Winners take prize purse at ISAF Sailing World Cup Final
Published on November 30th, 2014
(November 30, 2014) – Racing at the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates has wrapped up with praise in abundance for the venue.
Abu Dhabi has spoilt the 270 competitors from 38 nations over four days of racing. Medal Races across the ten Olympic events and Open kiteboarding brought proceedings to a close in an exciting finale in the Emirati capital.
An 8-12 knot north westerly breeze tested the competitors on the final day of racing as the inaugural event came to a conclusion off of the stunning Corniche.
Prize money was awarded to the top three overall finishers in each of the Olympic events from a total prize purse of US$200,000. Winners received $10,000, with second place getting $6,500 and third place earning $3,500.
Zbogar Reigns Supreme in the Finn
Slovenia’s Vasilij Zbogar reigned supreme in the Finn class and claimed a deserved gold medal in Abu Dhabi.
Having laid down a marker on the opening day with a pair of race victories Zbogar, an Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Olympic medallist, came through in second in the deciding Medal Race to claim the title ahead of Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO).
Gaspic claimed the Medal Race victory but it was not enough after the Slovenian watched him astutely around the race track. “I knew it was going to be very difficult as Bambi [Kljakovic Gaspic] is very good in these conditions,” said Zbogar. “But usually I am good as well. I had an eye on him at the start. I kept near him and matched him.
“I was very nervous this morning as I wanted to win badly. Winning all week, being the leader and then losing it on the last day would have been really bad. I kept my concentration high and pulled it off.”
Caleb Paine (USA) came through in third in the Medal Race, securing bronze.
Burton Delivers Knockout Blow to Laser Fleet
Australia’s Tom Burton added ISAF Sailing World Cup Final gold to his 2014 medal haul that includes top honours at World Cup Mallorca and Hyeres.
Burton has been a class apart in the Laser throughout 2014 and delivered a knockout blow on the final day in Abu Dhabi. He grabbed the Medal Race lead from the start and never looked back storming to take the gun and with it, the title of ISAF Sailing World Cup Final Champion.
“It was good racing conditions with flat water and a nice breeze,” commented Burton after racing, “No one got stuck and left behind but there were a lot of yellow flags flying around a bit across the three laps. I got a bit lucky, like you need to in these races and came away with the win.”
Burton had a nine point advantage over compatriot Matt Wearn coming into the Medal Race which gave him some breathing space, “The point’s buffer made it a little bit easier. It’s always tricky in these races so a point’s buffer takes a little bit of pressure off. But you have to go out there and plan to race to win. That’s what I did and got a good shift up the first beat and lead all the way round.
“I came here with a plan to win. It was my sister’s wedding yesterday so it’s nice to win for her. I thought I sailed well here and it’s nice to finish the year with a win.”
An Aussie one two was on the cards heading into the day with the youngster Wearn occupying second overall. However his more experienced rivals Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) and Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) drew upon their years of experience.
Stipanovic came through in fourth to move up to second whilst a third for Bernaz was enough for him to take bronze. Wearn came through in eighth which saw him drop down to fifth overall but the experienced gained from the regatta will be invaluable looking ahead.
‘Best Sailing Week of My Life’ For Van Acker in the Laser Radial
Evi Van Acker (BEL) praised Abu Dhabi as she put in a professional showing in the Laser Radial Medal Race, taking the race win and ISAF Sailing World Cup Final glory.
The Belgian took the lead from the start and held it through to the finish to end an amazing week, “Overall, this has been one of the best sailing weeks I have had in my life and I’ve been doing this for quite a while,” said the London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist. “I’m really happy and thankful to be here.
“I think it’s a really good idea and everybody had a lot of fun. The conditions were really nice and much nicer than we all expected. We had some really nice sailing outside and inside with different conditions and close racing.”
Van Acker had a narrow one point lead over Anne Marie Rindom (DEN) going into the Medal Race but got off to a great start that handed her lead. Van Acker was able to extend as her nearest competitor, Tuula Tenkanen (FIN), kept up with her pace yet stayed out of the way.
“I was a bit nervous before the start,” explained Van Acker. “You know one point between us meant there was a lot to lose. I had good tactics. Me and Tuula went quite far in front from the start so we could play our own game. The rest were quite far behind so for me it was a really nice race and nice to win the regatta.”
Tenkanen finished behind Van Acker and pushed up into the silver medal position. Rindom ended up eighth which relegated her to third overall.
Poland’s Januszewski and Nowak Take First Major 49er Honours
It was a week of hard graft for the 49er fleet with no team able to take a stranglehold across the series. In the end Tomasz Januszewski and Jacek Nowak (POL) kept hold of their overnight lead with a Medal Race tenth to secure their first major title.
The Polish team have regularly found themselves in the middle of the fleet but found what they’ve been striving for in Abu Dhabi, “All throughout the year we have been fighting,” explained Nowak, “We were very confident but our results didn’t give us what we wanted so our hunger grew bigger and bigger. At this event we made it to where we wanted to be. We are very satisfied.
“We are feeling great because this is the end of our season. This kind of regatta is the first issue of it and it was great to be here in Abu Dhabi and to win it, against the best, it makes us very happy.
“We like racing in places we like. In Abu Dhabi there’s a great atmosphere which made us very confident, we like it here.”
Carlos Paz and Beijing 2008 Olympic gold medallist Anton Paz (ESP) were able to claim silver with a fourth in the Medal Race. John Pink and Stu Bithell (GBR) took a third to pick up bronze. For Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign (GBR), their race win wasn’t enough to propel them into the medal positions.
Kiwi Smiles in the 49erFX
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) rounded off a great week by claiming a Medal Race fourth and with it, 49erFX ISAF Sailing World Cup Final glory.
Consistency has been the name of the Kiwis game and only a tenth from the opening day scars a sublime scoreline of top four finishes.
After racing they were two happy sailors even though they didn’t perform how they would have liked, “We’re pretty happy but today was quite a hard day. Not exactly what we planned to do but I’m glad we did exactly what we needed to do.”
The Kiwis had a 15 point lead over Lisa Ericson and Hanna Klinga (SWE) coming into the day so they knew what was required of them to take victory. They remained fairly steady on the race track with the Swedes unable to pose a major threat. The Swedes picked up silver whilst a Medal Race second for Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich (ITA) handed them bronze.
Abu Dhabi has spoilt the competitors throughout the four racing days and the gold medallists were quick to praise the Emirati capital, “It’s been pretty amazing sailing conditions here,” said Meech. “A lot better than I expected and the venues been great. Quite a few of the top girls have been here and the racing’s been really nice.”
Maloney added, “It was a really cool event and we’re happy to come away with the win. The competition’s been really good. Abu Dhabi’s been a beautiful place to sail, the water’s really clear and it’s been amazing.”
Maloney and Meech will look to qualify to return to next year’s edition through the ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas and the rankings system across the 2015 season. But for now, they’re looking forward to some time back in their native lands. Maloney concluded, “We go home for December and have a good block in New Zealand and then we’ll take a nice break over Christmas and New Year and then we’ll be in Miami for the ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta there for the first time.”
Giard Covers Kokkalanis to Seal Men’s RS:X Title
Louis Giard (FRA) took a single point lead over Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) into the Men’s RS:X Medal Race and did exactly what was needed to claim gold by taking the race victory.
The young Frenchman has excelled in Abu Dhabi and knew he had to beat Kokkalanis across the line to take the honours. He covered Kokkalanis at the start to edge in front and as the race played out he was able to extend. He made it look seamless with a relaxed approach and said, “Maybe that’s the secret. The first day I was like this and it worked very well. Yesterday was difficult for me; I had the yellow jersey so I had some extra pressure on my shoulders. I relaxed today and knew in these conditions I could do something great.
“I am super happy. It’s my first win in the senior fleet so it was a really good day for me. Some of them have some Olympic medals so I tried to have fun and sail well without pressure and enjoy the fact that I am racing in Abu Dhabi. It is a great place and the organisation was perfect. It was a pleasure.”
Kokkalanis came through in third which was enough for silver and he heaped praise on his young competitor after racing, “What can I say? He was really good in this competition. He had one bad day yesterday but today he was really solid. He had a good start and he just had to cover me. That is exactly what he did. He sailed correctly and followed the gusts and he really deserves his gold medal. He was surprisingly good in this competition.
“I feel satisfied to finish the season with one more medal. Having a medal here is really important and I feel happy about it.”
Nick Dempsey sailed astutely to pick up a fifth which gave him bronze.
Dominant Shaw Seals The Deal In the Women’s RS:X
Bryony Shaw (GBR) converted her outstanding week of racing into ISAF Sailing World Cup Final gold on the final day of racing in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The British racer has been flawless throughout the series and took a 16 point lead into the Medal Race. The Beijing 2008 Olympic bronze medallist put in an assured, astute performance coming through in second to claim the honours.
“I am really pleased that I’ve had such a convincing win here,” said Shaw with a beaming smile. “It’s been a tough year in that I keep missing out on the podiums. I managed to win in Miami back in the beginning of the year. This being the end of the year it’s nice to be back on top of the podium and I hope I can take that momentum into next year.”
Charline Picon (FRA) had an outside chance of taking gold but knew she would have to force Shaw towards the back of the back and take a win. The pair went head to head as Shaw explained, “There was some really shifty and puffy wind on the first beat and I was keeping my eye on the French girl and I matched her every move which was quite fun. The two of us managed to get the best pressure up the first beat and rounded in first and fourth. I was leading the race and then one of the Chinese girls was sailing a good race and overtook me. I then maintained second all the way round and kept the French girl behind me.
“I just went in with a clear strategy and had an eye on my main rival.”
Picon fought hard to catch Shaw but also had to keep an eye on Blanca Manchon (ESP) who was in third and within touching distance. “I had a good battle with Bryony but I had to keep in front of Blanca to keep silver,” said Picon. “I did a good job by doing that at the start and then I attacked Bryony. But she raced well finishing second with me third so she took gold and I took silver.”
The French racer claimed her first world title a few months ago and came into Abu Dhabi with a reduced training schedule. With minimal time on the water she was buoyed by her performance, “Since the Worlds I only had six days of training. Coming here to discover a new country I did some good work at the start but I didn’t race well so silver is okay.”
Manchon completed the podium whilst the Medal Race victory went the way of Manjia Zheng (CHN) who finishes fourth.
French Nacra 17 Un, Deux, Trois
It was a French one, two and three in the Nacra 17 with their strong teams completely dominating the Abu Dhabi race track.
2013 and 2014 World Champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou claimed the title with a fifth in the Medal Race. They were followed by Audrey Ogereau and Matthieu Vandame who took the Medal Race bullet and Moana Vaireaux and Manon Audinet, who despite finishing last, still secured bronze.
“We are very happy because today was a very hard day,” said Besson. “The positions were changing every time in the Medal Race and we’re happy for not only us but for the French team as we’ve all had very good results. We’ve all been training together throughout the year and to get a result like is no surprise.”
Riou added, “We have a really good French team. We are four teams and we sail together all year. It’s good to get first, second and third for the spirit of the team. We know there was a French team six point behind us so we looked at our strategy and tactics and we always looked at them. We raced our race and pushed a lot.”
Victory Again For Belcher and Ryan in 470 Men
Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) added Men’s 470 ISAF Sailing World Cup Final gold to their impressive haul in 2014. They hold the World and European titles and took the World Cup Final title with a Medal Race fifth.
“The race today was really tricky,” said Ryan. “It was tough racing with big shifts. It was tough to keep control of the fleet but I’m really happy with how the week has been and we’ve enjoyed our time here.”
Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) had a chance to take gold in the Men’s 470 but missed out after they finished sixth. Nonetheless they walk away with silver. Stu McNay and Dave Hughes (USA) picked up the final podium position whilst the race win went to Austria’s David Bargehr and Lukas Mähr.
There has been barely any separation between the fleet across the week and Ryan looked a relieved man after the stresses and strains of elite sailing, “It’s been really tough competition. I think that’s what they expected with this ‘Super Final’. We had six of the top seven from the worlds and it’s exactly what we came for, really good racing and everybody really enjoyed it. A few of the races came down to the final few metres and there was no chance to get any points separation, the intensity of the races showed that.”
In its first year the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final has been widely praised by the 270 sailors as Ryan concluded, “It’s really unique. It’s the first time this event has been hosted and to come away with a win, I couldn’t ask for anymore. This event is a concept that all of us professional sailors have been hoping for in the Olympic scene and it does give that chance for us to be professional. It’s exciting for the future and hopefully we can get more events with more support from places like this. Abu Dhabi has been a fantastic host.”
Ups and Downs in Women’s 470 but Austrians Conquer
It was a game of snakes and ladders in the Women’s 470 Medal Race with game changers aplenty as the leader board was shaken up in a tough Medal Race.
Austria’s Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar (AUT) managed to hang on to take gold despite a final onslaught from Great Britain’s Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre.
In a light challenging breeze and flat water it was anyone’s game. The course was full of gusts and shifts that meant that gold was not decided until Vadlau and Ogar crossed the finish line as the helm explained, “It was so tough, so shifty and so gusty. It was really tricky and even if you were last you were able to climb up. We were pretty good in the first two rounds. On the last downwind there was a gust so it was wide open again. Everyone caught up and we had to keep cool and my head was burning. Somehow we managed it.
“It was incredibly hard. Anything was possible but it’s nice to win. We had such an unbelievable season, the best one ever.”
Weguelin and McIntyre had only been back in the 470 together for a couple of days ahead of the World Cup Final after Weguelin picked up deep vein thrombosis. The pair, who picked up 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami gold, have enjoyed their time together once again and with a Medal Race bullet, they moved up from fifth to second.
“I felt quite fired up and excited this morning. It’s just so exciting to do a Medal Race especially with such a stunning backdrop,” said McIntyre. Weguelin added, “We had a tight Medal Race today we went into it in fifth with USA, Japan and China all really close. Our focus was to just go out there and win the race, and that’s what we did.”
Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka (JPN) went into the day third overall and that’s where they remained with a confident third place. China’s Shasha Chen and Haiyan Gao suffered the consequences of a poor race. A sixth relegated them from the silver medal position to fifth overall.
Bridge Blows Away the Kite Competition
In a four way single race shoot out for the Open Kiteboarding title, Great Britain’s Oliver Bridge used his exceptional speed to blow away the competition.
Bridge has been exciting to watch on the race track with blistering pace that none of his rivals have been able to contend with.
After a tense semi-final Bridge qualified through to the final alongside 2014 World Champion Maxime Nocher (FRA), 2013 World Champion Florian Gruber (GER) and regular podium finisher Florian Trittel (ESP).
In one of the most important races of the year Bridge was relieved to turn his excellent series into gold by taking the victory, “That was pretty intense,” he smiled. “We had two semi-finals and then the final which the winner would take, just on that race. I managed to remain unbeaten in all of my heats and then I won the final so I’m really happy.
“It’s the first time we’ve had the kites in an ISAF event like this. I’ve had good results all year; I managed to win the European Championship so it’s great to end the year with another win, which is a really important one.
“It’s been pretty amazing in Abu Dhabi. We’ve had great conditions and great racing. Some of the days have been intense with short and fast races. It’s been exciting.”
Nocher fought hard to catch Bridge but was unable to match him. He was nonetheless pleased with his week, “The racing today was fantastic today,” said the Frenchman. “In the World Championship the races are usually 15 minutes long but here they’re only 4-5 minutes so it’s intense. I’m very happy to be second but it was a big fight between Ollie.”
Gruber fended off Trittel to complete the podium.
Sailors’ attentions now turn to the 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup series. Melbourne, Australia plays host to the first 2015 Abu Dhabi Final qualification regatta with racing scheduled to commence on December 8, 2014.
Report by ISAF media