Olympic Season Wraps Up in Abu Dhabi
Published on November 1st, 2015
Abu Dhabi, UAE (November 1, 2015) – Australia’s Mat Belcher and Will Ryan led the gold rush as the 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup Final reached its conclusion in Abu Dhabi today. The defending champions underlined their dominance by winning the Medal Race to score a comprehensive second successive Men’s 470 World Cup triumph.
On this occasion, Belcher and Ryan got home by just a second from the young Spanish pairing of Jordi Xammar and Joan Herp to finish 11 points ahead of Sweden’s Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergström who finished second on the last day of the regatta.
The result underlines the Aussies’ position as firm favourites to strike gold at next year’s Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro and adds to Belcher’s haul of six world titles, three won in tandem with Ryan.
After racing Belcher commented, “It’s been a long week with difficult conditions to sail in, but it’s been great to race in the morning. We have had some tough competition and there hasn’t been much rest since the worlds. We knew everyone was in top form and highly motivated so we are happy to get the win.”
It also added to the reputation of their Ukrainian-born coach, Victor Kovalenko, known as “The Medal Maker,” who has guided the winners of nine Olympic medals – six golds – and 18 world championships. Americans Stuart McNay and David Hughes, 6th on the day, took the 470 bronze.
“Small fleet racing, like we had in Abu Dhabi, is a very important skill for the Olympics,” McNay noted. “The Olympic fleet is small, so this was similar in that respect. Also, a key part of winning a medal in the Olympics is sealing the deal in the medal race itself. For the medal race at this event, we entered in podium position and finished on the podium, so ‘mission accomplished’ in that sense. It was great to get bronze. We had hoped for better, and winning was within our grasp, but we had a breakdown and retired from a race earlier the week.”
“We are excited by another podium finish at the World Cup Finals,” shared Hughes. “Of course, we are always looking for more. At various stages of the Medal Race we were winning the event overall, and also potentially out of the medals, so the racing remained tight until the very end. This medal, added to our wins at the World Cup in Weymouth and the Europeans Championships has made this year truly successful; however, our real goal is to answer with our career best year in 2016. Unfortunately, a breakdown took us out of a race 4, setting us back for the event as that instantly became our drop.”
Third position in the Women’s 470 medal race was enough to leave Britain’s Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark celebrating gold from last year’s World Cup winners in Abu Dhabi, Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar.
The Austrians were second on the day in a race won by Akiyo Yamaguchi and Eri Hatayama, although it was another Japanese combination, that of Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka, who collected bronze medals.
There was consolation for Austria in the 49er as Nico Delle-Karth and Nikolaus Resch won the Medal Race following back-to-back race victories the previous day to land the gold with six points to spare over Stefano Cherin and Andrea Tesei.
“It feels amazing to win,” Delle Karth exclaimed. “It has been really tricky all week with the offshore morning breeze, which made the racing super close. We have had really good fun all week. There was a bit of pressure in the medal race and it was open for a number of people to win so it was great to go out and execute under pressure. It was a valuable experience.”
Finishing second on the day, just ahead of the Italian silver medallists, were Frenchmen Gabriel Skoczek and Yann Rocherieux who won bronze.
Croatia’s Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic is the new World Cup champion in the Finn, clinching gold with a 4th place in the Medal Race. Turkey’s Alican Kaynar finished third to claim silver, while victory on the day saw Spain’s Pablo Guitian Sarria edge ahead of Britain’s Edward Wright to take bronze.
With an offshore breeze of 8-13 knots switching to a sea breeze later on, Australian Tom Burton was always in control in the Laser, taking third place in the Medal Race to comfortably secure gold ahead of Cypriot winner on the day, Pavlos Kontides.
A closing sixth place finish was enough to see another Australian, Matthew Wearn, squeeze past five-time Olympic medalist Robert Scheidt to take the bronze after the Brazilian closed with a disappointing ninth.
The battle for gold in the Laser Radial was one of the most intriguing of the World Cup final, and ultimately it went to Sweden’s Josefin Olsson who had trailed Holland’s Marit Bouwmeester by a single point overnight. “This is my first World Cup win so it feels great,” said Olsson, “It’s always good to win the final. It means a lot to be up there and fight it out with the top girls and get a podium position in the end.”
While Olsson finished fourth on the day, Bouwmeester slipped to eighth in the Medal Race. Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindom, first to finish, subsequently collected a penalty but was still able to beat Belgium’s defending champion Evi Van Acker to the bronze medal.
The Men’s RS:X was another which brought a last-day turnaround, with Spain’s Ivan Pastor Lafuente taking the RS:X medal race victory to snatch gold from Brazil’s overnight leader, Ricardo Santos, who slumped to seventh on the day for silver. Great Britain’s Tom Squires won the bronze medal.
Arguably the most impressive performer of the regatta was Britain’s Bryony Shaw who successfully defended her World Cup crown in the RS:X women’s class, winning the medal race for her seventh victory out of 10. Second place on the day gave Italy’s Flavia Tartaglini the silver medal while Brazilian Patricia Freitas finished third to secure the bronze.
Britain’s Oliver Bridge won the decisive medal race to retain his open kiteboarding title and round off the 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup Final at Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club.
Spain’s Florian Trittel collected the silver medal while the bronze went to fellow-countryman Alejandro Climent Hernandez.
Attention now turns to the start of the 2016 ISAF Sailing World Cup series that commences in Melbourne, Australia in the middle of December later this year.
ISAF Sailing World Cup
The ISAF Sailing World Cup (Oct 29-Nov 1) is a world-class annual series for Olympic sailing. It is open to the sailing events chosen for the 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition. Its centre piece is the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The 2015 edition features 144 competitors from 37 countries competing in eight of the ten classes chosen for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, as well as an open kiteboarding competition. The top three finishers in each class will earn a share of a $220,000 USD prize fund. No more than 20 entrants are permitted in each class for this invitation-only event.
The 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup will consist of five regattas for all ten Olympic events and where possible, Formula Kite Racing. Qualification places for the ISAF Sailing World Cup final are up for grabs at each event. The final will bring together the top 20 boats in each Olympic event and an Open Kiteboarding event where the World Cup Champions will be crowned.
2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup
Melbourne – 7-14 December 2014
Miami – 25-31 January 2015
Hyères – 20-26 April 2015
Weymouth and Portland – 8-14 June 2015
Qingdao – 14-20 September 2015
2015 Final Abu Dhabi – 27 October to 1 November 2015
Report by ISAF media.