Hyères threw out its toughest challenge for the final day of racing at the Sailing World Cup with a truly up and down day of the purest form.
A breeze in excess of 20 knots came through in the morning with many wondering if there would even be any racing at all. Thunder, lightning, torrential rain and huge winds ensured the Olympic sailors were pushed to their limits.
As the day advanced, the weather completely turned on its head and midway through the Laser Medal Race, the wind cut out entirely. A wait for breeze ensued and as the rain returned so did a fickle 3-9 knots. Nine fleets completed their Medal Race with only the Men’s RS:X missing out.
The sun did make an appearance, for the closing ceremony, shining light on the exceptional performances of the world’s best sailors. The heroes of the sport are born at the Sailing World Cup and come of age at the Olympic Games.
The road to Rio is a hard one and if the racing in Hyères is anything to go by, expect fireworks at the Olympic Games.
49er and 49erFX Medal Races
Lisa Ericson and Hanna Klinga (SWE) took their first significant title in the 49erFX, holding on to the lead they grabbed on the opening day.
It wasn’t easy for the Swedes as a number of racers were in touching distance. They managed to edge ahead of their closest rivals for gold, Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) by one place to seal the deal. The Brazilians followed in second.
Jena Mai Hansen and Katja Salskov-Iversen (DEN) moved up into bronze medal position after a third promoted them above Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz (NED). Sarah Steyaert and Aude Compan (FRA) took the bullet.
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) wrapped up gold with a day to spare in the 49er so the real story of the day was the fight for silver and bronze and British supremacy in their selection battle.
Jonas Warrer and Christian Peter Lubeck (DEN) sealed a silver with a second in the Medal Race. Will and Sam Phillips (AUS) dropped to third after a fifth.
Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Alain Sign (GBR) won the Medal Race but it was not enough for them to finish as the leading British team. That title was reserved for James Peters and Fynn Sterritt who finished fourth overall. The British selectors were out on the water, watching closely so as they make the right decision for Rio 2016. It’s anyone’s guess as to who will get that coveted Rio 2016 spot.
Game over in the 49er, 26 in a row for Burling and Tuke
|It’s game over in the 49er at Sailing World Cup Hyères with Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) taking their 26th consecutive victory ahead of Sunday’s televised Medal Races.
The Kiwis look unstoppable in the 49er and even though they ended up capsizing and taking a 28th on Saturday, no one could match their consistent scorecard across the week. They head into the Medal Race with an unassailable 48-point lead.
Sailors were made to wait for the wind in the morning but the north westerly built as the day progressed. All but two of the 29 scheduled Olympic fleet races were completed as sailors fought for a spot in the top ten to progress to the Medal Races.
Whilst many fought tooth and nail to make the Medal Race for Sunday’s live broadcast, Burling and Tuke will sail round the course knowing the job is done. Fans will be able to watch them live at 13:50 CEST with the whole show commencing at 11:00.
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49er and 49erFX
The question of the week at Sailing World Cup Hyères was, ‘can anyone stop Peter Burling and Blair Tuke on their quest for Olympic glory?’ Evidence suggests the answer to that question is a resounding no as they made it 26 consecutive wins. Simply outstanding.
Not even a couple of capsizes could halt them and they take a 48-point lead into the Medal Race. The 49er completed three races and the Kiwis notched up a 10-1-(28). The pair were black flagged in the final race of the day but the breeze completely died resulting in an abandonment. Even if the race concluded, they would have still taken a winning margin into the Medal Race.
Getting carried away isn’t in Burling and Tuke’s nature. They remain grounded, modest and most importantly, focused on what’s ahead, no matter how much the world’s press builds them up to be Olympic champions in waiting, “Obviously we are really happy with how we have been going,” explained Burling, “but we have a lot of hard work to do over the next three or four months just to finish it off and finish off the final detailing.”
A 28th and a black flag is rare for Burling and Tuke and whilst they laughed it off back ashore, they won’t want a repeat at Rio 2016, “If Rio was tomorrow, I don’t feel like I think we are ready yet. We still have plenty in the tank and we’re looking forward to the challenge,” concluded Burling.
The story for the Medal Races will be the fight for the remaining podium spots and internally between the British 49er sailors. The silver and bronze occupants are Will and Sam Phillips (AUS) on 92 points and Jonas Warrer and Christian Peter Lubeck (DEN) on 94 points.
Great Britain’s James Peters and Fynn Sterritt are the leading British crew on 100 points with Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign and John Pink and Stuart Bithell nine points behind. The British Rio 2016 spot is still up for grabs and selectors are in town, keeping a close watch over the racing.
Lisa Ericson and Hanna Klinga (SWE) held on to their lead in the 49erFX but only via countback. They are tied on 58 points with Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) ensuring an exciting finish.
Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz (NED) enter the Medal Race in third place having qualified to represent the Netherlands at Rio 2016 with their outstanding week.
By Daniel Smith, World Sailing
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