French double

Damien Iehl and Claire Leroy win their divisions at the conclusion of the Nation's Cup.

Monday March 30th 2009, Author: ISAF, Location: United Kingdom
In Porto Alegre, Brazil France have again proved themselves a nation of match racing excellence as the teams of Damien Iehl (FRA) and Claire Leroy (FRA) both came back from 1-0 deficits to win the Open and Women's divisions, repeating the double French success at the last Nations Cup in 2006. The world's top match racing nations have been put to the test through a series of Regional Finals held around the globe and this week's Grand Final in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and again it is the French who have prevailed in both competitions.

Iehl and his team of Dévan Le Bihan, Frederic Guilmin and François Verdier started the final day of the ISAF Nations Cup Grand Final 1-0 down to home favourite Henrique Haddad of Brazil, and that soon became 2-0 as the Brazilians won the first tie of the day. However the French skipper, ranked #7 in the world, turned the tie around to triumph 3-2.

Iehl, ranked 73 places above Haddad in the World Rankings, had nothing but praise for his fellow finalist, "the Brazilian crew is young, but are excellent sailors," said the French skipper. Reflecting on his comeback from a 2-0 deficient in the final, Iehl said concentration was key, "It's not easy to compete in this situation, but we focused and got there", he said.

Despite the disappointment of losing after taking a 2-0 advantage, Haddad and the Brazilian team stood out for their massive achievement in reaching the final. Haddad, from Rio, paid tribute to the role the home supporters played in their success, "We lack experience, but achieved a good result. My crew showed great determination and the support of fans was important to us," he said.

In the women's final, Leroy, also the reigning World Champion and world #1 ranked women's skipper, was defending the Nations Cup title she won in 2006. Although she also went into Saturday 1-0 down in her final with Lucy Macgregor of Great Britain, Leroy turned things around, winning the 2009 ISAF Nations Cup Women's title by a 3-1 scoreline.

Again Leroy and her crew of Elodie Bertrand, Marie Riou and Claire Pruvot have proven themselves the leading lights of the women's match racing world. Leroy has now held the #1 spot in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings for over three years, and won the last two editions of both the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship and the ISAF Nations Cup. With women's matching racing making its debut on the Olympic programme at London 2012, the 29 year old French skipper is the early favourite for gold.

True to form, Leroy was quick to point to the success of the team as a whole and pay tribute to her crews members. "It's great," she said. "I'm satisfied with myself and my team Elodie Bertrand, Marie Riou and Claire Pruvot, and I thank all my opponents for this intensive week".

In the two petit finals, Denmark took the bronze medal in the Open division as Mads Ebler defeated Alvaro Marinho (POR) 2-1. Bronze in the Women's division went to the USA as Beijing Olympic gold medallist Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) overcame Giulia Conti of Italy 2-0.

Following on from the racing, the Prize Giving and Closing Ceremony were held at the Veleiros do Sul sailing club on Saturday evening, attended by the teams, representatives from Confederação Brasileira de Vela e Motor and Veleiros do Sul Associação Náutica Desportiva, Grand Final sponsors Volvo-Banrisul and ISAF Vice-President Teresa Lara (VEN). ISAF Medals in Gold, Silver and Bronze were presented to, respectively, the teams finishing in first, second and third in both the Open and Women's divisions. The final act of the fifth edition of the ISAF Nations Cup was the presentation of the Open and Women's trophies to the French teams of Iehl and Leroy.

Final Standings

1. Damien Iehl (FRA)
2. Henrique Haddad (BRA)
3. Mads Ebler (DEN)
4. Alvaro Marinho (POR)
5. Manuel Weiller Vidal (ESP)
6. Mahesh Ramchandran (IND)
7. Adrian Short (NZL)
8. Dave Perry (USA)
9. Juan Figueroa (ARG)
10. Jon Eriksson (FIN)

1. Claire Leroy (FRA)
2. Lucy Macgregor (GBR)
3. Anna Tunnicliffe (USA)
4. Giulia Conti (ITA)
5. Nircky Souter (AUS)
6. Juliana Senfft (BRA)
7. Rita Goncalves (POR)
8. Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen (DEN)
9. Cecilia Ruiz Barlett (ARG)

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