Francesco Marrai (ITA) kick started the day taking the first gold in the Laser whilst Lithuania’s Gintare Scheidt (LTU) followed shortly after in the Laser Radial.
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) confirmed their status as the leading 49er sailors with another complete performance whilst the best was saved until the last. Home nation favourites and the popular crew of Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) stole the show in the 49erFX, coming from behind to clinch gold.
The Men’s and Women’s 470 and Finn confirmed the Medal Race participants whilst the Nacra 17 will have to wait another day to sail their Medal Race after time run out to hold it on the day.
Brazil’s Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze came from behind to take a memorable gold medal in the 49erFX.
Home nation favourites and Olympic champions in waiting, as perceived by the Brazilian media, Grael and Kunze were able to overturn a nine point deficit between Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich (ITA) as they took their chance when it came.
Conti and Clapcich ended the race at the back of the fleet and a fourth for the Brazilians gave them gold by three points.
The Italians were in the driving seat heading into the race but small mistakes in the Medal Race gave the Brazilians an initiative as Conti explained, “We made a mistake at the first rounding. The spinnaker halyard was stuck in the spreaders. It was my mistake as I did not bear away after the gybeset. We were still in control of the two boats we needed to be in control of until the last upwind and they, the Swedish and Brazilians split and we made a tactical mistake. We decided to stay with the Swedish and the rest of the fleet. It meant that the only way we could lose was from the Brazilians as she could gain boats.”
And gain boats is exactly what the Brazilians did as Grael described things from her point of view, “I knew there was a chance we could turn it around but I was more concerned about keeping silver than taking first but we got a chance on the last downwind so we took it.
“It was quite a tricky race. We pulled out a very nice last downwind and we managed to get enough points to win from the Italians. I don’t think it could have ended better.”
By the vast amounts of Brazilian media in attendance throughout the day, it was almost as if Grael and Kunze had won Olympic gold itself. But as a test event, dealing and handling with an expectant crowd is just what is needed, “The Brazilian media either worship you or kill you, ” explained Grael through a smile, “We get pressured into talking about the bay but it’s all under control.
“I’m feeling really happy. You can kind of tell what the Olympics is going to be like, really hard to sail in and anything can happen.”
Sweden’s Lisa Ericson and Hanna Klinga completed the podium after an eighth in the Medal Race.
Francesco Marrai (ITA) will be able to book his plane ticket to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games after he took gold in the Laser. For the Italian team, any sailor that finished on the podium at the test event would be guaranteed a place at Rio 2016 and Marrai secured his spot on the startline in the most stylish of ways, with a golden shine.
Coming into the event Marrai was a rank outsider for gold with several leading sailors aiming to lay down a marker and when asked if he thought he’d win the Italian exclaimed, “No, no, no, not at all. Last year I finished sixth and that was a very good regatta for me.
“I didn’t expect to win or get a medal but I found myself up there and I just kept on fighting. The first day I was down in seventh and second, third and then first for three days and I was able to just keep my position.
“I’m very happy right now, it’s quite a new situation for me and I cannot show much emotion but this is very big for me.”
A ninth in the Medal Race handed the Italian gold in a high scoring week of Laser racing. Consistency was almost non-existent as Rio’s challenging breeze and current tested the sailors not only physically, but mentally.
“It’s a very complicated place, ” explained Marrai. “You can find both strong and light wind. Big waves outside the Bay and little ones inside the bay. It’s a very complete place. You need to be a complete sailor. I really love this place.”
As for Marrai’s planning for the next 12 months, “It’s going to be a big challenge. We’re going to make a program with the federation and do our best for next year. We want to be well prepared to get that gold medal again, of course.”
Fourth in the Medal Race handed Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) silver whilst Tom Burton’s (AUS) fifth gave him bronze. It was heartbreak for Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) who got stuck in challenging conditions on the race track that meant he finished at the back of the pack to fall from second to sixth.
Lee Parkhill (CAN) took the Medal Race bullet.
Gintare Scheidt held on to take gold in the Laser Radial despite receiving a discretionary penalty in advance of the Medal Race.
Scheidt was awarded four extra points for breaching the class rules which in fact relegated her to third overall going into the Medal Race so she had it all to do.
In the end Scheidt took the bullet which handed her a well-deserved gold medal, “Today was a bit tense because I was protested due to measurement and I got an extra four points in the Medal Race. It was not a nice way to start the Medal Race day but it was my mistake, nobody else’s and I accepted it. I went into the race not thinking about it and that’s what I did.
“I’m feeling great now, it’s a big relief. Today I was tied with two other boats and I could have lost the medal but now it’s time to celebrate. It’s a good present for my son who is six years old today. He’s in Lithuania with my mother but he’s always cheering for me and saying to me, ‘mummy you’re sailing so good, keep it going’.”
Scheidt’s son will wake up with good news from his mother but the report from his father will be mellow after he missed out on a medal by two points in the Laser. “There was only one medal in the family this year, ” smiled Gintare. “Two would be perfect but we sailed at our maximum. Sailing is something you have to do at the best you can.”
The Robert, Gintare Scheidt husband and wife combination is a well decorated one and Gintare is comfortable with her surroundings in Rio, “The Brazilian team helps me a lot. I feel like a part of their team and they help me with everything. Also Robert, he has a lot of experience here but I don’t have the possibility to train here much. I have only sailed two regattas here. Most people think I’m a local here but I’m not. The top sailors training here sail in Rio a lot more than me.”
For now, the Scheidt’s walk away with one medal but with one year of preparation remaining, who’s to say it won’t be two?
Evi Van Acker (BEL) and Marit Bouwmeester (NED) completed the podium whilst Paige Railey (USA), having occupied a podium position for the large part of the week missed out after a DNF in the Medal Race.
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) extended their unbeaten run in the 49er by taking a convincing victory.
With just a single result out of the top eight in 11 races, the Kiwis set another marker on the road to Rio. Heading into the day they had a comfortable lead over their rivals and knew a solid result would seal the deal. They did exactly that, coming through in fourth and Tuke was pleased with a job well done, “It feels great. You know, it’s a really big objective for us one year out from the Games and we’ve put a lot of emphasis on this, this year. We’re really happy and it puts us in a good place going into next year.”
Burling echoed his compatriots thoughts, “Obviously this is great practice for us trying to test everything for next year. We’re really happy with how we started off. We started off pretty solid, not fantastic, but we just got better during the week.”
The test event allowed the 49er sailors the perfect opportunity to imitate the Olympic arena. Twenty boats on the start line is the exact same number as the Olympic Games and for the Kiwis it was the perfect opportunity to show their rivals, many of whom who will sail at Rio 2016, who is boss in the 49er, “This week’s been really great practice for us, ” commented Tuke, “There are 20 boats like we’ll be racing in next year with one boat from each country which isn’t what we normally have at other regattas.
“That’s been really good for us. We have a lot of little things and tricks you learn from sailing in the bay and just how we prepare as well with our coach and support staff. We’ve learnt a lot this week, not just from the results but a lot of other things and we’re happy with how it’s played out over the last three weeks in Rio.”
Nico Delle-Karth and Nikolaus Resch (AUT) sailed their way to a Medal Race second that confirmed them as silver medallists.
Bronze was in the hands of Manu Dyen and Stephane Christidis (FRA) as Germany’s Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel finished at the back of the pack. However, three crews sailed the wrong course and were subsequently disqualified which promoted the Germans up to sixth overall handing them bronze.
It’s tight at the top in the Finn class with one point separating Pieter Jan Postma (NED) and Giles Scott (GBR) after the pair took a race win apiece as fleet racing concluded.
Scott has chipped away at Postma’s early week lead by notching up some consistent scores and a fifth alongside his bullet pulls him within reach of Postma. Whilst Postma took the opening race victory a tenth followed and it will all boil down to the Medal Race.
Tapio Nirkko (FIN) is within reach of the leading pair, eight points off of Postma. Meanwhile the fourth placed Jonathan Lobert (FRA) is ten points off.
Men’s and Women’s 470
The Medal Race places were decided in the Men’s and Women’s 470 after a race apiece on the Escola Naval racing area.
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR) will go in with a five point lead over Anne Haeger and Briana Provancha (USA) in the Women’s 470. Both teams have daylight between themselves and the third placed Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (NZL) who have four other teams able to overthrow them from the final podium spot.
In the Men’s 470, Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) have a handy seven point lead over Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS). The Croatians managed an eighth compared to the Australians 14th and as a result hold an advantage.
Onan Barreiros and Juan Curbelo Cabrera (ESP), Luke Patience and Elliot Willis (GBR) and Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion (FRA) are all tied on 45 points in third.
Racing is scheduled to commence at 13:00 local time on Saturday 22 August as racing draws to a close at the Aquece Rio – International Sailing Regatta 2015
About Aquece Rio
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is set to welcome 339 sailors from 52 nations for the Aquece Rio – International Sailing Regatta 2015, the Olympic test event, from 15-22 August 2015. The Aquece Rio is the second sailing test event in preparation for the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition and sailors will be looking to stamp their authority one year out from the largest sporting event in the world.
The Aquece Rio – International Sailing Regatta allows the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) to evaluate and make key decisions in advance of making the final decisions that will govern the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition.
Six race courses will be tested throughout the week, three outside of Guanabara Bay and three inside. Courses outside include Pai, Copacabana and Niteroi whilst the inside courses are Pão de Açúcar, Ponte and Escola Naval. All will be tested throughout the week by the ten Olympic sailing events. Click here to view the racing areas – http://www.sailing.org/
Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition
The Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition will take place at the Marina da Glória, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and will feature 380 athletes competing across ten events.
Racing is scheduled to take place from 8-18 August 2016 and the competition format for all events is fleet racing.
About The International Sailing Federation
The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) is the world governing body for the sport of sailing.
ISAF is made up of 139 Member National Authorities (MNAs), who are its principal members, and responsible for the decision making process that governs the sailing world.
There are currently more than 100 ISAF Classes, ranging from the small dinghy classes for young people up to 60 foot ocean racers.
HOW TO FOLLOW
Click here to access the Tracking and Competition Status Screen – www.sailing.org/olympics/
Results will be available throughout the Aquece Rio – International Sailing Regatta 2015 on the ISAF Olympic website here – http://www.sailing.org/
ISAF Olympic Website – http://www.sailing.org/
Entry List – http://www.sailing.org/tools/
Racing Schedule – http://www.sailing.org/
Sailing Instructions – http://www.sailing.org/tools/
Online Notice Board – http://www.sailing.org/
Race Areas – http://www.sailing.org/