Simon Cooke and Peter Nicholas (NZL) broke through the fleet to improve their overnight Bronze Medal Position to secure Gold with a fourth place finish today.
It's 10 hours time difference between Italy and New Zealand but the Cooke household was woken to the news that Simon Cooke and Peter Nicholas had broken through to win the 2002 International 470 Class Men's World Championships early this afternoon here in Cagliari, Sardinia and qualified New Zealand for the 2004 Olympic Regatta.
'When we woke up and saw it would be good wind we were fired up' Peter said, veteran of the class, Nicholas at 33 combined with Cooke to win the European Championships also in Italy at Lake Garda in 2000. But training for the Kiwi's has been difficult lately with Peter running his construction company in Scotland and Simon involved with the Oracle-BMW team in Auckland.
With only 2 regatta's under their belt this year the two were clearly among the best in the fresher conditions.
The pair are currently ranked 63rd in the world, but this is due to lack of recent participation in many ISAF Graded events, as only nine months ago they were ranked 13th in the world.
Overnight leaders Martinez Gustavo & Cantero Tunte (ESP) made an early and almost unforgivable mistake, crossing behind Kosmatopoulos & Trigonis (GRE) but failing to cover the side that all their competition would eventually find. The course side that the Kiwi's, Greeks and Portugese now held got the assistance of probably the only left hand shift of the week, leaving the Spanish with no options at all and dropping them to 3rd overall in this World Championship.
Early regatta leaders Wilmot & Page (AUS) were close to Forester & Burnham (USA) at the start but in a boat on boat situation the Aussie's ventured across the line early and fell 2 places in the final washup to be 5th and the USA suffered their second 30th of the regatta to be 6th overall.
As promised, the new Greek Women's World Champions watched the final men's race from the coach boat, probably innocent to the fact that late last night a protest was lodged and then withdrawn regarding their start in yesterday's race.
Now the huge logistic exercise begins to return the one hundred and seventy 470's and 340 sailors back to their 31 nations. Subject to ratification by ISAF, the following 10 Nations have qualified in the men's event for the 2004 Olympic Regatta - New Zealand, Spain, Israel, Australia, USA, Portugal, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and Argentina - and the following 6 Nations have qualified in the women's event - Netherlands, France, Russia, Germany, Spain and Israel. The host country of the Olympic Games, being Greece, automatically receives an entry.
Interestingly, for Sandra Azon (ESP) crewing Natalia via Dufresne in the 470 , this is the second Olympic Qualification Regatta in which she has participated and helped to secure an Olympic berth for her country. Only a few weeks ago in July, sailing with her sister Monica as helm and Laia Tutzo, she won the Yngling World Championships to qualify Spain for a berth in the women's keelboat event at the 2004 Olympic Regatta.
It can be argued that this regatta has provided some of the best on-water conditions seen at a World Championships for some years. Cagliari and Sardinia has opened it's arms to the Nations of the 470 Fleet and they will not forget their time in Italy's south.
Cook and Nicholas as well as Bekatorou and Tsoulfa will receive Gold from International 470 Class President Heinz Staudt at 16.30hrs local time and 02.30 Auckland time.
In 2003, the 40th Anniversary year of Andre Cornu's double handed dinghy, the 470 fleet will meet in Cadiz, Spain and form part of the ISAF Combined World Championships for the 2004 Olympic Events, which will be the next Olympic Qualification Regatta for the class and the 2003 qualification regatta for all other Olympic sailing events.
Top 10 Overall results, after 14 races and 2 discards
1. Simon Cooke/Peter Nicholas (NZL) - 60,0
2. Andreas Kosmatopoulos/Konstantinos Trigonis (GRE) - 65,0
3. Gustavo Martinez/Tunte Cantero (ESP) - 69,0
4. Gideon Kliger/Udi Gal (ISR) - 72,0
5. Nathan Wilmot/Malcom Page (AUS) - 82,0
6. Paul Forester/Kevin Burnham (USA) - 86,0
7. Alvaro Marinho/Miguel Nunes (POR) - 90,0
8. Nick Rogers/Joe Glanfield (GBR) - 104,0
9. Yogev Yosef/Shahaf Amir (ISR) - 105,0
10. Gabrio Zandonà/Andrea Trani (ITA) - 107,0