More than 1,100 sailors from 59 nations raced at the final ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta of the 2013-2014 series and were treated to exceptional race action.
Medals across the ten Olympic events were decided on the final day with a 10-12 knot westerly breeze on flat water bringing a superb week to an end
Three points split Andy Maloney (NZL) and Tom Burton (AUS) going into the Medal Race and it was Burton who came out on top in a thrilling conclusion.
“It was a bit surreal,” said an ecstatic Burton after racing. “I think that was one of the closest races I’ve done in a long time, if not ever. It was pretty exciting.”
Burton finished fifth to Maloney’s seventh which handed him gold. “I didn’t have the best of first beats. I think I rounded in maybe seventh or eighth at the top and the guys were all in front of me which wasn’t ideal,” explained Burton.
“I just hung in there and Andy got a yellow flag on the first run that put me in front of him but at the second top mark I was directly in front of him so he still had it.
“In the last run it was a bit dicey with big pressure differences and on the line I crossed in front of him by a boat length and then there was a boat in between us two. I only beat him by a nose, it was such a close race.
“I’m pretty stoked. I won here last year and the goal was to come and win again after winning last week in Palma. It was a close race but I’m happy to take the win.”
Maloney went in to the Medal Race with a strong plan but was visibly disappointed ashore as things did not quite go his way, “It was really tough, like it always was going to be in the Medal Race. I was really close with TB [Tom Burton] going into it. The game plan was to lead at the top mark and then evaluate from there. I knew what I needed to do.
“I didn’t have the best of start. The French guy was on top of me so that didn’t help. I was looking pretty good two thirds up the beat and didn’t have the best rounding at the top of the course but I was back in amongst it in the downwind.
“At the bottom gate I had another small hiccup with a yellow flag for rocking. I was then just behind Tom at the bottom gate and in with the fight.
“I got behind him on the final run and it was looking good right near the finish line. I was just sticking with Tom and then the French guy just slipped in right between us.
“It’s tough to take but there are a lot of good points we can take out of this week.”
Rutger Van Schaardenburg (NED) walks away with Laser bronze.
ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne winner Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR) entered the Medal Race with a three point lead over Evi Van Acker (BEL).
Van Acker relinquished her lead the day prior having sailed the wrong course and counted a high score that handed Drozdovskaya the advantage going into the last day.
Van Acker went out with intent and sailed a superb race that she lead from off to take the bullet and gold as she explained, “I just had a strategy that I discussed with my coach and everything just worked out.
“I was the only one starting at the pin end. Everybody else was middle of the line or boat end so I was happy I was down there so could have a good start.
“I played the left side more than the others and I was in front from the beginning. Once you’re sailing in front it’s no so hard, if you’re at the back it’s quite difficult.”
Hyères is one of Van Acker’s favourite venues as she was thrilled to take the regatta victory, “Hyeres is always the toughest World Cup to win. I’ve managed to win it only once before and now it’s really nice to win it for a second time because it’s a difficult venue.
“It’s my first win in a very long time so I’m really happy. I had a lot of fans on the water, all the team went out and it was great fun. I’m really happy that I could make up from my stupid mistake yesterday.”
Marit Bouwmeester (NED) finished the Medal Race in second which was not enough to move in to silver medal position as Drozdovskaya held on to second podium spot with a third.
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) made it two ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta victories in a row with another dominant display.
The Kiwis sealed the deal in the opening race of three stadium style races as they took the first bullet and Burling was delighted to pick up his second consecutive World Cup gold, “I’m pretty stoked to take the win. We had a pretty big lead but it was mathematically possible to lose it so we made sure we did the job in the first race and had a bit of fun in the last two.
“It was really great to get out in the lead in the first race and just be able to sail away.
“We’re definitely really happy with how we backed up Palma with another win.”
The silver medal was picked up by Ryan Seaton and Matthew Mcgovern and the Irish team were all smiles after racing. “It was a great week and obviously the result tops it all off,” said Mcgovern.
“What a great week of sailing in Hyères. It’s been six days of brilliant breeze and sunshine. It couldn’t be any better in every respect.”
Seaton and McGovern finished a disappointing 35th in Mallorca just weeks ago and hit back hard to show the fleet what they are all about, “We came here and we knew we had to hit the ground running. We couldn’t have two bad weeks in a row so it was full on, ‘put the engines on’ and go as fast around the course and keep the mistakes to a minimum.”
Australia’s Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen pushed hard on the final day to pick up bronze.
Brazil’s Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze will go into the remainder of 2014 full of confidence after they took their second consecutive ISAF Sailing World Cup gold medal in Hyères.
The Brazilians were dominant in Mallorca and despite a final day wobble in Hyères they came away with gold.
Grael and Kunze held an 18 point lead over Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) ahead of the three stadium style races and an 8-3-9 score line was enough for them to hold on. The Kiwis won the day with a 6-1-3 score line and reduced the deficit to eight points but they settled for silver.
After racing Grael said, “We’re not used to the format and we had an 18 points lead so it wasn’t too hard for us. We did pretty bad in the races but we still managed to win. I’m feeling awesome, what can be better than this?
“I think it’s been the best week the sailors have ever seen in Hyères. We had great wind, weather and I’ve been talking to the old guys and they’ve all said it’s the best week ever. We’re looking forward to coming back here again.”
Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen (DEN) finished third overall.
After their unbeaten run was ended at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) returned to winning ways in the Men’s 470 at the final ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta of the 2013-2014 series.
Belcher and Ryan took silver in Miami and bronze in Mallorca and are back atop of the podium.
The Australians had a 17 point lead going into the Medal Race and with a fifth they sealed the deal, “It wasn’t our best race,” commented Ryan. “It was quite tricky conditions but we knew we had to stay in front of the Greeks and the French.
“Off the start we managed to get in a good position and from there we protected where we were with the jury on us at the top mark. We were back on track after that and we’re really happy. It’s been a pretty long week and to come down today with not too much pressure was quite a nice way to do it.”
For Ryan the result has extra significance as he concluded, “It’s quite special for me because all my family are over here. My sisters are competing and the parents are over. So it’s really nice to do well and hopefully we can carry the momentum through the year.
“It’s been a beautiful week here in Hyères with beautiful conditions and perfect sailing.”
Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) finished one point ahead of Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion (FRA) as the two teams took silver and bronze.
The Medal Race bullet went to Germany’s Jan-Jasper Wagner and Dustin Baldewein.
Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (NZL) won their third ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta of the 2013-2014 series after another controlling display in Hyères.
The Kiwi girls had a tough day on the water as Powrie explained, “It was a little bit stressful. We made it hard for ourselves. We thought we may have been over at the start so we came back and re-started.
“We managed to make our way back through the fleet and we still managed to come away with an overall win but still stressful.”
The Kiwis finished the Medal Race in fourth which was enough to defend their overnight lead.
Aleh and Powrie sailed in Qingdao, Mallorca and Hyères taking gold at all. On the victory Powrie added, “I’m very relieved. It’s really nice to win again. We put together a relatively good series which was nice. We didn’t have that many different conditions this week. It was a bit of a grind by the end of it.”
Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre, who won ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, and Anne Haeger and Briana Provancha (USA) fought hard for silver and bronze. The Britons came through in second which gave them the silver whilst an American fifth saw them finish the week in third.
There were plenty of permutations possible in the Nacra 17 with ample medal opportunities across the top five racers.
Darren Bundock and Nina Curtis (AUS) had the advantage in the fleet with a seven point lead over Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA) and Vittorio Bissaro and Silvia Sicouri (ITA).
Unfortunately the Australians made an error on the race course as Bundock explained, “We had to finish within three boats of French or within four boats of the Italians. We were doing that midway through the race but then they shortened the course and we stuffed up basically.
“We headed to the wrong mark and we ended up finishing second last and let the other guys get away. We finished third overall and the Italians finished first with the French in second.
“It’s a silly mistake on our behalf. They halved the leg and we weren’t expecting that at all. By the time we tacked and looked back it was all over.”
Bissaro and Sicouri and Besson and Riou were tied on 72 points upon the conclusion of the race but the Italians came through in second compared to the French teams third, which game them gold.
Pieter Jan Postma (NED) had gold in the bag ahead of the Medal Race and sailed with a clear head, finishing sixth to cap off a great week.
“It’s my first world cup win,” said the experienced Dutch sailor. “I’ve always been there for years and years and I’ve never managed to step up so this week was awesome.
“It feels like a personal victory as I topped my best. I’ve got a few more grey hairs but I managed to deal better with my opportunities and I’ve been able to play out my strengths on the battlefield.”
The fight for silver and bronze was between Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) and Thomas Le Breton. Three points split the pair with a Croatian advantage. Gaspic finished up in third place to take silver whilst Le Breton came away with bronze.
Jorge Zarif (BRA) took the Medal Race victory and ended up ninth overall.
PHOTO © Franck Socha / ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres