A testing breeze in the region of 8-12 knots greeted the Women’s RS:X, Laser, 49erFX, Women’s 470 and Finn racers for the morning session of Medal Races.
Racing on the inside course, just off of the Corniche, top honours went the way of Bryony Shaw (GBR), Tom Burton (AUS), Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL), Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar (AUT) and Slovenia’s Vasilij Zbogar.
Dominant Shaw Seals The Deal In the Women’s RS:X
Bryony Shaw (GBR) converted her outstanding week of racing into ISAF Sailing World Cup Final gold on the final day of racing in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The British racer has been flawless throughout the series and took a 16 point lead into the Medal Race. The Beijing 2008 Olympic bronze medallist put in an assured, astute performance coming through in second to claim the honours.
“I am really pleased that I’ve had such a convincing win here, ” said Shaw with a beaming smile. “It’s been a tough year in that I keep missing out on the podiums. I managed to win in Miami back in the beginning of the year. This being the end of the year it’s nice to be back on top of the podium and I hope I can take that momentum into next year.”
Charline Picon (FRA) had an outside chance of taking gold but knew she would have to force Shaw towards the back of the back and take a win. The pair went head to head as Shaw explained, “There was some really shifty and puffy wind on the first beat and I was keeping my eye on the French girl and I matched her every move which was quite fun. The two of us managed to get the best pressure up the first beat and rounded in first and fourth. I was leading the race and then one of the Chinese girls was sailing a good race and overtook me. I then maintained second all the way round and kept the French girl behind me.
“I just went in with a clear strategy and had an eye on my main rival.”
Picon fought hard to catch Shaw but also had to keep an eye on Blanca Manchon (ESP) who was in third and within touching distance. “I had a good battle with Bryony but I had to keep in front of Blanca to keep silver, ” said Picon. “I did a good job by doing that at the start and then I attacked Bryony. But she raced well finishing second with me third so she took gold and I took silver.”
The French racer claimed her first world title a few months ago and came into Abu Dhabi with a reduced training schedule. With minimal time on the water she was buoyed by her performance, “Since the Worlds I only had six days of training. Coming here to discover a new country I did some good work at the start but I didn’t race well so silver is okay.”
Manchon completed the podium whilst the Medal Race victory went the way of Manjia Zheng (CHN) who finishes fourth.
Burton Delivers Knockout Blow To Laser Fleet
Australia’s Tom Burton added ISAF Sailing World Cup Final gold to his 2014 medal haul that includes top honours at World Cup Mallorca and Hyeres.
Burton has been a class apart in the Laser throughout 2014 and delivered a knockout blow on the final day in Abu Dhabi. He grabbed the Medal Race lead from the start and never looked back storming to take the gun and with it, the title of ISAF Sailing World Cup Final Champion.
“It was good racing conditions with flat water and a nice breeze, ” commented Burton after racing, “No one got stuck and left behind but there were a lot of yellow flags flying around a bit across the three laps. I got a bit lucky, like you need to in these races and came away with the win.”
Burton had a nine point advantage over compatriot Matt Wearn coming into the Medal Race which gave him some breathing space, “The point’s buffer made it a little bit easier. It’s always tricky in these races so a point’s buffer takes a little bit of pressure off. But you have to go out there and plan to race to win. That’s what I did and got a good shift up the first beat and lead all the way round.
“I came here with a plan to win. It was my sister’s wedding yesterday so it’s nice to win for her. I thought I sailed well here and it’s nice to finish the year with a win.”
An Aussie one two was on the cards heading into the day with the youngster Wearn occupying second overall. However his more experienced rivals Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) and Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) drew upon their years of experience.
Stipanovic came through in fourth to move up to second whilst a third for Bernaz was enough for him to take bronze. Wearn came through in eighth which saw him drop down to fifth overall but the experienced gained from the regatta will be invaluable looking ahead.
Kiwi Smiles In The 49erFX
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) rounded off a great week by claiming a Medal Race fourth and with it, 49erFX ISAF Sailing World Cup Final glory.
Consistency has been the name of the Kiwis game and only a tenth from the opening day scars a sublime scoreline of top four finishes.
After racing they were two happy sailors even though they didn’t perform how they would have liked, “We’re pretty happy but today was quite a hard day. Not exactly what we planned to do but I’m glad we did exactly what we needed to do, ” said Meech.
The Kiwis had a 15 point lead over Lisa Ericson and Hanna Klinga (SWE) coming into the day so they knew what was required of them to take victory. They remained fairly steady on the race track with the Swedes unable to pose a major threat. The Swedes picked up silver whilst a Medal Race second for Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich (ITA) handed them bronze.
Abu Dhabi has spoilt the competitors throughout the four racing days and the gold medallists were quick to praise the Emirati capital, “It’s been pretty amazing sailing conditions here, ” said Meech. “A lot better than I expected and the venues been great. Quite a few of the top girls have been here and the racing’s been really nice.”
Maloney added, “It was a really cool event and we’re happy to come away with the win. The competition’s been really good. Abu Dhabi’s been a beautiful place to sail, the water’s really clear and it’s been amazing.”
Maloney and Meech will look to qualify to return to next year’s edition through the ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas and the rankings system across the 2015 season. But for now, they’re looking forward to some time back in their native lands. Maloney concluded, “We go home for December and have a good block in New Zealand and then we’ll take a nice break over Christmas and New Year and then we’ll be in Miami for the ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta there for the first time.”
Ups And Downs In Women’s 470 But Austrians Conquer
It was a game of snakes and ladders in the Women’s 470 Medal Race with game changers aplenty as the leader board was shaken up in a tough Medal Race.
Austria’s Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar (AUT) managed to hang on to take gold despite a final onslaught from Great Britain’s Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre.
In a light challenging breeze and flat water it was anyone’s game. The course was full of gusts and shifts that meant that gold was not decided until Vadlau and Ogar crossed the finish line as the helm explained, “It was so tough, so shifty and so gusty. It was really tricky and even if you were last you were able to climb up. We were pretty good in the first two rounds. On the last downwind there was a gust so it was wide open again. Everyone caught up and we had to keep cool and my head was burning. Somehow we managed it.
“It was incredibly hard. Anything was possible but it’s nice to win. We had such an unbelievable season, the best one ever.”
Weguelin and McIntyre had only been back in the 470 together for a couple of days ahead of the World Cup Final after Weguelin picked up deep vein thrombosis. The pair, who picked up 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami gold, have enjoyed their time together once again and with a Medal Race bullet, they moved up from fifth to second.
“I felt quite fired up and excited this morning. It’s just so exciting to do a Medal Race especially with such a stunning backdrop, ” said McIntyre. Weguelin added, “We had a tight Medal Race today we went into it in fifth with USA, Japan and China all really close. Our focus was to just go out there and win the race, and that’s what we did.”
Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka (JPN) went into the day third overall and that’s where they remained with a confident third place. China’s Shasha Chen and Haiyan Gao suffered the consequences of a poor race. A sixth relegated them from the silver medal position to fifth overall.
Zbogar Reigns Supreme In The Finn
Slovenia’s Vasilij Zbogar reigned supreme in the Finn class and claimed a deserved gold medal in Abu Dhabi.
Having laid down a marker on the opening day with a pair of race victories Zbogar, an Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Olympic medallist, came through in second in the deciding Medal Race to claim the title ahead of Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO).
Gaspic claimed the Medal Race victory but it was not enough after the Slovenian watched him astutely around the race track. “I knew it was going to be very difficult as Bambi [Kljakovic Gaspic] is very good in these conditions, ” said Zbogar. “But usually I am good as well. I had an eye on him at the start. I kept near him and matched him.
“I was very nervous this morning as I wanted to win badly. Winning all week, being the leader and then losing it on the last day would have been really bad. I kept my concentration high and pulled it off.”
Caleb Paine (USA) came through in third in the Medal Race, securing bronze.
A Men’s RS:X, Nacra 17, 49er, Men’s 470, Laser Radial and Open Kiteboarding report will follow shortly.