Home nation favourite Heiko Kröger claimed the title in the 2.4 Norlin OD, Poland’s Piotr Cichocki clinically snapped up gold in the Men’s Hansa 303 and Spain’s Violeta del Reino sailed exceptionally on the final day to seal a convincing victory.
The final day of the Para Worlds, held alongside Kieler Woche (Kiel week) sailing festival, saw a variable 12-19 knot westerly breeze that enabled three races in the Hansa 303 fleets and two in the 2.4 Norlin OD.
Heading into the final 2.4 Norlin OD races, there was just two points of separation between Kröger, Matt Bugg (AUS) and Damien Seguin (FRA).
The title was up for grabs and the top performer on the day would take the title.
As it was so close, observant watchers were expecting it to go down to the final race of the series but Kröger asserted his dominance in the ninth race of the series, taking the race win to put the gold medal within his grasp.
Kröger watched Bugg sail through in fifth and Seguin follow in ninth. As they crossed the finish line, Kröger counted the numbers and had done just enough to win gold ahead of the final race as his lowest discard was a fifth, which was the points difference he had put between himself and his rivals.
After racing, Kröger said, “All the week was very tough and tight. Yesterday I climbed up from fourth to first, just ahead of Matt and Damien.
“This morning I felt a bit weak and tired but I said to myself, it’s not the day to save third place overall, it’s time to win this championship again.
“I was surprised at how well it worked out in the first race by winning it but it was really tough competition.”
The battle for silver and bronze was still on in the final race as Bugg led Seguin by three points. Bugg was discarding a 22nd so knew any slip up could have had a devastating effect on his overall position.
Bugg stayed ahead of Seguin throughout the whole race and managed to clinch a key victory to hand him silver. Seguin, Athens 2004 and Rio 2016 Paralympic gold medallist, completed the podium.
In the Women’s Hansa 303, Spain’s Violeta del Reino capped off a fantastic week, posting a 1-3-1 final day score line to clinch a dominant gold.
Speaking to World Sailing the day prior, a nervous del Reino commented, “I’m panicking. I still have to fight.”
Any signs of nerves were put to bed as soon as the first starting gun was sounded on the final day and she sailed superbly all day long to seal the deal.
“This is the biggest event I’ve ever been in,” exclaimed del Reino after racing. “This week has been quite hard because most of the time we’ve had a lot of wind. It’s been a very tough competition and I’m very happy to have been here, competing with this group of people.
“I feel very proud.”
The fight for silver and bronze went down to the wire with plenty of possibilities. In the end Ana Paula Gonçalves (BRA) did enough for silver and Cherrie Pinpin (PHI) picked up bronze.
World Sailing caught up with Pinpin in Kiel this week – click here to view a video.
Poland’s Cichocki dominated the Men’s Hansa 303 and three final day race wins handed him his second Para World Sailing title in as many years, having won gold in the SKUD18 at the 2016 Para World Sailing Championships.
Australia’s Christopher Symonds fended off a late charge from Germany’s Jens Kroker to seal silver. The German settled for bronze.
By Daniel Smith – World Sailing