Photo: Margje Tempelaars

Gale force gusts for final medal races

Dramatic final day on the water at the Delta Lloyd Regatta

Sunday May 29th 2011, Author: Corine McKenzie/James Boyd, Location: Netherlands

Yet another dramatic day on the water, with winds that were regularly 20-30 knots and one recorded gust of 39 knots, concluded this year's breezy Delta Lloyd Regatta.

The first medal race saw the 49ers creating the show with the top four boats battling for the medals in windy conditions. The wind was shifty and gusty with places changing constantly. The New Zealanders Peter Burling and Blair Tuke took the control of the 10 boat fleet at the first bottom mark and were in Silver medal position but a capsize after rounding the top mark again cost them the second position overall. But the fight was on between Australians Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, second going into the race and the British leaders Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes. In the end the Irish team of Ryan Seaton and Matthew McGovern won the medal race and with the Australians finishing in fourth, only two places in front of the leaders, it was not enough for them to take Gold. Morrison and Rhodes took the Gold with the defending champions, Outteridge/Jensen the Silver and the New-Zealanders bronze.

“It was tight out there, the Australians did well in the breeze," commented Stevie Morrison. "It was close racing with lots of shifts and it was important for us to avoid penalties so keep far enough but not too much.”

The Finns medal race resulted in a second gold medal for Great Britain. World Champion Ed Wright started strongly while leader Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic got buried early. Wright sailed away while the Croat was able to pull up to third but was unable to overhaul Dutch sailor Pieter Jan Postma. This dropped Gaspic to second which Australian Brendan Casey maintained the bronze spot.

“It was exciting to go out there this morning," declared Wright. "I saw my friends win the 49ers and it was inspiring! I love these conditions and I was quite confident but you never know with the medal race. I van sailed really well this week and it was hard job to win this event.”

Young Canadian Greg Douglas, sailed today his first medal race. The 20 years old who competed in the last Olympics in the Laser for Barbados, vowed that there will be more to come. “The medal race is very intense. The start was impressive with everybody 100% to take early advantage; it was tough.”

With an 18 point margin going into the medal race Tom Slingsby more or less had simply to finish to earn himself the second Gold for Australia and defend his title in Medemblik. Despite a slow start into the Medal race, Slingsby caught up to finish fourth. Croatia's Milan Vujasinovic won the medal race with Brazil's Bruno Fontes close behind in second, securing his silver medal with Roelof Bouwmeester the bronze.

“In Australia we like wind and waves!" commented Slingsby. "I often perform well here. I won last year and other years as well. I like Medemblik, I feel comfortable here. I struggled to find rhythm in the shifts on the first beat but found my pace later in the race.”

A fourth place in the Medal race secured Gold for Marit Bouwmeester (NED) retaining her title, while Belgium's Evi Van Acker claimed silver. However there was an upset for the bronze spot. China's Lijia Xu, who started the medal race in third position overall, went from leading the to the 9th place, as a capsize ended her chances for a podium position. Instead a sixth place for Croatia's Tina Mihelic was enough for her to take bronze.

The podium remains unchanged in the RS:X men division after the medal race where the boardsailors were struggling to prevent themselves getting airborne too often. Early leader Korean Taehoon Lee displayed his skill in the strong breeze to win the medal race and his first Sailing World Cup title. It was also the first podium for Canadian Zachary Plavsic in Silver. Second in Melbourne last December, China's Wang Aichen took the Bronze.

The wind was fully into the 30s when the RS:X women started their medal race, which turned into a fight for survival for most with nearly all the competitors thrown into the water at some point. Worst affected was the leader going into the medal race, Mayaan Davidovich (ISR) couldn't recover to finish the race and dropped off the podium. This allowed China's Li Ling, who had started the day in second, to win the medal race by a large margin to claim the title. This is the first Sailing World Cup podium for Li Ling who placed fourth in Sail Melbourne last December. Two Australians completed the RS:X women podium. Veteran windsurfer, Jessica Crisp earned her third Silver medal in Medemblik, six points ahead of Allison Shreeve in bronze.

The 2.4 sailed a last race on Sunday. Thierry Schmitter (NED) won all the races in the series. “This has never happened to me! Of course I am really happy but not sure if it is due to my skills or the competition.” One of his main opponents, Damien Seguin (FRA) missed the Delta Lloyd regatta as he was participating in the Normandy Channel Race in a Class 40. Megan Pascoe (GBR) took Silver after posting a third in the last race while Andre Rademaker (NED) was third overall.

Some of the greatest drama was left for the final of the Women's Match Racing between the teams of local favourite Renee Groeneveld and Silja Lehtinen. For these the wind was still gusting into the high 20s and early 30s at the start/leeward gate.

Rene Groeneveld (NED) won the first match with a tight finish. In the second Silja Lehtinen's team was ahead when on the final run a huge gust passed through causing the Dutch boat nose dived, sending Groeneveld's two crew over the leeward side and unable to hang on to the spinnaker sheet, Groeneveld was left to sail on singlehanded, the Elliott 6's jib ripped. With the score levels, so Lehtinen's team was comfortable leading as the two boats split on the run and while the Finnish boat looked to be in good pressure, the Dutch were successfully able to ride a monster gust into the finish and surged into the lead to take the win and the title. 


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