Three medals were secured with a day to spare at the 470 Junior World Championships in advance of the final day so the Medal Race was all about who would claim bronze in the Women and Silver and Bronze medals in the Men/Mixed events.
Despite closely fought racing and a few close shaves, the same teams holding the podium places going into the medal race retained them to safely secure their medals. In the 470 Women, complimenting the gold medal won by Maëlenn Lemaitre/Aloïse Retornaz (FRA) and silver medal by Jess Lavery/Megan Brickwood (GBR), Noya Bar-Am/Rimon Shoshan (ISR) finished the medal race in second place and clinched bronze.
In the 470 Men/Mixed event, Guillaume Pirouelle/Valentin Sipan (FRA) and Malte Winkel/Matti Cipra (GER) claimed the silver and bronze medals, after Jordi Xammar/Joan Herp (ESP) wrapped up gold on the penultimate day.
2014 470 Junior World Champions Jordi Xammar/Joan Herp (ESP) raced to a second place in the's Medal Race, as a final show of superiority around the race course.
But the medal deciding action was happening behind the Spanish in the final challenge for podium places. The silver and bronze medals were virtually in the bag for Guillaume Pirouelle/Valentin Sipan (FRA) and Malte Winkel/Matti Cipra (GER). Only a disaster on the race track could unseat them. The only outcome that would oust the French away from the silver medal would be if they took a penalty score and Malte Winkel/Matti Cipra (GER) won the race.
"We just paid attention to be under the line at the start, because if we had an OCS the Germans had to finish first,"
"We are really happy,"
said Pirouelle. "We expected a podium here and of course we would like to be 1st, but second place is very good.
"We train a lot with the French team, Sofian and Jeremie and Camille and Helene, so we are a big family. All the French coaches are always saying that we are very lucky in France to have a lot of boats and I think this makes a big difference for us."
The silver medal is a significant step up from their sixth place finish at the 2013 470 Junior World Championships.
Next stop for this pair is the 470 Europeans in Athens, where they make the step up to senior fleet racing, along with many other teams from the Junior Worlds including Xammar/Herp and bronze medallists Malte Winkel/Matti Cipra (GER).
Sipan commented, "I am very happy because we worked very hard this winter with several camps and we trained a lot, so it is recompense. I think this is the beginning of something bigger for us."
Similar to the French, Germany's Malte Winkel/Matti Cipra were virtually assured of the bronze medal and the only challenge ahead of them was if team mates Simon Diesch/Patrick Aggeler won the Medal Race and they finished last - a highly unlikely scenario. But take your eye off the race track for a moment and leaderboards change swiftly, which very almost happened.
Diesch/Aggeler accelerated off the start line on a mission and were soon leading the fleet, with a shocked Winkel/Cipra in last place. Fortunately Winkel/Cipra they gained one place and secured the bronze.
Last year, Winkel was forced out of the 470 Junior Worlds due to a leg injury and Cipra partnered up with Julian Autenrieth finishing in silver medal position.
"We have been sailing together for one and a half years, but Malte's injury has meant we have only raced for some of that time,"
explained Cipra. "We trained a lot for this Championship, so it is really nice for us."
"I am really happy about our result,"
said Winkel, "and the conditions weren't easy here. With Matti already winning silver, I knew I had to come back good."
470 Men/Mixed - Final Leaderboard Top 10
1. Jordi Xammar/Joan Herp (ESP 44) - 22 pts
2. Guillaume Pirouelle/Valentin Sipan (FRA 76) - 61 pts
3. Malte Winkel/Matti Cipra (GER 13) - 86 pts
4. Simon Diesch/Patrick Aggeler (GER 11) - 92 pts
5. Fabrice Rigot/Guillaume Rigot (SUI 2) - 111 pts
6. Matteo Pilati/Francesco Rubagotti (ITA 27) - 122 pts
7. Balder Tobiasen/Magnus Jung Johansen (DEN-164) - 132 pts
8. Giacomo Ferrari/Giulio Calabro (ITA 757) - 135 pts
9. Agustin Romero/Fermin Jacobs (ARG-9) - 140 pts
10. Kristian Chekh/Maxim Cherenkov (RUS-10) - 143 pts
Crowned Champions with a day to spare, the French partnership of Maëlenn Lemaitre/Aloïse Retornaz (FRA) had nothing to prove today. But that is not their approach and there was still a medal race to win.
The 10 boat 470 Women medal race kicked off first at 1405 in a 10-12 knot breeze. The pair didn't have the best of starts, but with pumping allowed they pushed the boat to the limit and were up into 5th place by the first windward mark. They continued to gain downwind and at the gate made the choice to head off back upwind on the left side of the track, where the pressure was. By the next windward round they had they lead and simply strolled onto the finish.
"It is very beautiful and good as it the second time we have finished first. And then today we win the medal race, so it is a very good end,"
said Retornaz. "It was really difficult, because we were on the wrong side at the start and we didn't have good speed. It was very physical because we could pump, so we pumped a lot and did our tactics well."
"It is great. There is a lot of feeling and emotion for us. It was great at the end with the parade into the harbour and champagne,"
Jess Lavery/Megan Brickwood (GBR) assured themselves of silver yesterday, but were also keen to win the medal race, ultimately finishing in 7th place.
So, with the gold and silver already secure, the battle for bronze was intense. Any one of 7 teams were in with a chance and in the double-points medal race, the scores soon stack up. The pressure was full on for Noya Bar-Am/Rimon Shoshan (ISR) who were 3rd going into the medal race, holding a 6 point advantage over 4th placed Maria Bozi/Anna Passa (GRE). The pair left nothing to chance, taking an impeccable start, to hold the lead by the windward mark.
But Lemaitre/Retornaz reeled them in on the downwind leg, and by the gate were just behind. Back upwind and the lead transferred to the French, with the Israelis holding on finish the Medal Race in second and secure bronze.
Noya Bar-Am/Rimon Shoshan are the first Israeil women's team to stand on the podium since Gil Cohen/Dana Mamreiv secured silver at the 2009 470 Junior World Championships.
Bar-Am said, "This was our target and expectation. This was what we wanted. This is another step on the way and now we our going to focus on our next target which is the 470 Junior Europeans and to qualify Israel to the 2016 Olympics in Santander."
With just 10 nation qualification places awarded in Santander, and most of the world's top 470 sailors competing will make the competition immense.
With all the pressure on them in the medal race and facing their first ever medal race together, it was important to stay calm as Shoshan explained. "In the morning we kind of talked and discussed some things to calm us down. We came to the race chilled and we know we are not some suckers who don't know how to manage the race. We know our sailing is good when we are calm. We just flowed in the race and tried to enjoy it, ignore the pressure and that was it."
Team mates Yahel Wallach/Stav Brokman finished in 5th overall and Tsuf Zamet/Saar Tamir in 6th - to end the Championship as top performing nation.
Former 470 sailor and Olympian, Eran Sela (ISR) and now coach of the 470 squad is the man responsible to grow the 470 Class talent in Israel. "After I stopped sailing, my objective was to improve and develop this class in Israel,"
said Sela. "Because after the 2012 Olympic Games all the senior fleet retired and a new generation was coming through, I felt it was my duty to work with the sailors. Now there are some very good men's teams the three 470 women's teams who are really good."
470 Women - Final Leaderboard Top 10
1. Maelenn Lemaitre/Aloise Retornaz (FRA 39) - 20 pts
2. Jess Lavery/Megan Brickwood (GBR 838) - 64 pts
3. Noya Bar-Am/Rimon Shoshan (ISR-11) - 76 pts
4. Maria Bozi/Anna Passa (GRE-13) - 90 pts
5. Yahel Wallach/Stav Brokman (ISR 12) - 92 pts
6. Tsuf Zamet/Saar Tamir (ISR-77) - 92 pts
7. Greta Markfort/Anna Markfort (GER-26) - 97 pts
8. Benedetta di Salle/Alessandra Dubbini (ITA-74) - 97 pts
9. Anna Kyselova/Anastasiya Krasko (UKR) - 101 pts
10. Fabienne Oster/Alexandra Lauber (GER 95) - 102 pts