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13 July 2007, 03:53 pm
Day 11: Golds For Britain, Netherlands And Australia
Stevie MORRISON and Ben RHODES lap up that winning feeling
Stevie MORRISON and Ben RHODES lap up that winning feeling

ISAF Sailing World Championships 2007
Cascais, Portugal

Stevie MORRISON and Ben RHODES (GBR) won gold in the 49er in the first of today's three Medal Races at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Cascais. In the Women's 470 Medal Race, Marcelien DE KONING and Lobke BERKHOUT (NED) won their third consecutive World Championship title, whilst Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE (AUS) cruised to victory in the Men's 470.
It was another bright and sunny day in Cascais, Portugal for the final day of racing at the ISAF Sailing World Championships. The forecast was for lighter winds than earlier in the week and that certainly proved to be the case with the 49ers starting just after 15:00 in a 6-8 knot northwesterly. As well as Medal Races in the 49er and 470s, it was also the last chance for the 76 nations in Cascais to gain one of the Olympic qualification places for Beijing.

A second gold and a fourth bronze medal on the final day means Great Britain retain the President of the IOC Cup, finishing top of the medal table in Cascais.

MORRISON and RHODES have been the standout 49er team in Cascais all week long and made no mistake in today's Medal Race. After a slight delay to the start, the race got underway in very light, but steady conditions. Going into the race MORRISON and RHODES held a solid lead and never looked in danger of giving it up.

Although the conditions were light, the more westerly direction provided a steadier breeze for today's 49er Medal Race. The conditions proved an unexpected bonus for the British leaders, allowing them to control their closest rivals, as MORRISON explained afterwards, 'We were expecting the wind off the land like we've had all week and then it's almost impossible to sail tactics because it's so shifty. When it actually came to it we had a lot steadier wind and then we felt we had a lot more opportunity to use the 11-point we had.'

The Brits' training partners, Nico DELLE - KARTH and Nikolaus LEOPOLD (AUT) held onto their silver medal position, whilst a poor race from the Italians let Nathan OUTTERIDGE and Ben AUSTIN (AUS) sneak onto the podium.

Triple World Champions

The wind had increased slightly by the time the Women's 470 Medal Race got underway. Like MORRISON and RHODES, fleet leaders DE KONING and BERKHOUT took an 11-point lead into the race. Second place Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadege DOUROUX (FRA) had to put six boats between themselves and the Dutch to win gold, but never had an opportunity to get close to the front.

Starting at the pin end Christina BASSADONE and Saskia CLARK (GBR) hooked into the first bit of pressure to move into an early lead. From their they extended around the course to win by a considerable distance, knocking the Japanese crew off the podium and winning Britain's sixth medal of the Championships.

In the battle for gold, DE KONING and BERKHOUT kept a tight cover on their French rivals right the way up the first beat dragging them down the fleet and effectively ending any title challenge. At one stage PETITJEAN and DOUROUX looked in danger of losing the silver medal to BASSADONE and CLARK, but they recovered on the final lap to cross the line in eighth and claim second overall.

After Lisa WESTERHOF and Margriet MATTHIJSSE beat them to the Dutch spot at the Athens Olympics, DE KONING and BERKHOUT took six months off from the sport.

The break seemed to be the perfect tonic for the Dutch team, as they returned to the 470 fleet stronger than ever midway through 2005. We saw how we did not want to do it so it gave us a lot of motivation for the next time,' says DE KONING.

They won at the 2005 Worlds in San Francisco, before demonstrating their ability in light winds by taking the World Championship title in Rizhao last year. All week long they have been a class apart in winning their third consecutive World title here in Cascais, but the team are not planning on stopping there. 'It's really nice to have the hat-trick right now, but definitely there's another goal and that's the Olympics,' explained BERKHOUT. With WESTERHOF making her return to the 470 fleet this year, it looks as if the treble World Champions have to prepare themselves for another battle to guarentee themselves a spot in Beijing.

Second Gold For Australia

The Aussies picked up their second medal of the day and second gold medal of the Championships in the Men's 470 Medal Race. Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE (AUS) had already done the hard work, going into the race with an 18-point lead. As long as they didn't finish last they were assured of the title and they duly delivered, crossing the line in third place.

Sven COSTER and Kalle COSTER (NED) kept their second place overall and took the silver medal, but it turned out to be a nightmare race for Alvaro MARINHO and Miguel NUNES (POR). The home favourites were relegated to last place after banging the corner to the left and getting to the top mark tenth, from which they never recovered. Gideon KLIGER amd Udi GAL (ISR) completed a remarkable comeback. Two days into the regatta they were lying outside the top 40 and at one point today they were back in ninth, but they caught a gust and sailed through the fleet to cross the line in fifth, just enough to squeeze the Portuguese off the podium and take the bronze medal.

It is the third World title in four years for the Aussie pair (and they lost the gold in China last year under controversial circumstances). After a disappointing performance in Athens three years ago, their performance in Cascais bodes well for their hopes of Olympic success this time round in Qingdao.

Following the medal ceremony for the Men's 470, the presentation of the President of the IOC Cup brought to an end the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships. Great Britain retained the Cup they won in 2003 after finishing top of the medal table with two golds and four bronze medals. Australia also had a great Championships with two golds and two bronzes putting them second in the medal table, whilst Brazil and Spain tie for third with two golds apiece.

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