In a powerful set of race results on the penultimate day of racing, the 2013 470 Junior World Champions, Jordi Xammar/Joan Herp (ESP) and Maëlenn Lemaitre/Aloïse Retornaz (FRA), claimed 2014 victories.
All change in the weather at the 2014 470 Junior World Championships on the day to decide the Medal Race line up. From the 24 knot Sirocco wind of the day prior, racing got underway soon after 15:00 in an 8 knot shifty breeze with little rhythm in it, making it very hard to predict the shifts.
For the world class sailors at the front of the fleet, they know this game well and whatever the conditions during this Championship have made their way to the front. Although a nearby storm made the shifts even harder to read in race 11.
Thursday's Medal Races kick off at 14:00 for the 470 Women, followed by the Men/Mixed at 15:00. The 470 men/mixed line up will see 8 nations in the mix, and 7 nations in the women.
Jordi Xammar/Joan Herp (ESP) had a 19 point lead going into the day, so knew there was every possibility of wrapping up the World Championship title. Their nearest rivals Guillaume Pirouelle/Valentin Sipan (FRA) in second place were realistically the only team who had any hope of putting a stop to the Spaniards retaining their title.
But as it turned out the French had no hope, as Xammar/Herp swept around the race track in a show of complete superiority, to win the day's two races and the gold medal. They win gold counting an all top 5 scoreline and 5 race wins.
"I think it is an amazing. We have spent months preparing for and dreaming about this,"
commented Xammar. "It has been a really hard Championship which is not really reflected in the results. But for us it has been really difficult to win it. It was our perfect Championship and it is unbelievable to celebrate a fifth world title. We have worked really hard for it."
The 2014 470 Men/Mixed Junior World Championship titles marks Xammar's fifth World Championship title, four of which have been achieved with Herp. Two 470 Junior World titles, two ISAF Youth World titles and one 420 Junior World title - impressive. It is not often a team wins back to back World titles, and such an achievement is inevitably just a taste of more successes ahead.
Xammar wasn't expecting a win, as it is hard to defend a World Championship due to expectations and pressure from the other competitors. "It is difficult to sail with this pressure, "
continued Xammar. "We try to imagine what it is like for Mat Belcher with 17 wins in a row."
"The starts of 46 boats means a lot of pressure on the start. 46 boats trying to get a good start and it is not easy. And you mustn't take risks. There is a really high level in the fleet and it was very difficult to pass boats. I love the 470,"
said Herp. "The best sailors sail this class. It is physical, tactical and technical. It is our perfect boat."
The pair have Rio 2016 in their sights, but first stop the 2014 ISAF Worlds in Santander where they hope to be the Spanish team to qualify Spain to the 2016 Olympics.
Guillaume Pirouelle/Valentin Sipan (FRA) sit in second overall on the leader board and bar disaster on the race track look assured of silver. Only a penalty score, combined with a race win to third placed Malte Winkel/Matti Cipra (GER) would swap the teams' positions and give the Germans the silver medal.
German teammates Simon Diesch/Patrick Aggeler made a massive climb up the leader board from ninth to fourth and lay down a distant challenge to Winkel/ Cipra (GER) for the bronze. Upsets happen, and it would take another long shot for this to be achieved, but if Diesch/Aggeler win the Medal Race and Winkel/Cipra take a penalty score, the exchange in positions would happen. Cipra won the Junior Worlds silver medal last year with helm Julien Autenrieth.
From 5th place onwards, it will be a battle for leader board positioning as no teams can challenge for the podium.
The warning signal for the 470 Men Medal race is scheduled for 15:00. Racing will be streamed live from Cervia. Click here
470 Men/Mixed - Top 10 Overall
1. Jordi Xammar/Joan Herp (ESP 44) - 18 pts
2. Guillaume Pirouelle/Valentin Sipan (FRA 76) - 53 pts
3. Malte Winkel/Matti Cipra (GER 13) - 72 pts
4. Simon Diesch/Patrick Aggeler (GER 11) - 90 pts
5. Matteo Pilati/Francesco Rubagotti (ITA 27) - 104 pts
6. Fabrice Rigot/Guillaume Rigot (SUI 2) - 105 pts
7. Balder Tobiasen/Magnus Jung Johansen (DEN-164) - 110 pts
8. Giacomo Ferrari/Giulio Calabro (ITA 757) - 119 pts
9. Agustin Romero/Fermin Jacobs (ARG-9) - 130 pts
10. Kristian Chekh/Maxim Cherenkov (RUS-10) - 131 pts
In a repeat of the feat they achieved at the 2013 470 Junior World Championships, a delighted Maëlenn Lemaitre/Aloïse Retornaz (FRA) assured themselves of gold with a day to spare. Race results of 1,3, on the penultimate day secured their massive 32 point margin over Jess Lavery/Megan Brickwood (GBR) to make their hold on gold unassailable.
The French came here to win, and have won 7 of the 11 races so far. The week has been a tough physical and mental competition, with the variety of breeze and sea state rewarding the best sailors across all conditions.
The team started the day with a 21 point margin over the British, but with one UFD already in their scoreline, couldn't afford to make any mistakes.
"We needed to save our points, because we have the UDF,"
explained Retornaz. "We had to be careful on the start and not too early. Otherwise, we just sailed normally and kept an eye on the British. But we didn't change anything in our sailing, we just wanted to stay in control and make no mistakes. We didn't know what could happen today, and it was difficult, so we tried to stay in the middle of the boats for safety."
"For the moment I feel normal as it is not finished yet. We will wait until tomorrow to celebrate,"
said Lemaitre. "We want to win the medal race,"
added Retornaz, "but we don't want to get involved in the fight for the bronze medal."
Silver medallists Jess Lavery/Megan Brickwood had their worst pair of results of the series, as they struggled to find their lane particularly in race 11. Brickwood said, "It was not intentional. We were aiming to be in the top 10 for every race. Because we have been so consistent from the start, we knew our discard going into the race was a 10th. So we knew anything worse was not going to be so bad or affect us too much."
"Race 11 was horrible. We got pinned on the wrong side of each shift and found ourselves just chasing the shifts and couldn't get on the right, which destroyed it for us. "
The pair were totally thrilled. "I just can't quite believe it,"
said Lavery. "Me neither,"
"We have trained all winter,"
said Brickwood. "It has all paid off."
The bronze medal is theoretically attainable by any of the seven teams currently in 3 to 9 on the leaderboard, as just 12 points separate them. So nerves of steel will be needed to come out on top in the 25 minute windward/leeward Medal Race.
Israel fields three teams in the top 10, all three of which have the possibility to climb onto the podium with bronze.
470 Women - Top 10 Overall
1. Maelenn Lemaitre/Aloise Retornaz (FRA 39) - 18 pts
2. Jess Lavery/Megan Brickwood (GBR 838) - 50 pts
3. Noya Bar-Am/Rimon Shoshan (ISR-11) - 72 pts
4. Maria Bozi/Anna Passa (GRE-13) - 78 pts
5. Benedetta di Salle/Alessandra Dubbini (ITA-74) - 79 pts
6. Greta Markfort/Anna Markfort (GER-26) - 81 pts
7. Tsuf Zamet/Saar Tamir (ISR-77) - 82 pts
8. Fabienne Oster/Alexandra Lauber (GER 95) - 82 pts
9. Yahel Wallach/Stav Brokman (ISR 12) - 84 pts
10. Anna Kyselova/Anastasiya Krasko (UKR) - 95 pts