Scheidt by 1 point. Michael Blackburn (AUS) held on to third overall after a 13 place.
After the race Lima said he thought he had good boat speed as he has been training very hard and sailing at the venue since the 4 September.
"After the last beat when I rounded in tenth I thought it was possible for me to get the positions I needed so I concentrated on every wave and bit of pressure but I could only manage to round in fifth place. Just then the wind dropped and every one tacked, so I thought I must do something different. A motor boat went past and I caught his wave for about 10m and then tacked and got a little gust to cross third. I couldn't believe it I think God must have been on my side.'
Subject to ISAF ratification, nations qualified for the 2004 Olympic Regatta, from results at the 2003 ISAF World Championship are:
Portugal, USA, New Zealand, Argentina, Norway, Poland, Netherlands, France, Denmark, Germany, Belarus, Chile, Seychelles, Lithuania, Russia, Ukraine, China.
High performance Dinghy Open - 49er
Gold Medallists Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks (GBR) after a swim
© Peter Bentley
By contrast, Paul BROTHERTON and Mark ASQUITH (GBR) saw their Olympic selection hopes fade after two finishes at the back of the fleet saw them drop from second to fourth overall, with 72.6 points, less than a point off third place. Claiming a podium position might have given the British team some hope of extending the Olympic trials, but now Draper and Hiscocks are within one formal announcement of being selected for Athens.
Brotherton commented: "I don't think our hearts were in it today. We came here to win the Worlds and once that was gone it was hard to keep on going." Although most observers would say the winners made it look like a walk in the park, Draper disagreed. "We have been fighting, but we were fast," he said. "This is the first regatta this year where we have used all our best kit."
Although the 49er is a strict one-design, subtle differences in mast bend and sail shapes can give sailors a tiny edge that can make a world of difference off a tight start line.
The body language around the boat park afterwards reflected the wildly different emotions that the crews were feeling. But Christoffer SUNDBY was ecstatic." We were nervous today because we knew we would have to fight." Bovim added: "After the first race nothing was decided, so we had to focus on the next race.'
It has been double celebration for the Sundby family this past week, as Christoffer's sister Siren won the Europe Worlds a few days before. "My sister was very proud. She was out on the water today. It was great to have a support boat like this one."
An offshore breeze picked up to about 14 knots, which made for a picture book finish to the event, although the race committee, which has run the event without fault all week, made the bizarre decision of shortening the last race at the final windward mark. With the points so close between 2nd and 5th positions, who knows what difference an extra four-minute final downwind leg would have made?
Rodion LUKA, who has competed in every 49er World Championship since the class began seven years ago, said this was perhaps the best 'I think that it is good for the 49er to have its Worlds with the other Olympic classes. It's good for the sport. It would be better if it happened every year."
Last year's World Champion Iker MARTINEZ (ESP) was on the shore today to see how things would turn out. He had to sit out this Championship after his crew was badly injured during the Spanish Nationals earlier this month. But Martinez believes they will be back on the water in three weeks, and ready for revenge at next year's 49er World Championships to be held in Athens during April. That will be the last opportunity for nations to qualify for one of the coveted places at the Olympics in August. Meanwhile, eight new countries will be celebrating their inclusion in the 49er event at the Games. They are Norway, Germany, USA, Brazil, Switzerland, Australia, Poland, Austria.
The results of all the events here in Cadiz mean that Great Britain top the medal table, and along with it win the President of the IOC Cup for the best performing nation.
GBR - President of the IOC Cup Winners
© Peter Bentley