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24 May 2008, 09:32 pm
Australia And Netherlands Dominate First Medal Races In Medemblik
The Dutch Yngling girls celebrate victory
Victory is sweet for the Dutch Yngling team

Delta Lloyd Regatta 2008
Medemblik, The Netherlands

Australia and the Netherlands dominated the first two Medal Races at the ISAF Grade 1 Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik.
The competition heated up on the fourth day of the Delta Lloyd Regatta, with Medal Races in the Men's 470 and Yngling fleets and the penultimate races for the competitors in the remaining Olympic events. The eastern breeze was a bit stronger and the water was still choppy. Match racing, OCS scores and different conditions brought some changes in ranking and leaders. Going into the remaining Medal Races tomorrow, the pressure is full on for the top ten ranked teams. The rest of the fleets will also do one more race. According to the weather forecast, the wind will pick up to force 5.

A crowd of spectator boats gathered on the IJsselmeer to watch the first two of the final Medal Race battles on Saturday. The evening sun was bright, the onshore wind about eight knots and the water was choppy. The Australian 470 sailors Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE took the very last bullet in their class and therefore won the only missing Grade 1 event in their long list of victories. The three Dutch Ynglings on the national team claimed the top three finishes. Renee GROENEVELD, Brechtje VAN DER WERF and Marije KAMPEN won the overall series.

Dutch Girls Rule The Yngling Medal Race

"The heat is on", said Maurice PAARDENKOOPER, coach of the Dutch national team. He referred to the protest within his three boat campaign in today's first race. The three crew members for Beijing have not been selected yet. PAARDENKOOPER: "It is the first time they are protesting each other, but I think this is good. They want to win and that is the spirit."

Mandy MULDER, Marije FABER and Merel WITTEVEEN (NED II) did not give GROENEVELD, VAN DER WERF and KAMPEN (NED 1) enough water at the top mark and got disqualified. But all three Dutch squad Ynglings and Annelies THIES, Elisabeth WIERENGA and Caroline HEEREMA (NED) lined up for the Medal Race. The German trio Ulrike SCHUEMANN, Julia BLECK and Ute HOEPFNER were the first ranked team to enter the final battle, with a five-point lead on GROENEVELD, VAN DER WERF and KAMPEN. It turned out to be an exciting fight to watch with dominating Dutch colours.

All three Dutch national teams, the Germans and the Russians went to the left. The rest of the fleet sailed to the right corner. MULDER, FABER and WITTEVEEN (NED II) tacked first, but did not go all the way to the left. The Germans did and lost out on the runners up of the overall ranking. The NED II was first at the upwind mark, followed by Marjon KOOISTRA, Annemieke BES and Kim PLATTEEUW (NED III) and the Russians. Team GROENEVELD (NED I) was fourth and the Germans seventh. On the run, the NED III, NED I and the Germans went hard to the right, whereas Team Mulder (NED II) tried its luck in the middle of the course. KOOISTRA and her crew took over the lead and extended it throughout the race. They rounded the left-handed gate mark, followed by the NED II, side by side with the NED I that picked the right-handed gate mark. They had the Germans on their stern. Once again, it paid to go to the right side in the beat, as proven by the NED III and II. The Germans and the NED I initially went to the left. The Germans tacked first and again for Team THIES and lost expensive metres, whereas GROENEVELD, VAN DER WERF and KAMPEN remained in third position. Spectators on the water started to cheer, as they saw the national team taking up the first three spots. KOOISTRA, BES and PLATTEEUW took the bullet, followed by MULDER, FABER and WITTEVEEN and the overall winners (by one point) GROENEVELD, VAN DER WERF and KAMPEN.

Coach PAARDENKOOPER looked very relieved after a difficult week with lots of disqualifications and OCS scores: "This is what we are working for, to beat world's best competitors."

Marije KAMPEN added, "It is fantastic to win the last event before the Games." On KOOISTRA's boat, Kim PLATTEEUW, a recent replacement for Floortje HENDRIKSEN, was delighted with her performance at her first ISAF Grade 1 regatta. "My first Medal Race ever, so it is great to win that one," she explained. SCHUEMANN, BLECK and HOEPFNER won silver and the British World Champions Sarah AYTON and Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON took the bronze.

Aussies Control 470 Men Medal Race

Going into the Men's 470 Medal Race, three-time Australian World Champions (2004, 2005 and 2007) WILMOT and PAGE had a three-point lead on the Italians Gabrio ZANDONA and Andrea TRANI. After the starting gun, only three boats went directly to the right corner. The Aussies sailed on starboard tack and were first to change course to the right. The Argentinean duo CONTE and DE LA FUENTE led at the top mark, followed by the Italians and the Australians. The Frenchmen Nicolas CHARBONNIER and Olivier BAUSSET, who entered the Medal Race in third position, were fifth to hoist the spinnaker. Only the Argentineans, Italians, French and the Dutch COSTER brothers chose the left side of the downwind and lost their lead on the Aussies, who were flying. They extended their lead and won the Delta Lloyd Regatta 2008. Italy finished third and France seventh, so the podium positions remained unchanged.

WILMOT commented, "The first lap dictated who would be where in which position. We had a better downwind and from there we played a controlling game."

While walking to the prizegiving area, people cheered for the Australians. The leaders of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings were pleased: "Following the Olympics, we will retire after 11 years of 470 sailing. We won all Grade 1 events and this one was still missing. And the Olympic gold medal."

Competition Heats Up In Remaining Fleets

Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) and Gintare VOLUNGEVICIUTE (SLO) turned up heat in the final battle for the gold position in the Laser Radial fleet. TUNNICLIFFE explained, "Going into the last race, I only had a five points lead on her." Her goal was to increase it by one point: "So, I match raced Gintare before the start. We both had a bad start on port at the pin end and went behind the entire fleet. I covered her out to the right corner, but the wind shifted to the right and we were back in the top ten."

The American #1 on the ISAF World Sailing Rankings finished third and VOLUNGEVICIUTE ninth, which resulted in a gap of exactly six points. Besides from extending her lead, TUNNICLIFFE also enjoyed today's stronger conditions: "Finally, I had to hike and I could surf downwind," she said. VOLUNGEVICIUTE was also happy about the competition so far: "The races were long, but it was a good training. Maybe Anna was a bit stronger today, but I liked it."

Since the end of 2007, the Brazilians Fernanda OLIVEIRA and Isabel SWAN teamed up with the Italians Giulia CONTI and Giovanna MICOL as sparring partners. Now they are both on gold course in the Women's 470 fleet at Medemblik. The Brazilian girls had the best score of the day with a series of 1,4,2 and closed the gap by two points. OLIVEIRA explained. "We were very fast, had good starts and picked up more pressure on the right side every time. We did better than expected."

The Italian leaders finished 2,7,6. CONTI said, "We were in third position in race 3, as we jibed below the lay line. Some boats gibed inside and passed us. We dropped to a seventh place. But anyway, we are still in the front and it has been a good training. It is nice to see that all the work we did with Fernanda and Isabel pays off. We will see how it goes tomorrow and we are friends anyway."

Stars Over Early

The second start of the Star fleet saw many boars called OCS, six to be specific. The 2007 Star World Champions Robert SCHEIDT and Bruno PRADA (BRA) were among them and dropped to a fifth place overall. The Swiss leaders Flavio MARAZZI and Enrico DE MARIA hold on to their first position, followed by the current World Champions Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ and Dominik ZYCKI (POL) and Fredrik LOOF and Anders EKSTROM from Sweden.

The top of the leaderboard in the 49er class changed again. Britain's Stevie MORRISON and Ben RHODES performed strongly with a series of 14,2,2 and climbed to the gold medal position, followed by yesterday's leaders Federico ALONSO and Arturo ALONSO (ESP) and the leaders of the second day Pietro SIBELLO and Gianfranco SIBELLO (ITA). The spread between the first and third position is 12 points. It was also a good day for Spain, as two Spanish teams made it into the top four. The Olympic Champions Iker MARTINEZ and Xavi FERNANDEZ (ESP) re fourth overall.

The Women's RS:X European Champion Marina ALABAU (ESP) extended her overall lead with six points by taking both bullets today. In the men's fleet it was Dutchman Dorian VAN RIJSSELBERGE who closed the gap on Julien BONTEMPS (FRA). He won both races and is now four points behind.

Going into the Medal Race tomorrow, Laser sailor Tom SLINGSBY (AUS) has a comfortable lead of 11 points on Vasilij ZBOGAR (SLO). His fellow countryman Gasper VINCEC (SLO) lost ground to Ed WRIGHT (GBR) and Rafa TRUJILLO (ESP), who both scored a first and third in the Finn class. WRIGHT is only one point behind, with TRUJILLO following on one point as well. Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY (AUS) are still in the lead of 22 Tornados.

Besides from title sponsor Delta Lloyd, the regatta 2008 is also sponsored by Volvo Cars Netherlands, Infotec, Provincie Noord-Holland, AD Sportwereld Pro, Heuvelman Sound & Vision, WeerOnline, Spa mineral water and ARMA Verhuur.

Delta Lloyd Regatta -
Diana Bogaards
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