Gold secured, shakily, by Asher and Willis
The first medal races were held today at the Delta Lloyd Regatta with Skandia Team GBR’s Nick Asher and Elliott Willis winning the 470 men series after a nerve-racking final race, while Italy’s Giulia Conti and Giovanna Micol won the women’s division and Norwegians Eivind Melleby and Peter Morland Pederson grabbed the victory in the Star class.
Although Skandia Team GBR’s two-time 470 Mens World Champions went into the last day of racing with a 20 point lead at the top of the table, it wasn’t all plain sailing with their lead severely dented after picking up an OCS in the first of their two fleet races earlier in the day, dropping them to second overall. But the duo bounced back with a fifth in the second fleet race putting them back into pole position but with a margin of seven points going into the medal.
The medal race started as planned at 1800 in light wind and drizzle. In fourth overall, the Croatian Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic were the ones with the most to gain despite being 11 points behind third placed Argentinians Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente.
The Croatian started well and reached the top mark in front. The boats spread on the downwind leg as they sailed into more breeze. The Croatians increased their lead on the second upwind followed by the Australians, Swedish and regatta leaders Asher/Willis. The third beat saw some upset when the Israelis and the two French boats who went hard right, sneaked in between the Australians (second behind the Croats) and the Brits who at this stage had lost the lead of the regatta to the Australians.
Israel’s Gidon Kliger and Eran Sela got closer and passed the Australians and the Croats over the finish line. With the Israeli now in front, Asher and Willis regained their lead to win the event.
“The first couple of laps were pretty standard really,” said Willis of their medal race. “We had good boat speed, the boat felt nice. Up at the end of the last weather leg, just before all the rain came in, the wind started to go wacky and we got a little bit caught out in the middle.
“Two boats overtook us and we went round the windward mark in a big group and had seen that the Croatian guy had gybed out of the windward mark and was reaching down towards the finish in a load of breeze that had come in ahead of the cloud. We gybed just after the mark and then just reached to the finish!”
Asher added: “Our conservative day didn’t go to plan, picking up an OCS in the first race but then we pulled it back to fifth, so it wasn’t a great day – we made it hard for ourselves when we shouldn’t have really. But [the win] is good – we’ve had a barren spell so it’s good to be back on winning form and hopefully it’ll continue in July for our World Championships.
“The conditions were very tricky but we have a good speed which helped a lot", says Asher, 'It surely was the most exciting race of the week, but very nerve-racking!"
The 470 Women’s medal race was won by France’s Ingrid Petitjean and Nadège Douroux fourth this morning, placed second behind Emmanuelle Rol and Hélène de France to take bronze. Conti and Micol and second placed World Champions Lisa Westerhof/Lobke Berkhout kept their earlier positions.
Skandia Team GBR Development squad duo Hannah Mills and Claire Cumming, sailing their first season together, were the sole Skandia Team GBR boat in the 470 women’s medal race and finished ninth overall
“We’ve had a really good week, even though it didn’t end quite as we’d have hoped,” Mills explained. “It was really tricky and gusty racing out there and just really hard to try and think ahead in those conditions.
“But we’ve learnt a huge amount this week – it was nice to get a good range of conditions, and given the amount of training we’ve been able to do together it was great just to make it into the medal race.”
The Stars were the third class to hold a medal race today and it was Croatia’s Mate Arapov and Ante Sitic who claimed victory in this but the overall leaders Eivind and Pedersen were behind them to take victory by 12 points from the Croats with the US’ Andy Horton and James Lyne third.
Elsewhere Austrians Nico Delle Karth and Nikolau Resch continue to lead but breathing down their neck only six points are Australians Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen. “We have been quite consistent this week,” said Karth. “We are happy to be in the top three with such a big fleet. We are going into the Medal race with a six point lead, which is nice. I hope that the Australians and the New-Zealanders who are just one point apart will cover each others, but it might not happen! We haven't won any regatta since Miami OCR last year so we are ready to take another one."
Skandia Team GBR will have three boats in the medal race but none are now in with a chance of podiuming.
The Brits will also have three boats in the Finn medal race tomorrow. Of these Ed Wright is in the most promising position, lying fourth, one point away from bronze and 10 away from leader Ivan Klakovic Gaspic with Spain’s Rafa Trujillo holding second and the US’ Zach Railey.
Australia’s Tom Slingsby is in a dominating position in the Laser with a 16 point lead over Britain’s Nick Thompson, in turn one point ahead of Chile’s Matias Del Solar.
Slingsby, who is racing his first international event this year at the Delta Lloyd Regatta said: “There is still a long way until the Olympics so I prefer to take it easy and not race too much. I am now in Europe for four years. I use this regatta to train before our Europeans in Estonia. Then I will go to Kiel, Weymouth and finally the Worlds in England in September. I stay in Europe for four months. It's hard to travel to all the events when you live in Australia but once in Europe it is easier to travel around.
“I didn't expect to do so well here. I am comfortable in the breeze but still need to improve in the light even if I have made some good progress. I know I can still improve everything a little more. I need to find a bit more 'finesse" that the Europeans have!"
While local heroine Marit Bouwmeester still leads in the Radial, Belgium’s second placed Evi van Acker won both races today to narrow the gap to first down to five points. “I had good starts," explained van Acker. “I over stood the top mark and got 5th at top mark but caught up down wind to win. For the second race I had a good start, but again over stood the top mark; luckily, I took a gust and went from 15th to 3rd at the bottom mark then tacked away and grabbed the lead. This week I have won races in both extreme conditions and feel good about tomorrow's Medal race."
In the sailboards, the dying wind in the afternoon only allowed for one race in the men's Gold fleet. Poland’s Przemek Miarcynski has put together a phenomenal regatta with four bullets and is nine points ahead of teammate Piotr Myszka who rose to second today, but only one point ahead of third and fourth placed Nimrod Mashiah (ISR) and Alexandre Guyader (FRA). British World Champion Nick Dempsey is currently fifth 15 points off the lead.
Poland is also doing well in the RS:X Women with Zofia Klepacka holding second, ten points astern of Spain’s Blanca Manchon. Bryony Shaw holds third but she is 27 adrift of the lead.
In the Women’s match racing the semi-finallists have been decided with Lucy MacGregor going up against Sofia Bekatorou while Tamara Echegoyen will face Anne-Claire Leberre (FRA).
30 knot winds are expected tomorrow, so if racing takes place it should be edge of seat stuff. Racing can be followed with live TV and tracking over the interweb.
Full results here