Bryony Shaw still on track

Medal racers decided at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final

Saturday November 29th 2014, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Arab Emirates

The stakes were high on the penultimate day of ISAF Sailing World Cup Final action in Abu Dhabi, with medal race berths up for grabs as the three-day opening series drew to a close.

Sunday will see the podium places for this inaugural World Cup finale decided in the Emirati capital. The top ten in each fleet will advance to the Medal Race in a do or die battle for ISAF Sailing World Cup Final glory and a share of the $200,000 prize fund.

It was another beautiful day in Abu Dhabi with clear blue skies, a north westerly breeze at 10-13 knots with the Emirati waters filled with the sails of 270 sailors from 38 nations.

Men’s RS:X

ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao gold medallist Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) pulled within one point of overnight leader Louis Giard (FRA) after a hard day of graft in the 19-boat Men’s RS:X fleet.

Like all of the fleet, Kokkalanis (GRE) has had to work hard for good positions and has been the most consistent racer in the pack. A string of top five results put him in a strong place going into Sunday’s Medal Races as he sits one point behind Giard.

Immediately after racing an exhausted Kokkalanis said, “It was a really tough day. The wind was shifting and one time it was ten knots and then the next it was 15. It was really hard. We’ve had some ups and downs, all of us.

“I managed to finish fourth in the first race, fourth in the second race and third in the third but again, it was really tough. I don’t know the point’s situation now but I’m close to the guy in first, Louis Giard.”

Giard could not find the frightening form he had from the day prior where he won all of the races. Instead he notched up two eighth place finishes and discarded a 14th. Kokkalanis has the big race experience having won gold at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami earlier on in the year and most recently Qingdao and knows what he has to do to take the title, “I will plan for tomorrow’s Medal Race tonight but I will try to do my best. And my best is to win the Medal Race. Anything that comes after that I want to believe will be the best, so we will see.”

The windsurfers will be sailing inside on the Corniche racing area where the winds are lighter and the water is flatter and Kokkalanis realises there’s a challenge ahead, “I heard from the guys that the Corniche area is really shifty so it’s going to be a really tricky day. I hope the scoreboard won’t be up and down and I hope the top three stay like this and we don’t have any bad situations.”

Giard and Kokkalanis have a healthy advantage on 26 and 27 points apiece. A top seven finish in the final race will guarantee them a medal. Nick Dempsey (GBR) follows them up on 36 points with Aichen Wang (CHN) fourth on 41 points and Pawel Tarnowski (POL) fifth on 42 points.

Dempsey improved his standings today with the help of two race wins from his three races. “It was really, really hard – really tricky,” described the two-time Olympic medallist of the racing conditions on Saturday. “There were a few times where you just had to roll the dice a little bit and just smash a corner. I did that in the first couple of races and it was alright actually.”

The 34-year-old feels like he’s been on good form in Abu Dhabi this week after a difficult season: “I‘m certainly more confident than I was at the beginning of the week and I certainly feel like I’m racing and I can take anyone on the water at any point around the course. That’s really nice, because I haven’t really felt that for a long time. It feels like things are starting to come together a bit.”

Women’s RS:X

Bryony Shaw (GBR) continued doing what she does best in Abu Dhabi, winning Women’s RS:X races. The British racer, who picked up bronze at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, has amassed six of nine race victories. Her outstanding performance gives her a 16 point lead over Charline Picon (FRA) going into the Medal Race.

The way Shaw’s been sailing has been a delight to behold but she played it safe on the penultimate day to consolidate her lead, “I feel like I’ve sailed a good series and people today were just going for it. I was trying to play it conservatively and just wrap the week up. We’ll see how I go tomorrow. We’re inside tomorrow so it’s something completely different from the whole week but it’s the same group of good girls so I’ll try and see it with fresh eyes.”

Shaw has a medal wrapped up with gold likely whilst the same can be said for Picon who has an unassailable advantage over the third placed Blanca Manchon (ESP). Manchon herself has an excellent advantage over the fourth placed Hei Man Chan going into the Medal Race.

Shaw’s stablemate Izzy Hamilton revelled in the flatter water conditions on the windsurfing course today, adding a race win and a second to her scorecard, but in overall 14th it wasn’t quite enough to boost her into the final medal race positions.

The Women’s RS:X will kick start the final day at 09:45 local time.

Nacra 17

Moana Vaireaux and Manon Audinet (FRA) drew within six points of Nacra 17 leaders Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA).

The teams battled it out on the race track, fighting tooth and nail for places in a highly talented fleet. The final race of the saw close quarter combat between the French teams, as they fought for supremacy. “In the last race you never knew what would happen between us,” said Besson, “the upwind mark is very close to the shore and it was very shifty but we arrived first for the last rounding and we didn’t know what was going to happen.

“We arrived first and there was no wind and we were waiting and they just tacked in front of us and we were like, come on let’s go. You never know what’s going to happen but that’s racing.”

Besson and Riou went on hot pursuit of their compatriots but Vaireaux and Audinet had the edge with a head start. They took the final race victory by nine seconds and nonetheless Besson and Riou had no sour grapes, “The French team is a big family and we are happy to be here. We do the best we can every day. It’s a good spirit inside the French team.

“I really don’t know what will happen tomorrow but with the Medal Race on the inside course [by the Corniche] it could be a big surprise.”

Besson and Riou top the leaderboard on 24 points whilst their compatriots follow on 30. Matias Buhler and Nathalie Brugger (SUI) complete the podium on 38 points, one point ahead of Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank (AUT).

Britain's Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves made the medal race cut in their first international outing since joining forces last month, heading into the final day in eighth place with teammates Lucy Macgregor and Andrew Walsh qualifying two places ahead of them in sixth.

Groves, 25, made the transition from one hull to two having switched from crewing in the 49erFX class, and says her first international outing at this ISAF Sailing World Cup Final has proved a baptism of fire: “It’s been an experience so far – I’ve been thrown in at the deep end with the top best boats in the Nacra fleet, so it’s been interesting but I’m loving the challenge, it’s been good fun.

"It was easier in the flat water [today]. The chop makes things pretty entertaining with two hulls, we’ve got a boat which I’m not used to, the hulls flex quite a lot and throw you all over the place with the chop. Trimming the mainsheet’s much harder – everything’s much harder playing the waves!”

Team mate Macgregor agreed that Saturday’s conditions for the multihull fleet provided a welcome change to those experienced on previous days: "It’s been nice to have had a really good mix on all three days. It’s been some really good training actually in terms of the long term, to be able to race everyone in those different steps of breeze and different sea states. We’ve had a really good few days.”


New Zealand’s Alex Maloney and Molly Meech will take a 15 point lead into the 49erFX Medal Race after another fantastic racing day. The Kiwis have guaranteed themselves a medal with the colour to be decided on the final day. But with such a strong lead, Sweden’s Lisa Ericson and Hanna Klinga, who are second, will be hard pressed to reduce the deficit with the Kiwis in such imperious form.

Italy’s Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich are 18 points off Ericson and Klinga in third. They will be relying on the Swedish to finish dead last and take the race victory themselves to move up to silver. Nina Keijzer and Claire Blom (NED) are three points off the Italians in fourth.


Polish superheroes Tomasz Januszewski and Jacek Nowak have been doing everything right in the 49er to maintain their lead going into the final day. Whilst their day was somewhat of a mixed bag with scores of 4-13-8, they can feel pleased to hold a five point lead over Marcus Hansen and Josh Porebski (NZL).

Spain’s Carlos Paz and Anton Paz, Beijing 2008 Olympic gold medallist, are tied on 50 points with Julien d'Ortoli and Noé Delpech of France in third.

Three British pairings will battle it out in the ten-boat 49er medal races on Sunday. John Pink admitted that he and Stuart Bithell didn’t get off the start line very well in their three races on Saturday, picking up 10,2,14 for their efforts, which puts them in fifth place and four points from the medal spots heading into the final day.

Dave Evans-Ed Powys were back in action today after a collision and subsequent hospital visit for Evans saw them retire from Friday’s racing. They’re placed sixth, with a race win among their three scores for Saturday, with Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign in seventh overall.

Men’s 470

Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) hold firm in the Men’s 470 on 10 points following a pair of second place finishes. Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) picked up the opening race win of the day and trail the Australians in second on 16 points. Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) secured the final victory of the day and as a result, climb up to third overall.

Women’s 470

Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar (AUT) hit the Race Committee boat in the opening Women’s 470 race and subsequently retired as Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) took the gun. The second victory went the way of Japan’s Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka who move up to third.

The Austrians maintain their lead on nine points with China’s Shasha Chen and Haiyan Gao holding on to second with 15 points. The Japanese team are two points off their Chinese rivals.

Weguelin and McIntyre will be pushing for the podium spots in the finale, currently in fifth but just one point from the third and fourth placed Japanese and American crews.


Slovenia’s Vasilij Zbogar has maintained his high level of sailing throughout the week and notched up a second and a third to take a 15 point lead into the Medal Race.

Zbogar, an Athens 2004 Olympic bronze medallist and Beijing 2008 Olympic silver medallist in the Laser, has been outstanding throughout the six race series. The Abu Dhabi breeze has suited his sailing style, height and weight and he has revelled in his surroundings.

It was a hard day for Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) following a collision with Ed Wright (GBR). Gaspic failed to complete the race and was unable to sail the second. As of 18:30 the Croatian sits fifth overall after he filed a protest against Wright.

As it stands, Caleb Paine (USA) occupies second overall after a solid performance whilst young Jake Lilley (AUS) sits in third.

Laser Radial

Just one point separates Belgium’s Evi Van Acker and Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindom in the Laser Radial heading into the final day.

The Belgian, a London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, and Danish racers traded blows on the penultimate day taking a win and a second apiece with minimal separation on the race track. Rindom came out flying in the opening race and took the lead from the start and she never looked back, sealing the deal by over 30 seconds over Van Acker.

Van Acker was dominant in the second race of the day, demonstrating exceptional downwind speed throughout to pull away from the pack.

As it stands Van Acker holds the lead on 11 points with Rindom on 12. Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) and Alison Young (GBR) are in the hunt behind the leading pair on 22 points but will likely fight their own battle on the final day.

“Wow, what a really nice day,” beamed Van Acker after racing. “I really wasn’t expecting this when coming to Abu Dhabi so yea, wow. It was a really nice day, really fun sailing with really big waves, nice breeze and how it should be every day.

“For me it was a good day. I was second in the first race but it didn’t go so well. I was lucky to be really fast on the downwind so that made me some gains. In the second race I was good from the beginning and got the lead and kept on extending it. I am really happy.”

Rindom was quick to echo her rivals thoughts on the days racing, “I like the weather, it’s so much better than Denmark at this time of year,” smiled Rindom, “I actually thought there was going to be no wind here but the conditions are so good.

“It was a brilliant day, I love the conditions and we had two good races which were done really fast by the Race Committee and the wind was perfect.”

The level of competition in the Laser Radial fleet has been exceptional. World Champions in their numbers have battled it out over three days and now it all comes down to Sunday’s Medal Race.

With double points on offer the game is wide open and Van Acker knows it’s going to be tough, “I think I will just sail my own race. It’s one point so you can’t really do a lot. It’s also quite close behind us so it’s not like we have a 20 point lead over the rest. It will be really tricky and on the inside course [just off the Corniche] it will be really hard but I’m happy with my day and hoping to continue that tomorrow.”

Rindom also remains wary, playing down her chances, “I don’t know how I’ll go into tomorrow yet, I have to go home and figure out what the points are. I can imagine there are some girls behind going for the win so we will just have to see.”

World #1 Tom Burton and Matt Wearn are flying the Australian flag high in the Laser fleet at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi, UAE, occupying the top two spots in the ultra-competitive fleet.
Burton has been the standout performer of the week, recording three victories from six races. He leads on 11 points but his young compatriot, training partner, room-mate and rival Wearn piled on the pressure with an outstanding day on the water to pull within nine points.
Burton secured the opening race victory over Wearn by the narrowest of margins. Although Burton’s lead seemed comfortable at the midway point of the race Wearn pushed hard to reduce the margin to two seconds at the final mark. Burton managed to hold on, narrowly, to take a slender victory.
Wearn ramped things up in the final race ahead of Sunday’s deciding Medal Race and picked up an emphatic race win, finishing 60 seconds ahead of Jesper Stalheim (SWE). The result pulled the young Australian within reach of Burton and he was a happy sailor at the close of play, “I finally found some form,” smiled Wearn. “I definitely needed it to get into that area to try and push for the top three. It’s a bit of a shock to be up in second to be honest as the racing has just been so close in the Laser.
“With just 20 boats and one dropped score after six races anything can happen. But that’s the way it is.”
Burton and Wearn are sharing a room in Abu Dhabi and it will be a case of ‘what goes on, on the race track, stays on the race track’ on the final day. “I’m sure we’ll have a good time tonight,” joked Burton. “There will be a bit of banter and stuff like that but it’s good to see an Australian one two.”
“Matt and I train together a lot. I competed against [Tom] Slingsby in the regatta before he won the Olympic gold and I know how good a feeling it was for me to be just behind him. We train together so this will make for some good memories when we train this Australian summer.”
Medal racing in a highlight competitive fleet is nothing new to Burton who has made the cut in all events he’s competed at throughout 2014, picking up an abundance of medals along the way. For Wearn he has not faced off against all of the best Laser sailors in the world but goes in with no fear, “Tom’s got a bit more experience than me in Medal Race situations but I think I’ll go out there and just go for it. If I can win the race then anything can happen.
“It would be pretty big to finish on the podium. I had a bad regatta at the worlds so to get the confidence back up and get back into the groove of the Laser class would be really good.”
An Australian one two is certainly on the cards but Tonci Stipanovic (CRO), Francesco Marrai (ITA) and Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) are all within touching distance. Nonetheless the ever confident Burton remains upbeat, “Depending on what the conditions are we will see what we can do. I’ll see what the conditions are like tomorrow. I think that maybe there will be some more breeze and inside here [just off of the Corniche] it should be interesting.”

Open Kiteboarding

Young Oliver Bridge (GBR) dominated the kiteboarding heats winning every single one of his races. Bridge, Asian and European Champion has been a class above his competitors and will head into the semi final as one of the favourites.

2014 World Champion Maxime Nocher (FRA) and 2013 World Champion Florian Gruber (GER) also picked up victories in their flights and will be aiming to advance to the final.

Two semi-finals will be held with five racers in each. Places 1 and 2 will carry forward ten points, 3 and 4 seven points, 5 and 6 five points, 7 and 8 four points and 9 and 10 three points. Two races in each semi-final will follow with the top two placed sailors in each heading to the final.

From there, it's a four way single race shoot out for the podium spots.

It’s going to be a Super Sunday in Abu Dhabi with all the Medal Races scheduled to take place across one racing area.



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