Gold for Wright
The big British win of the day was that of Ed Wright who came from three points behind Croat Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic to claim the Gold in the Finn.
The medal races got underway after a short postponement to await the sea breeze. The Finns were the first to race, and in the light and shifty winds Wright’s fourth place was enough with Gaspic’s sixth knocking him off the top spot by just one point.
“I was pretty lucky to get the Majorca World Cup win,” admitted Wright, “but two in a row is really great and hopefully I’ll be able to carry it on at the next events in the year. The whole week has been pretty up and down – it’s been a tricky regatta, and the medal race just as much. There were light winds, and usually a left hand track here, but the wind kept flicking to the right. Ivan was in front and dominated the left hand side, and I was quite lucky to get round him on the right, so that pretty much gave me the event.”
Wright's win also gives him a commanding lead in the ISAF Sailing World Cup series after his previous win at the Rolex Miami OCR.
There were few surprises in the 49er medal race when starting with a 15 point lead France’s Emmanuel Dyen and Stéphane Christidis posted an 8th place – enough to secure them gold by 10 points. However Athens bronze medallist and double World Champion Chris Draper and Peter Greenhalgh overhauled their team mates Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes to claim the silver. So two podiums for Skandia Team GBR in one class – not too shabby.
“We’re over the moon,” said Draper of his and Greenhalgh’s first podium finish together since joining forces just over a year ago. “We were disappointed at the World Championships – we really felt we could have done a bit better there. We went away from there and had a good think about it, and we spent a lot more time working off the water on everything than we did on the water.
“We’ve changed a lot of the way we go about doing things, and basically are just trying to get better as a team. We’re a young team together, so we’re really pleased that things are moving forwards.”
With the 470 Women’s leaders tied on points going into the medal race it was eventually Italy’s Giulia Conti and Giovanna Micol who finished immediately ahead of France’s Ingrid Petitjean and Nadège Douroux to take gold. These two teams were a class apart from the rest of the fleet with third place overall going to another French team – that of Emmanuelle Rol and Hélène DeFrance.
France’s also proved their dominance in the 470 with Pierre LeBoucher and Vincent Garos taking gold in the men’s class, 14 points ahead of Israel’s Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela. Spain’s Onan Barreiros and Aaron Sarmiento won the medal race and this was enough for them to knock Australian duo Matt Belcher and Malcolm Page from the podium. Nick Rogers and Pom Green scrapped into the medal race but a sixth place finish wasn’t enough to raise them from 10th.
Spain scored their only gold in the Laser with Javier Hernández finishing just two points ahead of Croat, Tonci Stipanovi,. Hernández said: “This is like a dream; it is the first World Cup event I have won. I wish to dedicate this victory to Kim Lythgoe - I will be thinking of him when I collect the trophy and it will be an honour to meet the King. I was very tense during the race because I knew it was going to be tough, but I battled to the end. The last downwind leg was very exciting because we were all sailing in a close group. Finally, I managed to finish fourth and guarantee victory.”
British hope Nick Thompson posted a fifth in the medal race to finish fourth, four points from third placed Mike Bullot from New Zealand.
Croatia also showed their strength in the Radial where Tina Mihelic managed to fend off Veronika Fenclova from the Czech Republic to take gold by four points. Third overall and some way behind the two leaders was Spain’s Susana Romero who managed to nudge Holland’s Marit Bouwmeester from the podium.
The biggest order change following the medal race came in the Star which resulted in former World Champions Freddie Lööf and Johan Tillander claiming gold from Switzerland’s Flavio Marazzi and Enrico de Maria. There was disaster for Italy’s Diego Negri and Ferninando Colaninno, who were leading after the end of play yesterday but who finished last in the medal race dropping them to fifth.
In the Women Match Racing Final, Renee Groeneveld’s Dutch team defeated Nicky Souter’s Australian team, while in the petite-final American Sally Barkow beat Lucy MacGregor leaving the British team fourth.
In the RS:X women sailor. Italy’s Alessandra Sensini, the Beijing silver medallist and Athens bronze medallist, dominated this event to claim the top spot on the podium ahead of 2009 World and European Champion, Spain’s Marina Alabau with third place going to Skandia Team GBR’s Bryony Shaw. Sensini, who had not participated in any event since the 2008 Olympics, did not expect to win: “I started training again not so long ago”, said the Italian sailor whose goal was to be among the Top 5 and “surprisingly, I have won”.
There were big changes in the RS:X men with yesterday’s leader, Israel’s Shahar Zubari dropping off the podium leaving overall victory to Greece’s Byron Kokkalanis 11 points ahead of Beijing Gold medallist, New Zealand’s Tom Ashley.
Of the British team’s performance RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park commented: “It’s been a tricky week, and a number of sailors have had a tough time of it but came through to do well so that’s encouraging.
“It’s great that Ed Wright managed to gain the gold in the Finn, as he was not doing so well halfway through the regatta, and I’m pleased for Chris Draper and Peter Greenhalgh bounced back to get silver after a couple of instances of gear failure in the week.
“In fact Ed, Chris Draper and Nick Thompson have all had what they would consider to be unfortunate outings, but in terms of the results it worked out reasonably well.”
“The number of medal opportunities we have continues to increase,” Park continued, “but it’s only good if you convert those opportunities and this week we missed out on a couple.
“We’re looking forward to Hyeres and the next round of the World Cup at the end of April.”
Full results here
Robert Deaves reports on the Finns
After a thrilling medal race, Skandia Team GBR's Ed Wright (GBR) took out the 41 Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia MAPFRE in Palma for Finns, the first European leg of the 2009-2010 ISAF Sailing World Cup. Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) took the silver and Jonathan Lobert (FRA) the bronze. The medal race itself was won by Zach Railey (USA) who led from start to finish in the shifty conditions.
Typically of the wind this week just not playing the game, the medal race day brought flat calm conditions and an early postponement for all classes. The Finn medal race was supposed to start at 11.00 but it wasn't until 12.40 that the fleet finally got away in just 7 knots of breeze.
At the first windward mark Zach Railey (USA) was leading from Andrew Mills (GBR) and Daniel Birgmark (SWE). Regatta leader Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) rounded in fourth, with his main challengers Jonathan Lobert (FRA) in fifth and Ed Wright (GBR) in sixth. Railey held his lead on the first downwind from Mills, while Kljakovic Gaspic and Wright moved up into third and fourth.
The second windward leg proved crucial. Though Railey held onto his lead, everyone behind him changed positions. Birgmark recovered to second while Thomas Le Breton (FRA) climbed from eighth to third. More importantly Wright passed Kljakovic Gaspic. Lobert, who was in third place overall going into the medal race, looked in trouble as he faded to eighth while early regatta leader Rafa Trujillo (ESP) was way back in ninth.
The final exciting downwind leg to the finish brought only two significant changes. Wright managed to slide past team mate Mills to put that crucial one boat between himself and Kljakovic Gaspic to take the regatta win by just one point. The Croatian finished sixth in the race to take the silver while Lobert moved up one place to seventh, which was just enough to hang onto the bronze from his team mate Le Breton who took third in the race to finish fourth overall, just one point behind Lobert.
Once again the Skandia Team GBR sailors produced an impressive performance with three sailors in the medal race and the fourth one finishing 11th.
Coach Matt Howard, said of Wright, "He's not had the best week this week, but I think that's the sign of a top performer, that even when he's not quite hitting the groove he's still up there."
Ed Wright had not even been in the top four all week until the penultimate day but pulled out the results when it mattered. Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic also looked in trouble mid-series but recovered to lead the fleet into the medal race, but was perhaps a little bit unlucky to lose the series by just one point. Third placed Jonathan Lobert is showing his potential in the best possible way, improving in each regatta and his first major regatta podium
Wright's win also gives him a commanding lead in the ISAF Sailing World Cup series after his previous win at the Rolex Miami OCR. Next stop for the ISAF Sailing World Cup is Hyeres where they will do it all over again.