A fourth in the final race of the series was enough to secure the Gold medal and World Championship title for Hannah SWETT, Joan TOUCHETTE and Melissa PURDY from the USA on the final day of racing for the women's keelboat event here in Cadiz.
Going into the final day of racing in the Yngling fleet, they were a single point behind Ulrike SCHUEMANN
, Wibke BUELLE and Winnie LIPPERT(GER). Both crews were guaranteed either a bronze, silver or Gold Medal but it was the American's who took the initiative on the final day.
Hannah had commented yesterday on her approach to today's race, "We have a strategy, we just have to execute it."
And execute it they did.
It was early series leader Dorte JENSEN (DEN), with her crew of Helle JESPERSEN and Rachel KIEL, had to fight back from some disappointing mid series races, and with a second in the final race, nipped into the bronze medal position previously occupied by Kristin WAGNER, who had a tenth in race eleven and finished four points behind Dorte. Dorte had led the final race from the start, but lost out to Betsy ALISON (USA) Lee ICYDA and Susanne LEECH, who took the lead after the second windward leg, and held this place to take the gun.
As well as World Champions, Olympic qualification was up for grabs in today's racing and subject to ISAF ratification the following previously unqualified nations have gained entries to the Olympic Games in Athens 2004: Great Britain, Russia, Italy, France, Australia and the Ukraine.
They will join, Spain, Germany, USA, Bermuda, Denmark and Greece as host nations on the start line of the first race from the Agois Kosmas Olympic Sailing Centre in Athens. A further three nations will qualify at the class World Championship in 2004, making 15 the total number of nations at the Olympic Games in 2004.
After a general recall on the first start, racing got underway cleanly second time with Ekaterina SKOUDINA (RUS) getting a good start from the starboard end. Most of the fleet either played the middle of the course or the left hand, onshore side. However, two of the early leaders, Ulrike SCHUEMANN (GER) and Betsy ALISON split up the first leg, only coming together again at the windward mark at the top end of the fleet.
Dorte JENSEN rounded the first mark ahead of the pack, and by the leeward mark both herself and Trina PALLUDAN (DEN) were in first and second, both deciding up the second beat to head to the left hand side of the course, rounding the inshore end of the gate. Most of the pack went round the other end and headed off on port tack.
Betsy ALISON pulled up her game on the second upwind leg and overtook both Danish girls to pull into the lead. The breeze had shifted a little right and she took advantage of the starboard lift. But by the mark, Dorte had regained the lead, Betsy splitting the two Danish boats.
The shifty leg had tightened the fleet a little, piling pressure onto the leaders, and some deft tactical choices enabled Betsy Alison to pull into the lead once again. A lead she held up the entire beat. Eventual Championship winner Hannah SWETT rounded the final leeward mark fifth.
Going offshore paid on the final run and it was Betsy ALISON who took the gun in the final race of the championship. Dorte JENSEN (DEN) secured the Bronze medal with a second place, 45 seconds later, whilst in a dying breeze, Hannah SWETT gained a place down the run to finish fourth and become World Champion.
Hannah SWETT (USA), Joan TOUCHETTE, Melissa PURDY
Ulrike SCHUEMANN (GER)
, Wibke BUELLE, Winnie LIPPERT
Dorte O JENSEN (DEN), Helle JESPERSEN, Rachel KIEL
Images © Aline Siepmann
Overall Yngling Results