29 November 2014 – Issued on behalf of ISAF – The Medal Race places in the ten Olympic and open kiteboarding events were decided at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates after a tense day of competition.
The top ten in each fleet will advance to the Medal Race in a do or die battle for ISAF Sailing World Cup Final glory and a share of the $200, 000 prize fund.
It was another beautiful day in Abu Dhabi with clear blue skies, a north westerly breeze at 10-13 knots with the Emirati waters filled with the sails of 270 sailors from 38 nations.
ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao gold medallist Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) pulled within one point of overnight leader Louis Giard (FRA) after a hard day of graft in the 19-boat Men’s RS:X fleet.
Like all of the fleet, Kokkalanis (GRE) has had to work hard for good positions and has been the most consistent racer in the pack. A string of top five results put him in a strong place going into Sunday’s Medal Races as he sits one point behind Giard.
Immediately after racing an exhausted Kokkalanis said, “It was a really tough day. The wind was shifting and one time it was ten knots and then the next it was 15. It was really hard. We’ve had some ups and downs, all of us.
“I managed to finish fourth in the first race, fourth in the second race and third in the third but again, it was really tough. I don’t know the point’s situation now but I’m close to the guy in first, Louis Giard.”
Giard could not find the frightening form he had from the day prior where he won all of the races. Instead he notched up two eighth place finishes and discarded a 14th. Kokkalanis has the big race experience having won gold at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami earlier on in the year and most recently Qingdao and knows what he has to do to take the title, “I will plan for tomorrow’s Medal Race tonight but I will try to do my best. And my best is to win the Medal Race. Anything that comes after that I want to believe will be the best, so we will see.”
The windsurfers will be sailing inside on the Corniche racing area where the winds are lighter and the water is flatter and Kokkalanis realises there’s a challenge ahead, “I heard from the guys that the Corniche area is really shifty so it’s going to be a really tricky day. I hope the scoreboard won’t be up and down and I hope the top three stay like this and we don’t have any bad situations.”
Giard and Kokkalanis have a healthy advantage on 26 and 27 points apiece. A top seven finish in the final race will guarantee them a medal. Nick Dempsey (GBR) follows them up on 36 points with Aichen Wang (CHN) fourth on 41 points and Pawel Tarnowski (POL) fifth on 42 points.
Bryony Shaw (GBR) continued doing what she does best in Abu Dhabi, winning Women’s RS:X races. The British racer, who picked up bronze at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, has amassed six of nine race victories. Her outstanding performance gives her a 16 point lead over Charline Picon (FRA) going into the Medal Race.
The way Shaw’s been sailing has been a delight to behold but she played it safe on the penultimate day to consolidate her lead, “I feel like I’ve sailed a good series and people today were just going for it. I was trying to play it conservatively and just wrap the week up. We’ll see how I go tomorrow. We’re inside tomorrow so it’s something completely different from the whole week but it’s the same group of good girls so I’ll try and see it with fresh eyes.”
Shaw has a medal wrapped up with gold likely whilst the same can be said for Picon who has an unassailable advantage over the third placed Blanca Manchon (ESP). Manchon herself has an excellent advantage over the fourth placed Hei Man Chan going into the Medal Race.
The Women’s RS:X will kick start the final day at 09:45 local time.
Moana Vaireaux and Manon Audinet (FRA) drew within six points of Nacra 17 leaders Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA).
The teams battled it out on the race track, fighting tooth and nail for places in a highly talented fleet. The final race of the saw close quarter combat between the French teams, as they fought for supremacy. “In the last race you never knew what would happen between us, ” said Besson, “the upwind mark is very close to the shore and it was very shifty but we arrived first for the last rounding and we didn’t know what was going to happen.
“We arrived first and there was no wind and we were waiting and they just tacked in front of us and we were like, come on let’s go. You never know what’s going to happen but that’s racing.”
Besson and Riou went on hot pursuit of their compatriots but Vaireaux and Audinet had the edge with a head start. They took the final race victory by nine seconds and nonetheless Besson and Riou had no sour grapes, “The French team is a big family and we are happy to be here. We do the best we can every day. It’s a good spirit inside the French team.
“I really don’t know what will happen tomorrow but with the Medal Race on the inside course [by the Corniche] it could be a big surprise.”
Besson and Riou top the leaderboard on 24 points whilst their compatriots follow on 30. Matias Buhler and Nathalie Brugger (SUI) complete the podium on 38 points, one point ahead of Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank (AUT).
49er and 49erFX
New Zealand’s Alex Maloney and Molly Meech will take a 15 point lead into the 49erFX Medal Race after another fantastic racing day. The Kiwis have guaranteed themselves a medal with the colour to be decided on the final day. But with such a strong lead, Sweden’s Lisa Ericson and Hanna Klinga, who are second, will be hard pressed to reduce the deficit with the Kiwis in such imperious form.
Italy’s Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich are 18 points off Ericson and Klinga in third. They will be relying on the Swedish to finish dead last and take the race victory themselves to move up to silver. Nina Keijzer and Claire Blom (NED) are three points off the Italians in fourth.
Polish superheroes Tomasz Januszewski and Jacek Nowak have been doing everything right in the 49er to maintain their lead going into the final day. Whilst their day was somewhat of a mixed bag with scores of 4-13-8, they can feel pleased to hold a five point lead over Marcus Hansen and Josh Porebski (NZL).
Spain’s Carlos Paz and Anton Paz, Beijing 2008 Olympic gold medallist, are tied on 50 points with Julien d’Ortoli and Noé Delpech of France in third.
Men’s and Women’s 470
Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) hold firm in the Men’s 470 on 10 points following a pair of second place finishes. Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) picked up the opening race win of the day and trail the Australians in second on 16 points. Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) secured the final victory of the day and as a result, climb up to third overall.
Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar (AUT) hit the Race Committee boat in the opening Women’s 470 race and subsequently retired as Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) took the gun. The second victory went the way of Japan’s Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka who move up to third.
The Austrians maintain their lead on nine points with China’s Shasha Chen and Haiyan Gao holding on to second with 15 points. The Japanese team are two points off their Chinese rivals.
Slovenia’s Vasilij Zbogar has maintained his high level of sailing throughout the week and notched up a second and a third to take a 15 point lead into the Medal Race.
Zbogar, an Athens 2004 Olympic bronze medallist and Beijing 2008 Olympic silver medallist in the Laser, has been outstanding throughout the six race series. The Abu Dhabi breeze has suited his sailing style, height and weight and he has revelled in his surroundings.
It was a hard day for Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) following a collision with Ed Wright (GBR). Gaspic failed to complete the race and was unable to sail the second. As of 18:30 the Croatian sits fifth overall after he filed a protest against Wright.
As it stands, Caleb Paine (USA) occupies second overall after a solid performance whilst young Jake Lilley (AUS) sits in third.
Young Oliver Bridge (GBR) dominated the kiteboarding heats winning every single one of his races. Bridge, Asian and European Champion has been a class above his competitors and will head into the semi final as one of the favourites.
2014 World Champion Maxime Nocher (FRA) and 2013 World Champion Florian Gruber (GER) also picked up victories in their flights and will be aiming to advance to the final.
Two semi-finals will be held with five racers in each. Places 1 and 2 will carry forward ten points, 3 and 4 seven points, 5 and 6 five points, 7 and 8 four points and 9 and 10 three points. Two races in each semi-final will follow with the top two placed sailors in each heading to the final.
From there, it’s a four way single race shoot out for the podium spots.
It’s going to be a Super Sunday in Abu Dhabi with all the Medal Races scheduled to take place across one racing area.
The schedule is as follows:
09:45 – Women’s RS:X
10:20 – Laser
11:00 – 49erFX
11:35 – Women’s 470
12:15 – Finn
12:55 – Men’s RS:X
13:30 – Nacra 17
14:05 – 49er
14:40 – Men’s 470
15:20 – Laser Radial
16:00 Open Kiteboarding