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Wrapping up the 2014 ISAF Sailing Worlds

Published on September 21st, 2014

Occurring once every Olympic quadrennium, the ISAF Sailing World Championships is the principal qualification event for the Olympic Sailing Competition. Before a sailor can compete in the Olympics, someone from their country must first perform at a high enough level to claim one of the limited country slots in each of the 10 Olympic events.

Aside from the country qualifier for the Olympics, the ISAF Worlds is where each of the class world titles would be determined. This proved to be a challenge for the organizers. The requirements to host one World Championship are daunting enough, but to hold 10 at one time is a task of epic proportions.

When inconsistent winds plagued the early days of the event, either too light or too strong, organizers struggled to take advantage of small weather windows. Shuffling classes on and off the water, moving them among the eight course areas, competitors endured long days with long delays and little racing to show for it.

But as bad as it was at times, it was bad for everyone, and poor race management became just one more variable the sailors had to overcome. Who did it best? Here’s a roundup of the 10 events during the September 12-21 event…

Laser and Laser Radial – September 18
These titles were decided on day 7 of the ISAF Worlds, and it was a showcase of the Dutch prowess in the men’s and women’s singlehander. Marit Bouwmeester (NED) closed out a dominating regatta for the win, while Nicholas Heiner (NED) bullet in the Medal Race pushed him to the top.

Men’s and Women’s RS:X – September 19
Much like the Dutch domination in the singlehander, the French team took both titles in the boardsailing event on day 8. Charline Picon (FRA) had sealed her victory prior to the Medal Race, while the men’s Medal Race saw a slurry of OCS and DPI penalties ease the path for leader Julien Bontemps (FRA) to confirm his win.

Men’s and Women’s 470 – September 20
After finishing 2nd in 2013, Austria’s Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar won the Medal Race to seal an 11 point win for this women’s team. On the men’s side, Australia’s 2012 Olympic gold medalist skipper Mat Belcher now with crew Will Ryan saw the duo claim their second consecutive title, and Mat’s fifth straight World victory.

49er and 49erFX – September 21
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) closed out a dominating year, sealing the victory before the Medal Race to claim their second consecutive World title. On the women’s side, the margin of victory was much tighter, as Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) finished ahead of European Champions Ida Nielsen and Marie Olsen (DEN) in the Medal Race to tie, with the Brazilians winning their first World title on countback.

Finn and Nacra 17 – September 21
These two titles were confirmed a day earlier with insurmountable margins prior to the Medal Race. This should come as no surprise, however, as both Giles Scott (GBR) in the Finn and Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA) in the Nacra 17 had been the dominating their events all year. After intermittently sailing in the class since his World’s win in 2011, Scott won 5 of the 9 races to claim his second World title. For the French team, this is the second world championship held for the Nacra 17 class, and Besson/Riou have won both of them.

Medal Count
With 10 events and 30 medals, 17 nations came away with at least one podium appearance. Among those countries, seven claimed multiple medals: Australia (4), Britain (4), France (4), Croatia (2), Denmark (2), Netherlands (2), and New Zealand (2).

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