Action packed ending to the Delta Lloyd Regatta
With winds of 15-18 knots, occasionally gusting to 20, the final medal races at the Delta Lloyd Regatta 2010 was an exciting one.
Skandia Team GBR sailors picked up four more medals to bring their total medal tally to five following to the gold already won by 470 duo Nic Asher and Elliot Willis on Saturday night. RS:X man Nick Dempsey and the women’s match racing trio of Lucy Macgregor, Nicky Muller and Ally Martin picked up silver medals, while Bryony Shaw scored bronze in the women’s RS:X as did Helena Lucas in the 2.4mR Paralympic class.
In the Finn the overall lead changed constantly during the medal race as leader Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic was seventh at the top mark and had to fight his way back to the front of the fleet to secure the title. Team mate Marin Misura held the lead for the whole race to take third overall, while Gaspic, the double European champion, ended up third place which was enough to secure him gold, with Spain’s long term campaigner Rafael Trujillo picking up silver.
Britain’s Ed Wright missed out on the podium after an initially strong showing. With Gaspic languishing towards the back of the fleet at one point, Wright saw a glimpse of gold, but it was not to be and with Wright managing to get caught out on the final run, saw his medal hopes slide – he ended up fourth overall.
“It was all looking so good at one point – Ivan was deep so I had the gold medal position,” he explained. “But then, like so many times this week I got stuck in a windless hole and the others sailed around me so it was a pretty disappointing end.” More on the Finns below...
Australia won both the 49er and Laser classes. Tom Slingsby dominated the Laser fleet and took Gold after an epic medal race. Positions changed regularly with the light and shifty wind with disqualifications given by the jury for excessive kinetics that proved decisive in the overall results. Croatia’s Lukka Radelic collected his second disqualification and had to retire from the race, while Spain’s Javier Hernandez lost the lead of the medal race and in the process the silver medal on the last run when he collected his first yellow flag. Hernandez had to settle for Bronze behind Chilean Matias del Solar.
But the star was Slingsby who’s second place saw him finish the regatta 25 points ahead of del Solar. “With these conditions I had decided to play it safe. I was worried to get flagged as well," he explained. “I like the conditions in Medemblik. I always sail well here. It's my favourite spot."
Sadly Nick Thompson’s ninth place in the medal race resulted in him being two points short of the podium following his bad start when the race committee started five minutes ahead of schedule. Paul Goodison’s win in the medal race left him in fifth.
For Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen the margin was much narrower. Placed in second position behind Austrians Nico delle Karth and Nikolau Resch going into the medal race, the Aussie took the lead of the race at the bottom mark when the regatta leaders capsized. Their misfortune benefitted both the Australians and New Zealanders Peter Burling and Blair Tuke who took first and second in the Medal race along with the gold and silver, with the Austria with the bronze.
Despite there being three British boats in the 49er medal race, none were in contention with the top placers being Dave Evans and Ed Powys who finished seventh ahead of Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes.
In the Laser Radial there were no surprises with the Netherlands’ Marit Bouwmeester both winning the medal race and the Gold, with a 15 point margin over Belgium’s Evi van Acker.
After the starting gun, the Belgian world number four tried her luck on the right side of the course, as a big shower was coming in from there. Bouwmeester decided differently: “I did not expect the pressure to build up that quickly, so I stayed with my gust." Bouwmeester took and early lead, whereas Van Acker was sixth around the top mark.
“Winning a World Cup event is cool, but it is not my main objective,” said Bouwmeester. “It is still a long way to London. I am happy with the experience and learning points of this week. It was good to sail the Medal Race under pressure." With Van Acker going home with silver, bronze went to the Czech Republic’s Veronika Fenclova.
The semi-finals of the Women’s Match Racing were raced this morning, with Lucy Macgregor’s taking out Greece’s Women’s 470 Gold medallist Sofia Bekatorou 3-0 while France’s Anne-Claire Le Berre was similarly unbeaten in her match against Spain’s Tamara Echegoyen.
The final went all the way to five races, with the French winning the first two and the Brits clawing their way back to claim matches three and four. In the final decider after a good start Macgregor took the lead until the last leg when the French team blew past them on a gust to cross the finish line first, Anne-Claire Le Berre, Alice Ponsar and Myrtille Ponge collecting their first Sailing World Cup victory.
“This victory means a lot for us,” said Le Berre. “This is the first time that a French team has won a match racing event in the Sailing World Cup. This is the result of all a team work and hard training over winter. It is also very special to win against the British who have been undefeated until today. We know that to win their team we needed to give it all. Our objective was to get to the semi-finals, so everything after was a bonus. Today we were confident with our manoeuvres, boat handling and speed. Our motivation did the rest."
Macgregor added: “It was a great final in the end. We lost the first two so the pressure was on for the rest of the racing and we pulled back really well to win the next two after that. It was frustrating to lose the last race – we were winning initially and then lost it on the first downwind so it was game over from there really.
“It’s been a great week for us,” she continued. “We have learnt a lot but today I think the difference really was that the three of us haven’t really sailed together enough – Annie Lush is away at the Louis Vuitton regatta at the moment. It’s been fantastic working with Nicky all week but I think the three of us just weren’t quite in sync at times today.”
The wind had gone light when the RS:X men started their medal Race this morning. Regatta leader Poland’s Przemek Miarczynski won the race to take his first title of the season. Cypriot Andreas Carioulou dominated the race but the Pole gradually caught up to pip him at the post. “I was waiting for the gusts to catch up with Andreas,” said Miarczynski. “On the last run, I went to the right and did my job! It had been difficult racing, both physically and mentally. The light wind meant pumping constantly and looking out for the shifts and pressure."
A third place in the medal race left reigning World Champion Nick Dempsey with Silver. He made the best of the light conditions his third coming despite having to re-cross the startline fearing he was OCS.
“The week’s gone really well, it’s been a really tough week so I’m happy,” said Dempsey. “It’s been a pretty tough year so far with underperforming in Palma after not being very well for a month and then still struggling in Hyeres. As the season goes on you get fitter and stronger and it’s nice to know that I’m almost back on track to where I’d like to be.
“It gives me a stack of confidence – I really have struggled to find form and find pace in some of the conditions. The light wind stuff is now starting to get really good again, I’m really very happy with all the light wind work we’ve been doing, but I’ve still got a lot of work to do in the stronger winds.”
In the Women’s RS:X Spain’s Blanca Manchon came out on top despite an eighth in the final race. “Today I had to sail with Zofia Keplacka (POL) to make sure I stayed in front of her," said Manchon. "It didn't matter that I sailed in front or at the back. She is the only one that could threaten me!"
The Pole took Silver leaving Beijing bronze medallist, Bryony Shaw once again with the bronze. Like Dempsey her race didn’t go entirely to plan as she was forced to make penalty turns after infringing her French rival Pauline Perron at the first windward mark.
“It’s been a really hard week – I only just got the red dot today from the win that I got yesterday,” said Shaw afterwards. “It’s been hard to stay consistent in the really shifty offshore winds so it was good to finish on the podium finally. I’m tired but I’m happy!
“I’d say I’m pretty strong in light wind conditions and it’s important to try and play to your strengths. Today I was making sure I kept an eye on the French girl who was closest to me in points, and just tried to stay relaxed and sail sensibly!”
The 2.4mR class sailed one last controversial fleet race. This left current IFDS World Champion and title defender Thierry Schmitter finished one place ahead of France’s 2004 Paralympic Champion and 2008 silver medalist Damien Seguin who protested him. On the run, they had sailed next to each other with Schmitter to leeward. Seguin luffed and Schmitter’s boom had touched the French boat. The Dutchman lost the protest and therefore the gold medal to Seguin. Schmitter comiserated: 'It is a pity to finish a regatta this way, but that detracts nothing from my performance on the water."
Meanwhile Helena Lucas was able to add a second bronze to the British medal tally finishing ninth in today’s final race today – her worst finish of the regatta – but it was enough to secure the final podium spot by two points ahead of her Skandia Team GBR teammate Megan Pascoe.
“Getting a result here has been really key for me,” Lucas explained. “We’ve got the IFDS World Championship here in July so to get a medal here before the IFDS Worlds give me great confidence going into the event.”
RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park gave his view of the regatta: “It’s been an interesting regatta with lots of changes in the schedule and sailors often having to be ready to sail at any time from 10am until 7pm.
“With the exception of the Star classes, in all the classes we competed in at some stage during the week we’ve been wearing a medal position vest showing that we’ve got a good crop of competitive sailors. However, as always it’s the finishing positions at the end of the regatta that count and in this regard there were a few missed opportunities.
“Of particular frustration was Nick Thompson being disadvantaged by an error of the race committee when they started the race five minutes ahead of schedule and Nick, who was in silver medal position, was then late for the start. As a sport we must get these details right if we want the World Cup to succeed as a concept.
“Still, it was great to see Nic and Elliot getting back to form and winning a regatta in preparation for the 470 Worlds coming up, plus Lucy Macgregor’s team and Nick Dempsey back on the podium again having failed to medal at recent World Cups.
“It’s also been encouraging to see the younger talents of Hannah Mills in the 470 and Mark Andrews in the Finn making the medal race for the first time this year.”
Full results here
Robert Deaves' Finn focus
Drama, comebacks, excitement, wind and rain - the Finn medal race at the Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik, Netherlands had it all. Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) fought back from the tail end of the fleet to retain the overall lead and win his first Sailing World Cup event of the year. Rafa Trujillo (ESP) also fought back after being out of the medals for a while to retain the silver medal position while Marin Misura (CRO) led the race from start to finish to snatch the bronze away from Zach Railey (USA) and Ed Wright (GBR) who both had their chances during the race.
The rain and the low clouds thinned slightly for the Finns but the sailors were not worried about the appalling conditions. What concerned them was how to approach the windward mark, close under the shore. Very shifty winds and variations in pressure on either side meant that whoever got it right could move through the fleet with ease. Several sailors who got it wrong were dumped out of the running.
Starting in the middle of the line Marin Misura favoured the left side of the course on the first upwind to build a small lead around the top mark from Ed Wright and Zach Railey. Trujillo rounded seventh with Kljakovic Gaspic in ninth - both were out of the medals at this stage. Mark Andrews (GBR) and Tapio Nirkko (FIN) had favoured the right hand side and rounded fourth and fifth.
Misura extended on the first downwind and was never really threatened again. Andrews and Nirkko moved up to second and third on the free pumping downwind with Wright and Railey rounding fourth and fifth.
The second upwind was where things started to change. First working the left and then approaching the windward mark from the right, Kljakovic Gaspic cruised into fourth place, enough to take back the overall lead. Trujillo was still back in ninth and with a lot of work to do. Andrews was still second and Wright was fourth.
Not a lot changed on the second downwind, but on the final upwind Trujillo made his move. Staying initially more to the right of the fleet he started to take places and finally rounded the final windward mark in fifth place. Giles Scott (GBR) also made gains on this leg jumping from fifth to second. Meanwhile both Wright and Railey had slipped to the back of the fleet, and out of the medal positions.
The last downwind was crucial. Both Wright and Railey worked hard to take boats, and managed to climb to fifth and seventh, but it was not enough.
Misura's win meant he climbed two places to third, while Trujillo, who finally placed fourth, retained his second overall position.
Kljakovic Gaspic, who made a brilliant recovery from ninth to third took the regatta by a margin of just six points. It was his second major win in two weeks, after retaining his European title 14 days ago in Split.
The European champion said, "It was a typical medal race, always complicated, especially in these shifty and gusty conditions I knew it was
going to be a long and exhausting race so it was just about being patient, waiting for my moments, and I finally got them. Everything except the first beat was really good for me.
"You can't say do anything special in these conditions, you have to sail in the wind that you have and make the best of the conditions that you have, and it's not easy for anybody, so I knew it was going to be tough, so I was prepared for that. I like sailing in these shifty conditions.
"This is my 11th podium place in last 11 major regattas that I have done, so it has been a good season for me, and last season was really great for me so it can't really get better."
After finally gaining a podium place, Trujillo said, "Very difficult racing today, very shifty and pressure differences but mostly it was difficult
because of all the good sailors I was competing against. I just think being patient was key."
Did he think he had lost a medal again, after lying in ninth place after the second upwind? "No - I never thought that - once you start thinking like that you are dead. I have not had a great year in terms of medal races but I was more patient and waited for an opportunity."
On his performance in general, "I think I have made small steps forwards but there is still a lot work to do before Sail for Gold and the Gold Cup, so much work to do. Thankfully this week I was able to work with Sebbe Godefroid again, he has been fantastic to work with. I always learn a lot from him.
"I have been sailing OK all year but the results probably have not shown that. To be honest I am not too fussed about results. What is most important for me is that I keep improving but most importantly that I enjoy my sailing and that I can make all my supporters back at home happy - that's what is important for me."
Just before the medal race the final race for the rest of the fleet took place with Jan Kurfeld (GER) winning from Andrew Mills (GBR) and Brendan Casey (AUS). This left Casey in 11th place with the returning shape of Pieter-Jan Postma (NED in 12th.