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World Titles for Cyprus and Belgium

Published on August 10th, 2018

Aarhus, Denmark (August 10, 2018) – The spotlight today at the Hempel Sailing World Championships Aarhus 2018 was on the singlehanded dinghies as the Laser and Laser Radial classes crowned their 2018 World Champions.


Cyprus’s Olympic hero, Pavlos Kontides, will always remember the Bay of Aarhus. He won gold yesterday a decade after he won the Youth World Championships here.

Victory had looked far from certain and Kontides, 28, looked in real trouble as the race began in brutal 20+ knot winds. The fleet were doing their best to keep the boats flat and as Kontides rounded the top mark in ninth he healed over, taking on water. Australia’s Matt Wearn was sixth, 19 seconds ahead and looked like he might get away.

Wearn, 22, had trailed by just four points going into the medal race and just needed to put a boat between them. But the wind dropped down to 12 knots on the first downwind (from 25 at the start) and Kontides – who became the first-ever Olympic medallist for Cyprus (in any sport) with his silver at the London 2012 Olympics – kept chipping his way back.

He was last at the bottom, but 13 seconds behind Wearn in eighth. The wind increased and by the second upwind the gap was just two seconds and they were into the match racing situation expected from the start. Wearn had Great Britain’s Michael Beckett just metres in front all the way to the line but could not get past him.

“I feel amazing,” Kontides said. “It’s hard having to keep someone like Matt Wearn behind you. The quality of this fleet is so high and so deep that you always have to be at the top of your game.”

Unlike yesterday, the medal races today did not shuffle the deck. Germany’s Philipp Buhl was the only one to break to break into the top three, easily winning his battle with Britain’s Elliott Hanson.

Hanson was last round the first top mark and was already watching bronze slip away when he picked up penalty for rocking downwind. By the first bottom mark, he was 41 seconds behind Buhl and the bronze was gone.

Laser Radial
Emma Plasschaert won Belgium’s first world championship gold in the Laser Radial which meant that along the way she proved that Marit Bouwmeester (NED)is human.

On a bright and breezy day in Denmark’s Bay of Aarhus, the gusty offshore WSW wind had dropped down to 17 knots from the 25 knots for the start of the men in the Laser 40 minutes before.

Plasschaert had started the day 11 points clear and only needed to finish sixth or better in the 10-boat field to make gold hers. In the end, she was fifth, but Bouwmeester was fourth and had never been able to put enough boats between them.

“I knew Marit was so good in these conditions, so I was a little bit afraid she would jump over me,” Plasschaert said. “I’m feeling amazing and overwhelmed to win the World Championship. It’s my first big win, it’s my first gold in a championship.

“I thought it was too windy to go match racing and I’m not that good at it yet.”

For the 24-year-old Plasschaert, it is a breakthrough win in a highly competitive field and reward for a week where she has been the best sailor, never finishing lower than 15th in the huge 60-boat fleets.

“The key to winning here was being consistent,” she said. “The conditions are so tricky, and I just needed to be up there every time. I was trying to have good starts and not be too extreme, but also stay attached to the front group.

“I think over the recent months I have just stepped up my mental game a lot and worked on my on-water strategies.”

For the whole of the Belgium sailing world and particularly, Evi Van Acker, their previous hero, who was in the TV commentary box in Aarhus, it was a moment to savour. Acker retired last year after finishing second to Bouwmeester in the class world championships last year for the second time.

There had been a glimmer of an upset at the top mark after the first upwind. Bouwmeester rounded in third and Plasschaert in eighth, 12 seconds later. The fleet was so compressed, with only 50 metres separating the top eight for large parts of the race, that there were always opportunities for big swings. But Bouwmeester needed to get away at the front and could never manage it.

On the second wind, Plasschaert had come back to sit right on her shoulder and she never let her get away again.

Bouwmeester, 30, clearly found it hard a one to swallow. She starts every regatta as the outstanding favourite. She won gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and at the 2011 World Championships in Perth, Australia and 2014 World Championships in Santander, Spain. She also won the class world championships last year. She made no excuses afterwards of being here as part of her Olympic training cycle. She was here to win.

“I left myself a lot to do, 11 points is a lot,” she said. “She (Plasschaert) has been very consistent. I think I underestimated how difficult it is sailing here and did not spend enough time training here.

“I tried to get on the left side and obviously tried to get ahead. Then she came with me and I thought it was ok, as long we bring it back to the pack hopefully I will get a chance if it gets busy or gusty, but unfortunately, it didn’t turn out my way.

“But to be honest I think this medal race was pretty difficult. I just performed below my own level at the beginning week. So, with all respect for the Belgian girl, I think it’s due to myself that I didn’t win this event.”

The battle for bronze was more intense with just six points separating four boats going into the medal race. Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindom started in third but watched her rivals line-up to take the bronze from her. Canada’s Sarah Douglas had it at the top mark, rounding first with Rindom in sixth. It got worse for the home crowd. Rindom was languishing in eighth after the first downwind and the USA’s Paige Railey was also ahead of her.

But as she had said on the slipway before they headed out into the strong wind, “My nickname is the bulldozer, so they better watch out.” She had hammered her way up to third by the second downwind and bulldozed on to bronze.


Schedule: The top ten in the 49er, 49erFX, and Men’s and Women’s Kite will advance tomorrow to the medal race. Classes having a layday tomorrow before their medal race on August 12 are the Nacra 17 and Men’s and Women’s RS:X.

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Additional classes:

Nacra 17
Only three points separate first and third in the Nacra 17 fleet. It’s very close and all three medals are up for grabs. Ruggero Tita & Caterina Marianna Banti (ITA) lead in the pack, while Nathan & Haylee OuttEridge (AUS) sit in second with only one point separating them and the Italians. Santiago Lange & Cecilia Carranza Saroli (ARG) are third, with a point gap between them and the Australians.

Men’s 49er
No changes in the 49er leaderboard. Croatian brothers, Šime & Mihovil Fantela remain on top and go into the medal race 13 points clear of Tim Fischer and Fabian Graf (GER), who are second. Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel, also from Germany, are third.

Women’s 49erFX
Tanja Frank // Lorena Abicht (AUT) retain their lead in FX, ahead of Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth (GBR) who are doing incredibly well to hold second place. Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Deutz follow closely in third.

The Men’s and Women’s Kiteboard had their layday today, so standings remain the same as yesterday.

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North American Update:
While the event is not completed, the following scores are final: Bora Gulari/ Helena Scutt (USA) are 22nd in the Nacra 17 (13 races), Stephanie Roble/ Margaret Shea (USA) are 25th in the 49erFX (12 races), Chris Rast/ Trevor Burd (USA) are 34th in the 49er (12 races), Ignacio Berenguer (MEX) is 54th in the RS:X M (12 races), Farrah Hall (USA) is 47th in the RS:X W (10 races), and Evan Heffernan (USA) is 16th in the Kiteboard M (19 races).

The Kite fleets were on lay day so Daniela Moroz (USA) remains 1st (16 races) and will compete in the medal race tomorrow.

Five events have finished competing: Paige Railey (USA) and Sarah Douglass (CAN) were 5th and 6th in the Laser Radial (11 races), Charlie Buckingham (USA) was 11th in the Laser (10 races), Tom Ramshaw (CAN) was 5th in the Finn (11 races), Stu McNay/ Dave Hughes (USA) were 7th in the 470 M (11 races), and Nikole Barnes/ Lara Dallman-Weiss (USA) were 37th in the 470 W (7 races).

The Sailing World Championships, held once every four years for all ten Olympic classes, has 1,400 sailors from 85 nations in close to 1,000 boats for competition. There are also two kiteboarding events competing, which along with the Olympic classes, have their competition staggered from August 2 to 12.

In addition to World titles, the event is the first and largest country qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with 40% of the places being decided. For information on how nations qualify for the 2020 Olympics, click here.

Source: World Sailing

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