After five days of racing and two days at the boat park because of bad weather, sailors and organizers can look back on a very well organized, challenging and successful event.
The top ten women crews were the first to line up for their Medal Race. With huge interest of spectators at the shore line of the city centre of Thessaloniki and TV crews on the water, the starting signal sent the sailors away at 16:20 for their final, decisive race.
Australia's Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON, who have shown a strong improvement during the event, took the lead to arrive at the top mark in first. Elisabetta SACCHEGGIANI and Elisa CECCONI (ITA), Ai KONDO and Naoko KAMATA (JPN) and Amanda CLARK and Sarah MERGHENTHALER (USA) followed them at the mark rounding and a battle downwind began. The Australian crew held first position until the downwind mark, but CLARK and MERGHENTHALER found greater on the next upwind to score the final bullet.
|Stefanie ROTHWEILER and Vivien
© Foto TPYWANHΣ
Directly after the women, it was the turn to the top ten crews in the men's fleet to line up at the start of their Medal Race. MARINHO and NUNES, who had been leading the event right from the first day, only had to fear Nicolas CHARBONNIER and Olivier BAUSSET (FRA), current leaders of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, as rivals for the gold medal. As in the women's fleet, the objective for overall ranked Frenchmen was to keep three boats between them and the athletes from Portugal.
Both gold challengers started close to pin end and made their way to the first upwind mark. The Portuguese were faster and met with the other Medal Race finalists at the upper mark, leaving the French about four boatlengths behind. In the heat of the game, the fleet leaders pay no attention to Carl EVANS and Peter BURLING (NZL), who only made two long beats and rounded the upper mark in the lead. They flew downwind with great speed but had a problem with their rudder and lost their first place. Australia's Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE took over the lead, directly followed by Pierre LEBOUCHER and Vincent GAROS (FRA) who still had a chance for silver.
CHARBONNIER and BAUSSET demonstrate some excellent sailing and fought their way back to the top. At the last top mark rounding they get into a gold-winning second position behind the Australians, while MARINHO and NUNES were behind in seventh place.
On the way to the finish the wind totally dropped and the turned around unexpectedly. The Australian leaders, who had managed to build a big lead on the rest of the fleet, saw their opponents closing in fast. Eventually they struggled into the finish with only two boats behind them. MARINHO and NUNES handled the situation perfectly to reconnect with the leaders, crossing in third, one place behind
CHARBONNIER and BAUSSET, whilst Gideon KLIGER and Udi GAL (ISR) took the bullet. Gabrio ZANDONA and Andrea TRANI (ITA) could only place ninth in the Medal Race, but that was still enough for them to take the bronze medal.
The silver and bronze fleets, as well as the remaining #11 to #31 ranked Gold fleet sailors had their final race on Sunday. The closing ceremony took place at 21:00 local time.
CLICK HERE to watch a capture of the live stream of the men's Medal Race.
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