There were a bucket load of medals decided at the Championship today on the Final Day of the Finns and the Penultimate Day for the rest of the fleet.
Single-handed Dinghy Men - Finn
With three possible World Championship winners going into today's final race in the 2003 Finn Gold Cup, competitors were made even more nervous by being held on shore until 1300 hours and then having to wait on the water until 1500 before there was a steady enough wind to be able to start. Sailing a brilliant race, Alejandro Colla (ARG), competing in his first Gold Cup led the fleet at the first mark and went on to win in fine style. The drama that was being played out behind him was the stuff of legends.
After one general recall the fleet finally got underway at 1535, just 25 minutes short of the time limit. The wind was at 6-7 knots and patchy in places with a fairly flat sea. The race initially followed a similar pattern to previous days with Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ (POL) starting at the committee boat and tacking off to the right. He was followed by Andrew SIMPSON (GBR) and Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN). Mateusz tacked back towards the left after a while, which saw him round the windward mark in 10th. Both Andrew and Jonas were well down.
Further down the line, regatta leader Ben AINSLIE (GBR) got buried out of the start and had difficulty finding clear lanes. His main rival for the title, Rafael TRUJILLO (ESP) did find the right shifts to round the top mark 6th. However the man who could do no wrong was Alejandro COLLA (ARG), who emerged from the middle right with a substantial lead.
He was followed by Kevin HALL (USA), Guillaume FLORENT (FRA), Emil TOMASEVIC (CRO), Marin MISURA (CRO) - who was again OCS - and Rafael, accompanied by the now standard cheering from the local crowd. Ainslie rounded in 23, accompanied by shocked silence from the British supporters. Surely even Ben couldn't recover from that position?.
The first downwind was the key leg of the race. Ben tells his side of the story. 'There was no one on the left of the course. I saw Rafa doing well down there and I really needed to catch up. So I went left and fortunately it worked well and I picked up a lot of ground.'
In fact he took over ten places on that leg alone. There was now very much a race on.
By the next windward mark, Alejandro had extended his lead and Rafael had moved up to second place. Anthony NOSSITER (AUS ) and Martijn VAN MUYDEN (NED) were up in third and fourth, while Ainslie had taken more places to move into seventh.
The right was generally paying on the beat and at the end of the next downwind, during which Ainslie had inevitably moved up to fifth, Alejandro led a group to the right, while Ainslie led another group round the right hand mark to the left of the course. Ben emerged round the top mark just behind Rafael and after three offwind legs, with the positions unchanged, he had retained the title he had won in Athens last year.
Alejandro won his first Finn Gold Cup race after much promise at the start of the regatta. He said afterwards, 'I dedicate this win to my mother, who died a year and a half ago. My boat is named Mami in honour of her. This win will give me the incentive I need to improve and come back to La Rochelle to qualify Argentina for the 2004 Olympics.'
Second in the race and the Silver medal winner, Rafael, was pleased the regatta came down to the last race. He said, 'I am very pleased because normally the winners have all been decided before the last race, and there has always been a clear winner, so this year was good because we didn't know until the very end. I am glad about that. It made for a good competition.'
The Finn Medallists © Event Media
Third in the race and Gold Cup winner, Ben AINSLIE concurred, 'The last race was very exciting for spectators. There was a lot going on. It has been very hard because both Rafa and Bart (Andrew) have been sailing very well. I was a bit worried after the first mark, and it was really tough to get back into the race. I am very pleased.'
Behind Ainslie in third were Martijn VAN MUYDEN (NED), Anthony NOSSITER (AUS), Guillaume FLORENT (FRA) and Kevin HALL (USA).
Meanwhile, the race for the Bronze Medal looked over at the first mark with both Andrew and Jonas somewhere in the 50s.
However, Jonas's phenomenal ability to make comebacks saw him take boat after boat and overtake Andrew on the final offwind to finish 17th. However, Andrew stayed close enough to be sure of the Bronze Medal.
Andrew later commented, 'I had a good gap beneath me in the points, so I decided to take a risk and go to an extreme to try and get a result. I had to do something spectacular if I was a going to win, so decided to take the risk. However it didn't really pay off. I wasn't really aware of where Jonas was and he got past me when I wasn't paying attention. However that woke me up and I started trying harder again and kept in touch with him to stay in third overall.'
Twice former world champion Mateusz Kusznierewicz ended, what for him was a poor regatta, in sixth place. After having a bad start to the week with a 17 and 18, he has been trying to understand what was going wrong. He revealed, 'I have been having bad upwind speed all week. I don't know why. I need to look at things and make some improvements I think. After my terrible first two days though, I am delighted with sixth overall.'
On the future for him he commented, 'I will sail in Brazil next year and then in Athens, but then I will give up sailing the Finn. I might be tempted to come back for the Moscow Gold Cup as it sounds like that will be good.'
In the Junior Finn Gold Cup Marin MISURA (CRO) finished in 30th place, ahead of Edward GREIG (GBR) in 39th and Tapio NIRKKO (FIN) in 59th.
The Medal Ceremony was held by the swimming pool of the Hotel Yacht Club in Puerto Sherry with the World Championship Medals awarded by ISAF Vice-President, Fernando BOLIN.
The eleven countries qualifying for the 2004 Olympic Regatta from the 2003 World Championship are: Denmark, Australia, Turkey, Netherlands, Slovenia, Canada, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden, USA, New Zealand
Double-handed Dinghy - 470
2003 470 Women's World Champions © ISAF
Unstoppable are the only words that can describe the performance of Sofia BEKATOROU and Emilia TSOULFA (GRE) at the 2003 ISAF World Championship. Despite an OCS in today's race 9, which was followed by an 8 in the penultimate race, Sofia and Emilia claimed the title. Their scoreline of results can only be described as outstanding, with, until today, no places lower than fourth.
Coming into this World Championship and following on from their win at the 2003 Athens Regatta, the final test event for the 2004 Olympic Regatta, the girls were determined to win. "We were determined to win here. We believed in our abilities and have worked hard."
With no wind postponing the scheduled start, the starting sequence for the women's Gold Fleet did not get underway until 1530 hours. In conditions which were described as the toughest so far, a big swell and very patchy wind initially, the three top placed crews leading the fleet were on edge.
In fact the entire fleet were. After two general recalls, the girls got underway, but it was not until midway into the race that Sofia and Emilia realised they were OCS. However, they knew that this was not going to effect their place, especially as the positions of their two closest challengers, Jenny ARMSTRONG (AUS) and Belinda STOWELL and Lisa WESTERHOF (NED) and Margriet MATTHIJSSE, were mid-fleet.
The beat to the windward mark saw a shift, favouring those who went left. The fleet were then off to the wing mark for two windward/leeward rounds. Going through the leeward gate for the first time, it was the Dutch team of Marjon KOOLSTRA and Petra DE GOEDEREN who led the pack over Helena LUCAS (GBR) and Jenny HEELEY. Surpisingly one of the last boats to come through were Jenny and Belinda, although they were ultimately to make up the places and finish 19 in the fleet.
Marjon and Petra continued to lead on the second rounding of the wing mark, a lead they managed to hold to the end and take the gun, marking their best performance of the series. Behind them the whole way, from start to finish, were the French pairing of Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadege DOUROUX, who in turn were followed by Therese TORGERSSON (SWE) and Vendela Zachrisson. Today,s racing was saa
Going into the penultimate race 9, Sofia and Emilia knew they just had to sail safe, mid-fleet would be fine, and the Gold Medal would be in their hands.
With bunching at the pin end, the British pairing of Christina BASSADONE and Katherine HOPSON found a break and flashed through the line on port tack, to take an exceptional start. Behind them, the bunch, became a total disarray with several boats doing 720's and ultimately a protest arising out of the incident, on which at the time or writing we are yet to hear the outcome.
Most of those having a clean start tacked right fairly early. But by the windward mark it was those that favoured the left who had gained, and at the mark it was the OREL sisters from Slovenia, Janja and Alenka, who led the pack followed by Jenny and Belinda, and France's Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadege DOROUX.
The Boys Wish the Girls Luck © ISAF
The same procession continued around the wing mark, with Sofia and Emilia rounding in tenth and immediately gybing off.
Down to the gate, by which point Janja and Alenka and Jenny and Belinda had extended their lead over the rest of the pack, with the next three boats, Ingrid and Nadege, followed by Mario SAARIKALLIO (FIN) and Maria DIESEN and Christina and Katherine.
These front three positions remained through to the end, the only difference being a swap in position as Belinda and Jenny managed to pass the Orel sisters. These two front boats had a significant lead over the next two, who in turn had a further lead over the rest of the pack. Sofia and Emilia continued to play safe in the middle of the fleet and finished eighth overall.
Scoring their worst places in the series today, Sofia and Emilia sailed ashore elated with their victory.
Back in the boat park, one of the first sailors to come and congratulate them was Jenny ARMSTRONG (AUS), helm of the Gold medal winning pairing who took the Sydney Olympics by storm, who said, "Well done girls. Good job. Congratulations!"
Up until today, Sofia and Emilia have been leaving the boat park within minutes of packing their boat up, wishing to go back to their apartment, rest and remain focused. However, tonight will be a different story as they plan to go out with a few close friends and have dinner. With the medals in the remainder of the women's fleet and the entire men's fleet to be determined tomorrow, the celebration party will take place in 24 hours time.
Speaking on their tactics today, Emilia commented, "We just wanted to play safe today. The conditions were very tough and we just had to have good and safe races."
before adding "I am really happy."
Sofia added, "We did badly in the Europeans and after that result we were more motivated to come back."
This win marks the fourth successive year that Sofia and Emilia have won the 470 World Championships, a fantastic achievement. A scoreline that includes five bullets is impressive at any level of the sport, but with the quality of sailor that can be found amongst the fleets in the Bay of Cadiz, a consistency like their's is hard to match.
The pressure is certainly on this pair and all points to a very high likelihood of a Gold in Athens next year, even more evident with a win at the recent Athens Regatta 2003. They acknowledged the challenge to remain on top and focused with just under a year to go to the Olympics, and plan to continue to race the international circuit.
With the Silver and Bronze to be determined tomorrow, it is all set to be a battle between the French and Australians, who currently sit a point apart.
In addition to the medals, the eight qualification slots for the 2004 Olympic Regatta will also be decided.
Tomorrow's sailing will be followed by the Medal Ceremony for both double-handed men and women events, which will take place at the venue in Rota.
Double-handed Dinghy Men - 470
An exciting day today in the final phase of the 470 Worlds as part of the ISAF World Championships in Cadiz. Some very close racing and change of results swapped many predictions on the outcome of this Championship.
With the women's title won earlier today by Sofia BEKATOROU and Emilia TSOULFA (GRE), the situation in the men's fleet got more exciting than anyone could have predicted or hoped for.
Race 9 finally got underway after four general recalls. Sailors got more careful when the "Black Flag" was set at the starting vessel at the 3rd attempt to start up the 10th Men's Gold Fleet race. 13 boats out of the 35 were disqualified during the fourth attempt.
Nick ROGERS and Joe GLANFIELD (GBR) showed the fleet a secret that they kept all the event by rounding the upper mark in first position, ahead of the group still in the race for the title. Gustavo MARTINEZ and Dimas WOOD (ESP) managed to take lead to round the upper mark, letting no one touch his position to take the gun.
Immediately after the start of race 10, the fleet split itself up, with half hunting the upper mark on the right side, and the other half over on the left. Very close racing brought the fleet to the gate downwind, with positions around the mark impossible to tell as they approached in bulk. Nathan WILMOT (AUS) and Malcolm PAGE, who like to "just be patient" didn't leave it by just talking and set their minds to win the race
After racing, Gustavo MARTINEZ (ESP) looked happy and excited about today`s gains. Still concentrating, he told of his plans for tomorrow, " We will be close to our opponents, and fight boat by boat. Last year at the Worlds in Italy we had a similar situation where we lost in the final race, and finished third. We will try to use our experiences and try to avoid making the same mistakes."
Whilst in the lead on countback, but on equal point with Gustavo, Gabrio ZANDONA (ITA) commented earlier this week, "It will be harder to defend and retain the lead at the end."
In race 10 today, the Italians who have been ruling all the event, simply gave away their best cards by finishing 15. Even if they had placed a reasonable fifth, they would still have been 10 points ahead of the overall number 2.
Current standings show Australia's Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE climbing today into a third position, with 47 points, only 5 points away from the leaders, Italy´s Gabrio ZANDONA and Andrea TRANI, with in Silver Medal position Gutstavo MARTINEZ DORESTE (ESP) and Dimas WOOD.
This overnight situation could see the 2003 470 World Championship ending in a "sail off", featuring Italy, Spain and Australia.
If the group are nervous at the starting line as happened today, the Black Flag could wave the Championship into another direction and give chances to sailors that are currently waiting in second line of the podium.
We will see. With World Championship medals and Olympic qualification at stake, tomorrow's final day of the ISAF World Championship will be an interesting one.
High-performance Dinghy Open - 49er
Chris DRAPER and Simon HISCOCKS have become the first British team to win the 49er World Championship, having put in another solid performance on the Bay of Cadiz today.
A 2,6,7 score in the lightest winds of the week was enough to give this dominant team the Worlds with two races to spare. Draper summed up his success afterwards: "What probably made the difference for us is a combination of things: speed, starts, tactics and also the fact that we feel at home here. We are still a bit stressed though, because Paul BROTHERTON is doing very well here and nothing is sure for Athens."
Draper's close rivals for Olympic selection, Paul BROTHERTON and Mark ASQUITH, did indeed have a good day again today, climbing to second overall with 1,9,2. The one thing that might keep Brotherton's hopes of Olympic selection afloat, is just how well he has sailed in the Gold Fleet finals, but the difference between the teams was Draper's ability to score nearly all his qualifying races in the top three.
Germany's Marcus BAUR and Max GROY hold their third place by the tiniest of margins from Norway's Christoffer SUNDBY and Frode BOVIM. Whilst the championship is decided, the fighting for the other podium positions will be fierce on the final day of racing tomorrow.
2003 49er World Champions, Draper and Hiscocks (GBR)© Event Media
Multihull Open - Tornado
In a contrast from yesterday, conditions were lighter for the Tornado Fleet today here in Cadiz. After a long wait on shore the boats were sent out to start Race 9 at 17.50 with NW 11-9 kt wind.
The fleet was very anxious and not even a first start with flag India up calmed them down, resulting in a first start general recall. A second start with black flag tried to hold them back but again the start was recalled. A third start, black flag, saw them finally on their way.
French sailors Olivier BACKES and Laurent VOIRON took the lead for most of the race but the ever present Bundock and Forbes (AUS) clawed their way back to first on the last upwind leg. No such luck for the British pair Leigh MCMILLAN and Mark BULKELEY (GBR) who had a difficult day finishing 11th.
The Americans John LOVELL and Charlie OGLETREE finished third behind the French. Martin STRANDBERG and Kristian MATTSSON (SWE) had another excellent result, third place, but were one of the 9 black-flagged and therefore disqualified sailors. Yesterday they had a second but were also OCS.
Only one race is scheduled for tomorrow and the fight for the title is not over yet. Australia is leading by 5 points and surely the British, who are now in second overall, will try to get to the top. Argentineans Santiago LANGE and Carlos ESPINOLA are still lying third.
German Olympic Bronze Medallist Roland GAEBLER, who had retired after the Sydney Olympics, came back with a new crew, Gunnar STRUCKMANN, and is making his way up to the top. From 6th overall yesterday to 4th today.
Tomorrow not only the Title will be decided but also the names of the 7 countries, previously unqualified, who will now get their ticket to the Olympic Games in Athens 2004.
Single-handed Dinghy Open - Laser
With only one race to go the lead in the World Championship has changed for the first time since the championship started.
At the scheduled start of noon the race committee postponed the start on the shore, finally at around 14.30 a light sea breeze started to fill in. However the start was further delayed for when a large oil rig was leaving port and the harbour master shut the port. Sailors eventually left shore to commence racing at 15:30.
The Gold fleet's race, which comprised of 25 nations, began in a light 8 knot sea breeze. After two general recalls the fleet had a clean start and yet again the fleet split distinctly between the left and right hand side of the first windward leg. Overnight leader Gustavo LIMA (POR), who was favouring the left, had a port starboard incident half way up the beat which resulted in him exonerating himself with a 720 degree turn. As the fleet closed on the top mark the group of ten boats rounded the first mark led by Anders Nyholm DEN, this group included second place overall, Robert SCHEIDT (BRA), who rounded in seventh. Lima eventually rounded the top mark with only nine boats behind him.
After the downwind leg a small group of boats took advantage of a shift to the left to make a large gain and local sailor Luis Martinez (ESP) led to the top mark. Lima was also in this group. Martinez held his lead for victory ahead of DiegoRomero (ARG) with Scheidt third. Lima continued to work his way through the fleet to eventually finish sixth to maintain a small lead in the overall points.
The second race commenced in a slightly softer breeze than the first race. Again Nyholm led to the top mark, which he rounded just ahead of Mate ARAPOV (CRO). Scheidt rounded in seventh place with Lima further back on the fleet. Scheidt said 'After a disastrous start I had no option but to bang the right hand corner and fortunately there seemed to be a bit more pressure on that side and I managed to come in from way out on the lay line to round in a good position'
Positions remained fairly static on the downwind legs other than Daniel BIRGMARK (SWE) moving from third to first with Lima eventually rounding six positions behind Scheidt's third place. On the next beat Scheidt maintained a loose cover on Lima protecting the left hand side of the course, although he lost several positions himself he maintained a buffer of boats between himself and Lima.
On the second beat BIRGMARK (SWE) extended his lead and Phillippe BERGMANS (BEL) moved through to second. These positions remained the same to the finish with Scheidt finishing third, 6 places ahead of Lima. Scheidt now holds a slender 2 points lead over Lima.
Tomorrow is the last day of racing with only one race to be sailed to decide the championship. Scheidt and Lima cannot be caught so an exciting finale is in store. Scheidt will no doubt be thinking about the last race in the Sydney Olympics when he missed out on his second gold medal after being sailed out of the last race. This time the boot is on the other foot as all Scheidt has to do is stay in front of Lima in the final race to gain an unprecedented seventh World title.