Speed, excitement and five new champions at World Cup Series
With five sailors in striking
distance of the gold medal and seven mathematically alive for a podium
position, the Medal Race for the Women's RS:X at the 2018 World Cup Series
Miami, USA, was projected to be the most exciting of the five Medal Races
scheduled for the penultimate day of the regatta.
Watch today's Medal Races here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3t_sodLO8g
And it delivered with abundant speed and excitement in champagne sailing
conditions on Biscayne Bay.
When the spray cleared, Hélène Noesmoen (FRA) was zipping across the finish
line in first in excess of 20 knots and, in the process, moving from fourth
to first in the overall standings. Rounding out the medals were Flavia
Tartaglini (ITA) and Blanca Manchon (ESP).
"Today was windy, and I think that is my strong point,” said Noesmoen.
"I tried to keep consistent during the week and really push myself in
the Medal Race, and it paid off. I had a bad second day, I think that was due
to the wind conditions, which dropped me to the middle of the [results]
table. But I had an amazing third day, which kept me in the top 10 and
allowed me to compete at the Medal Race.”
The turning point in the double-points Medal Race came on the first downwind
leg when Stefania Elfutina (RUS), the defending Olympic bronze medalist and
regatta leader going into the day, caught the edge of her board after leaping
off a wave and crashed into the water. It the time it took her to recover her
sail and get going again, five sailors—and her medal chances—passed her by.
One of those zipping past was Noesmoen, who rounded the second of five marks
in sixth place. While the breeze velocity was quite steady, there were gains
to be made by playing the shifts correctly. On the third leg, Noesmoen found
an elevator to the podium, moving to second and then to first for the final
two legs of the race.
"This race was going well for me until I crashed on the first downwind
close to the gate,” said Elfutina. "I'm not sure what happened. I'm
trying not to feel disappointed with myself. I enjoyed this regatta and my
races. I learned a lot of things on the water. I can't really say what I
learned [about preventing what happened in the final race], it's just an
instinct that your body adjusts to on the water, and it becomes a reflex.”
For the first time, World Sailing employed a reaching start and finish for
the RS:X divisions. For sailors that are used to parking close to the
starting line and accelerating at the last second—typical of a start in the
RS:X class—this America's Cup-inspired course format required a retooled
starting strategy. But the course, which features four reaching and downwind
legs and two upwind legs, was generally met with positive reviews.
As was the case with the Women's RS:X, no team in the Men's 49er fleet had
secured a podium position of any color going into the Medal Race. But unlike
in the RS:X division, the form guide held true with world champions Dylan
Fletcher-Scott and Stuart Bithell (GBR) staying right in lockstep with Diego
Botín le Chever and Iago López Marra (ESP) throughout the race and ensuring
that the British team would emerge from the race with the gold medal. Holding
on for third, though they did put themselves in a bit of trouble by rounding
the first mark in ninth, were Federico Alonso Tellechea and Arturo Alonso
"It was brilliant fun out there,” said Bithell, a silver medalist in the
470 class. "We had good breeze and plenty of sunshine. The Medal Race is
pretty quick. It was really exciting, and we were just full of adrenaline.
It's just incredible sailing [the 49er]. It was hectic but Dylan did a really
"Our strategy initially was to start at the boat end, windward of the
Spanish. But we got a little late at the start so we had to go to Plan B,
which was to be a bit quicker so we just had to use our speed.”
Though they were, effectively, as far ahead of third place as they were
behind first, Botín le Chever and López Marra attacked the racecourse with
the aim of getting a gold.
"We needed to put the boat between the British and us to win,” said
Botín le Chever. "So we went full-on in the start. The wind was really
strong so we had to keep the boat upright. We found ourselves in second
place. We needed to overtake the Austrians and we did it. We thought that
we'd won the regatta, but then we found out that we were second. Congrats to
Unfortunately for the Spanish duo, the Austrian team that crossed the line
second in the race had crossed the starting line early and was disqualified
from the race. But the silver medal is a strong result for this team, which
was ninth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
"It's a really good position for us,” said Botín le Chever. "We
have some of the greatest 49er sailors here. This event is motivation for us
to keep on working hard. We have a lot of regattas ahead, we still have a
long way ahead.”
Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz started the Medal Race in the 49erFX class
with a comfortable cushion. But in the spicy wind and chopped wave
conditions—and multiple capsizes—no lead was safe. So the German duo kept the
pedal to the metal and finished second in the race behind Stephanie Roble and
Maggie Shea (USA).
"It was a hard wrestle for us today,” said Lorenz. "Our main focus
on the boat was to make sure that all the manoeuvers were safe and that we
didn't capsize. We were not really focusing on the other boats.”
The Norwegian team of Ragna and Maia Agerup was one of the boats that
capsized, but in the end it didn't cost them a place in the overall
standings. They took silver with Tanja Frank and Lorena Abicht (AUT) in
Even for the sailors at the front of the Nacra 17 class, today's race was a
learning experience. The 19-21 knots conditions, with 1-meter chop, were
right on the edge of what the boats can handle, especially given the fleet's
relative inexperience with the lifting foils, which were added to the class
less than a year ago. Upwind, most teams chose to keep one hull in the water
and go for height over speed. Downwind, however, it was a wild ride with both
hulls riding a meter or more out of the water at times. One sailor was swept
overboard when her boat crashed down into the water after foiling downwind at
25 knots. She was quickly recovered and her team finished the race.
Lisa Darmanin and skipper Jason Waterhouse (AUS) started the race with a
19-point lead, which meant they only needed to finish the race to ensure the
gold medal. Instead they added one more victory to their scorecard, showing
exceptional control in challenging conditions.
"We're from Australia,” said Darmanin, a 2016 Rio silver medalist,
"so we love the breeze.”
Defending gold medalists Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli (ARG)
were last around the first two marks, but showed remarkable speed on the
final downwind leg, going from seventh to third and preserving the silver
medal. Thomas Zajac and Barbara Matz (AUT) were sixth in the race and third
With a second in the Medal Race in the Men's RS:X, Kiran Badloe broke up a
potential one-two finish for France. But it would've taken a perfect race and
quite a bit of help from the rest of the fleet to unseat Louis Giard (FRA)
who started the final race with a 13-point advantage. Tom Squires (GBR) won
the race. Pierre Le Coq (FRA) was sixth in the race, which was enough to keep
him on the podium.
"Today the conditions were incredible, I really enjoyed the racing,”
said Giard. "A lot of the guys in the RS:X class are really good. So we
had really close competition and all the time you have to constantly be
looking out because if you open a small window someone will slip in.
"I can't really put my finger on [the key to my success], but I just try
my best and I try to enjoy this competition.”
The Finn, Laser and Laser Radial and Men's and Women's 470 sailed today and
will have their Medal Races tomorrow.
In the Finn class, Giles Scott (GBR) holds first position with a 19-point
lead over the Turkish sailor, Alican Kaynar. Caleb Paine (USA) sits third in
Tom Burton (AUS) has an unassailable lead in the Laser class with a 30-point
cushion over Nick Thompson (GBR). After the tough battle for second place with
Thompson, throughout the week, Philipp Buhl (GER) lands in third place on the
Alison Young (GBR) climbed up the fleet and managed to gain first place in
the Laser Radial.
Emma Plasschaert (BEL) had led for the majority of the week however she drops
to second. The Rio 2016 bronze medalist, Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) is third.
In the Men's 470, Luke Patience and Chris Grube (GBR) lead the fleet with
17-points ahead of Kevin Peponnet and Jeremie Mion (FRA). The Swedish, Anton
Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergström hold third spot.
Tina Mrak and Veronika Macarol (SLO) move up from fourth to first in the
Women's 470. Afrodite Zegers and Anneloes van Veen (NED) take second and
Irmina Mrózek Gliszczynska (POL) third.
The dinghies will sail their Medal Races tomorrow with the racing scheduled
to commence at 12:00. You can watch the remaining Medal Races live here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZcq-EHxZ3M
By Stuart Streuli &
Aadil Seedat - World Sailing