<B>UPDATE</b> - Mary GAILLARD has claimed the Bronze medal position in the Europes from Lenka SMIDOVA following a protest held this afternoon, which resulted in the Czech sailor being disqualified.
With an emphatic race win in the final race of the series, Sari MULTALA (FIN) has secured the silver medal.
Following a bad couple of races on Sunday, the final day of qualification, which effectively put paid to Sari's challenge on the World Championship title, she produced an awesome physical and mental comeback, to win three of the last five races, and finish eight points behind new World Champion Siren SUNDBY (NOR).
When asked about her bad day, Sari put it down to two essential things. "In the first race I got a bad start and was stuck too far left on the course, and the second I was about 20th round the first mark but got stuck in some incidents and had to do a 720, which put me right at the back"
Racing today was as it has been almost all week in Cadiz. Interestingly, the wind is much stronger in the Puerto Sherry Marina than it is on most of the race courses, and the further west you go, the lighter it becomes. It remains shifty however, but Sari led from mark one today, and from that moment on simply had to cover, get the left hand shifts first, and increase her lead.
By the end of the double outer loop course, she had extended her lead to almost the entire reaching leg.
Siren SUNDBY (NOR), who won the Gold medal with a race to spare yesterday, elected not to sail, but Lenka SMIDOVA (CZE) was out, challenging Sari for second place, but it didn't all go quite to plan.
Lenka finished 19 in today's race which automatically put her in third place overall. However, an incident at the first windward mark with Dutch champion Carolijn BROUWER, resulted in a protest hearing, and Lenka being disqualified from the final race of the series. That puts her in ninth place overall and moves Mary GAILLARD into third place.
Mary didn't have a fantastic race today, finishing in one of the lowest positions she has scored, but a consistent series has seen her sit patiently behind the leading three all week. She only scores one result outside of the top ten, and is a worthy bronze medal winner.
The medal ceremony for the Europe class is due to take place at 20:30 local time at Puerto Sherry Marina, where the World Champion Gold medallist, as well as silver and bronze will be presented by ISAF Secretary General, Arve SUNDHEIM (NOR), a fitting testament to Siren SUNDBY's success.
So Siren and Sari continue their battle between each other for event honours, as we have seen on numerous occasions over the last few seasons of racing. Siren won this chapter, and the 2003 World Championship, but one can be completely assured that these two will continue to fight at events, and train together away from them, especially as Athens 2004 draws ever closer.
On the subject of Athens, this regatta was the penultimate qualification opportunity for sailors to qualify their nations for an entry to Athens, and the top 11 previously unqualified nations here, subject to ISAF ratification, are USA, Denmark, New Zealand, Slovenia, Spain, Belgium, Belarus, Mexico, France, Russia, and Great Britain.
These eleven join Australia, China, Finland, Germany, Irland, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland, who all qualified at the 2002 Europe World Championship, as well as Greece, who qualify as the host nation.
Next year's Europe World Championship will be the final opportunity for nations to qualify for Athens 2004, and the final five nation entries will be decided.
Full results are available on the Championship website at the address below.
- Meg GAILLARD (USA)