A fourth in the final race of the series was enough to secure the Gold medal, and World Championship title for Hannah SWETT, Joan TOUCHETTE and Melissa PURDY from USA on the final day of racing for the women's keelboat event here in Cadiz.
Going into the final day of racing in the Yngling fleet, they were a single point behind Ulrike SCHUEMANN, Wibke BUELLE and Winnie LIPPERT(GER). Both crews were guaranteed either a bronze, silver or Gold Medal but it was the American's who took the initiative on the final day.
Hannah had commented yesterday on her approach to today's race, "We have a strategy, we just have to execute it." And execute it they did.
|Hannah SWETT, Joan TOUCHETTE
and Melissa PURDY
© Aline Siepmann
It was early series leader Dorte JENSEN (DEN), with her crew of Helle JESPERSEN and Rachel KIEL, had to fight back from some disappointing mid series races, and with a second in the final race, nipped into the bronze medal position previously occupied by Kristin WAGNER, who had a tenth in race eleven and finished four points behind Dorte. Dorte had led the final race from the start, but lost out to Betsy ALISON (USA) Lee ICYDA and Susanne LEECH, who took the lead after the second windward leg, and held this place to take the gun.
As well as World Champions, Olympic qualification was up for grabs in today's racing and subject to ISAF ratification the following previously unqualified nations have gained entries to the Olympic Games in Athens 2004: Great Britain, Russia, Italy, France, Australia and the Ukraine.
They will join, Spain, Germany, USA, Bermuda, Denmark and Greece as host nations on the start line of the first race from the Agois Kosmas Olympic Sailing Centre in Athens. A further three nations will qualify at the class World Championship in 2004, making 15 the total number of nations at the Olympic Games in 2004.
After a general recall on the first start, racing got underway cleanly second time with Ekaterina SKOUDINA (RUS) getting a good start from the starboard end. Most of the fleet either played the middle of the course or the left hand, onshore side. However, two of the early leaders, Ulrike SCHUEMANN (GER) and Betsy ALISON split up the first leg, only coming together again at the windward mark at the top end of the fleet.
Dorte JENSEN rounded the first mark ahead of the pack, and by the leeward mark both herself and Trina PALLUDAN (DEN) were in first and second, both deciding up the second beat to head to the left hand side of the course, rounding the inshore end of the gate. Most of the pack went round the other end and headed off on port tack.
Betsy ALISON pulled up her game on the second upwind leg and overtook both Danish girls to pull into the lead. The breeze had shifted a little right and she took advantage of the starboard lift. But by the mark, Dorte had regained the lead, Betsy splitting the two Danish boats.
The shifty leg had tightened the fleet a little, piling pressure onto the leaders, and some deft tactical choices enabled Betsy Alison to pull into the lead once again. A lead she held up the entire beat. Eventual Championship winner Hannah SWETT rounded the final leeward mark fifth.
Going offshore paid on the final run and it was Betsy ALISON who took the gun in the final race of the championship. Dorte JENSEN (DEN) secured the Bronze medal with a second place, 45 seconds later, whilst in a dying breeze, Hannah SWETT gained a place down the run to finish fourth and become World Champion.
Hannah SWETT and Ulrike SCHUEMANN go for the pool!
The Yngling World Championship Medal Ceremony was a formal affair, until having been presented with the medals, the sailors kept to tradition to throw the new World Champions in the pool. However, revenge was swift as Ulle (Ulrike), the helm of the Bronze Medal boat, followed Hannah into the pool!
Windsurfer Men - Mistral
With one race to spare Polish Przemek MIARCZYNSKI(POL) won the men´s windsurfing World Championship for the Mistral. With an amazing scoreline of 8 first places out of 10!
|Przemek MIARCZYNSKI (POL)
© Aline Siepmann
Showing great consistency all through the race, the Levante winds favored the strong wind specialist and pushed him all the way to the top. Although on the last day the Levante weakened considerably, Pont dug deep to register a sixth place sewing up the Gold medal. Cheers were heard from the Polish coach boat, and past World Champion, Nikos KALMANAKIS (GRE) was the first to congratulate "Pont", with both of them falling in the water.
Tomorrow's battle for the Silver and Bronze medals in the men's fleet will be exciting. in the men´s fleet. It is looking good for Nikolas KAKLAMANAKIS (GRE), who is currently in second position overall, but only two points ahead of Gal FRIDMAN (ISR) and Joao RODRIGUES (POR) who are on on equal points and only 4 points ahead of Jon-Paul Tobin (NZL).
Giving a victory speech at the post-race press conference, Pont gave a great summary of this week's racing, saying that this is the one of the greatest moments of his life. Throughout, he could hardly contain the smiles between himself and girlfriend Kaska.
He firstly thanked, his coach Pawel Kowolski, and a string of friends. However, most of all he wanted to thank all of the competitors for their fair play during the championships.
"I had some great duels with John Paul TOBIN (NZL) and Joao RODRIGUES (POR), and was very lucky to have the conditions suit my style of sailing. I am especially happy that it was gusty and shifty."
When responding on how it feels to be at the top, he commented, "It feels as though it is an accident." Despite being in the world's top 10, Pont has only ever won one event, being Kiel Week in 2002. Commenting on this, he said, "These conditions are exactly the same as Kiel."
On his preparations for the World Championship, Pont explained, "I paid attention to the technical details, especially the speed of the board. I was expecting sea breeze conditions and most of the competitors were training for this, but whilst I have been training here, where I train in Poland has very similar conditions as experienced for this Championship. That helped me win the event."
Pont's Gold Medal means he is now confirmed as Poland's representative to the 2004 Olympic Regatta, "I am happy to claim the Gold Medal, as this grants me selection for the 2004 Olympic Regatta. It is good to know this here, as early before the Games, so I can work hard for next year's events."
Speaking on the 2003 ISAF World Championship, "I think the most important thing is the conditions. It has been sunny and windy and I am happy about that. It is very difficult to organise an event like this. It is bigger than the Olympic Regatta. The Organising Committee did a great job to run this event so smoothly."
On his celebrations this evening, "It is not so easy, as my friends are still racing. I will wait until they finish." After that, "My plan is to stay in Cadiz and do the ISAF Windsurfing Presentation event to trial the proposals for 2008. The sailing season finishes in Poland soon, so I will then sail somewhere warmer."
Tomorrow's racing will see 15 further nations qualified for the 2004 Olympic Regatta.
Windsurfer Women - Mistral
Over on the women´s course Lee KORZITS (ISR) is still holding first position overall.
Barbara KENDALL has caught up to Lee, and sits only 6 points behind, having moved up to second as Allison SHREEVE (GER) lost ground in today's racing. Lai MINGSHUANG (CHN) is now in third position overall and will have to battle Faustine MERRET (FRA) tomorrow for the bronze medal.
Lee KORZITS (ISR), commented at the post race press conference on how she would approach tomorrow's final race, "Same thing as I have done every day - to try and win the race. To be strong. I just really want to win. This is the first time I have been in the top 5."
On her preferred conditions for tomorrow, "I like all conditions, it doesn't matter."
With only five events making up her world ranking, when questioned as to where she was gaining her experience and skill in the class, Lee advised, "I have been training with the defending world champion in the men's event, Gal FRIDMAN. He has taught me everything." The fact that Lee has only been competing in the Mistral for a year, makes her performance even more impressive.
Lee is guaranteed the Gold if she can place in the top 6 in tomorrow's final. If Lee wins, this will be the first time that a woman from Israel has ever won a World Championship. Her mentor Gal is also performing outstandingly in the men's event, placing third overall, and with every chance of the Silver of Bronze tomorrow if he puts in a good performance.
However, going into tomorrow's race, it is Barbara KENDALL (NZL), who Lee will have her eyes on.
In addition to the 10 nations qualified from the 2002 World Championships, a further 12 nations will qualify tomorrow.
Keelboat Men - Star
Repeating the earlier performances of Siren SUNBY (NOR) in the Europe fleet, and Prsemyslaw MIARCZYNSKI (POL) in the Mistral Men, Xavier ROHART and Pascal RAMBEAU (FRA) have also claimed the Gold with a race to spare.
In a day of uncharacteristic conditions here, for this week anyway, the fourth World Champion, and the third to win with a day to spare, was crowned in the Star Class. Victory went to Xavier ROHART and Pascal RAMBEAU (FRA).
|Freddy LOOF (left) crosses Xavier ROHART
© Event Media
Only one race was sailed and by the time the Star Class got out on the water the ever-decreasing Levante had been gradually replaced by a south westerly sea breeze. Completely different conditions and as a result the committee was only able to sail one race for the class.
An almost processional race ensued, and one that due to the state of the current, made the start the most tactically important part of the race and following that, a dominant current on the onshore side of the course, coupled with the lighter conditions, had the beat well one sided. If you were behind, it was very tough to catch up.
That was where Iain PERCY and Steve MITCHELL (GBR) found themselves and to their detriment had a bad race, finishing in 19 place on the water, their worst result in the championship so far. Fredrik LOOF and Anders ELKSTROM had a good race in the conditions and led the fleet home in front of the always consistent Rohart and Rambeau (FRA).
As a direct result of that second place finish, Percy's 19 and the fact that the Star fleet will only sail one more race in their series, Rohart and Rambeau's impressively consistent score-line of three first place finishes, three seconds, a third, fourth and fifth, gives the French pair the World Championship title and the Gold Medal here in Cadiz.
As Torben GRAEL (BRA) explained on coming off the water, "The same thing has happened here as happened to us in Long Beach last year. We had racing that would have won us any other championship. But Iain [Percy], had better."
He is referring of course to the close and competitive nature of the Star Class that demands supreme consistency, a little bit of your own luck, and blistering hard work to win a world title. That consistency is something that Rohart has been working on, interestingly with his training partners Iain PERCY and Max TREACY (IRL). "The most important thing we worked on here was consistency, and always being top five or top three, and we actually did it"
Of their training system, which seems to be being emulated across the fleets in Olympic class sailing at the moment, Rohart noted."We've been such a good team, and it's really worked well here at this championship" all three of the boats finished in the top ten of the regatta, a credit to their training style.
Percy's four race wins and three seconds would undoubtedly given him a victory in any other regatta, but here all it has assured him of is at least a bronze medal. Ahead of Percy in second place at the moment is Star supreme Freddie LOOF, whose race win today put him in second place, two points ahead. A strange situation in that the guys in third place are assured of a medal, but the guys in second are not - yet.
This has arisen because gear failure yesterday put Loof out of race eight, so whatever he scores tomorrow he has to count, and Peter BROMBY and Martin SIESE (BER) in fourth, Mark NEELEMAN and Peter Van NIEKERK in fifth, and a host of others will be waiting to put the pressure on the him.
Rohart's victory here puts him in good stead for selection by the FFV for a slot representing France at the Olympic Games in Athens next year. He won't know until 15 November but is confident that a victory here gives him a good advantage. "I'm 99 per cent sure that I will be selected, but for now we intend to have a lot of time off and prepare for the winter season in Miami, and we hope to continue training with Iain along the same lines"
Following the final race tomorrow, the overall positions will be decided as well as the medal positions. We will also know who, subject to ISAF ratification, will be the seven previously unqualified nations who will join Bermuda, Brazil, France, Great Britain, USA and Greece on the start line of the first race in Athens 2004.
Single-handed Dinghy Open - Laser
The sailors left shore in another land breeze of 12 knots. For the second race the breeze dropped and veered right over 90 degrees on the left side of the course causing the green fleet's second race to be abandoned.
The Yellow fleet finished the last leg of their second race as the breeze swung on the last leg. The second races for the Red and Blue fleets were shortened before the unstable wind affected their race. The Green fleet were held on the water for 2 hours and were rewarded with an eleven knot breeze which held just long enough for them to complete a short race and which gave all fleets the opportunity to have the programmed lay day.
In today's racing Gustavo LIMA (POR) (Yellow) and Andrew MURDOCH (NZL) (Red) both had double victories in their respective fleets. In the first race Gustavo started towards the pin end of the line and sailed almost to the port layline to be equal leader at the first mark. On the second windward leg he rounded the bottom mark and sailed further to the right than the rest of the fleet, when they came together again he held a 30 second lead, a testament to the shifting breeze. From there he easily held his lead for a comfortable lead. In the second race Gustavo rounded the top mark in fifth position and had to work a lot harder to in the end scoring a narrow victory over Maciej GRABOWSKI POL.
Murdoch on the other hand had both his victories as leader all the way. Defending champion Robert SCHEIDT BRA was the only other sailor in the top ten who had consistent results with a first and a second in the blue fleet. The other race winner in his fleet was Maxim SEMERKHANOV (RUS).
In green fleet racing Marc de Haas NED beat Michael BLACKBURN (AUS), the second race was won by Robbie MCMILLAN (NZL).
After today's final qualification heats the fleet will be split into four groups for six races of gold fleet racing to commence on Monday 22 September. The championship remains wide open with only 27 points between the top twenty in the fleet.