Wind dies for Olympic Test Event finale
Published on August 22nd, 2019
Enoshima, Japan (August 22, 2019) – The final day at Ready Steady Tokyo, the official Sailing test event for Tokyo 2020, ended in a whimper as light winds kept racing to a minimum. After five events concluded yesterday, just one Medal Race could be sailed today.
Only the 470 Women’s Medal Race went ahead, starting just after 16:00 local time, and it was French duo Camille Lecointre and Aloise Retornaz who clinched gold. The results for the remaining four events remained unchanged, awarding gold medals to Hungary, Sweden, Belgium, and Australia.
Wind speeds did not top 8 knots all day, with a dying 5-knot breeze present in the afternoon which began to decrease towards the end of the 470 Women’s race.
Racing in the Finns had already been abandoned for the day, while the Laser Radials managed to start a race but had to abandon it halfway through. The Lasers and 470 Men went out onto the water with good intentions, but the decision was soon made to call off all racing for the day.
Ahead of the 470 Women’s Medal Race, Lecointre and Retornaz led Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) in a reverse scenario to the recent Hempel World Cup Series Final in Marseille.
Agnieszka Skrzypulec and Jolanta Ogar (POL) were 10 points off in third, with home favourites Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka (JPN) and Silvia Mas and Patricia Cantero (ESP) still in with a chance of a medal.
With just a point between the French and the British, it all came down to the Medal Race – and it was the French who executed a perfect performance. They won the race to extinguish any chance of losing gold, and the rest of the podium line-up remained unchanged, with silver and bronze going to Great Britain and Poland respectively.
“We are really happy to win here one year before the Olympics,” said Lecointre. “It was a very tough situation; the points were tight and anything could happen. There was pressure for the Medal Race, but very quickly we got in front, and then we could breathe a bit more.”
“It was a long day; we wanted to go sailing and when we arrived on the water it was a new wind we didn’t know,” added Retornaz. “We have a lot of training ahead of us – we know already what we want to work on.”
The Laser Radial Medal Race was also shaping up to be an interesting contest, with Emma Plasschaert (BEL) leading reigning Olympic champion Marit Bouwmeester (NED) by only three points and Maria Erdi (HUN) six behind in third. A decision to abandon all racing came shortly after their Medal Race attempt was abandoned, confirming gold for Plasschaert.
“We went out but it was already quite marginal,” the Belgian explained. “We started a race but throughout the downwind it started to die out, and we rounded the gate with no wind, so they made a fair call to abandon it. It’s a shame we couldn’t finish it because I was in a good position, but they made the right call.”
On her test event victory, she added: “I’m feeling really stoked – we’ve been working towards this event for the full year, so it’s nice to confirm we’re on the right track. I’ve never really been in a position where I’ve worn the yellow bib on the last few days, so for me it was a test to handle my nerves, and I’m happy with how I handled myself.”
Points were close in the Laser fleet, too; Jesper Stalheim (SWE) had a three-point lead over Rio 2016 gold medallist Tom Burton (AUS), with Hermann Tomasgaard (NOR) two points behind the Aussie, and Matt Wearn (AUS) and Sam Meech (NZL) also in with a shout.
Stalheim admitted he was fairly relieved about not risking losing the gold medal with a light-wind race.
“I didn’t really want to race in zero knots with four guys that could beat me, so it’s nice they called it off for me!” he joked. “When they put the D flag up there was good wind. We weren’t waiting on the water for too long, but we saw quite soon that there wasn’t any wind for the Radials, and I was fairly certain they would call it up.
“I’m really happy. A medal is always the aim but I wanted to put on a good result more for myself. I was leading the Worlds for a couple of days but then I put in a couple of bad races, so it was nice to put one entire event together.”
The 470 Men was one of the more clear-cut medal scenarios, with only the top three having a realistic chance of a medal.
Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) were only two points ahead of Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergström (SWE), with early fleet leaders Jordi Xammar and Nicolas Rodriguez (ESP) 11 points off second.
Gold for the Aussies, silver medalists at Rio 2016, meant they sealed their second consecutive title on these waters in a matter of weeks after their World Championship victory.
“It’s great to be able to win this event – it’s always pretty challenging to be able to put In a good performance on Olympic waters,” said Belcher. “Will and I did our Worlds only two weeks ago, so to come to this event, continue our development and work on key areas was nice, and it was really special to win another medal here.
“We didn’t do much differently but we are trialling different things and did change a few things from the Worlds, so it’s been great to use this period to work on that. We are just enjoying the conditions here – this week was different to the Worlds and every day we are here during this period will be valuable in the long run.”
Zsombor Berecz (HUN) had already wrapped up gold in the Finn fleet, so the battle for silver between Nicholas Heiner (NED) and Giles Scott (GBR) was decided by AP over A, with the Dutchman taking second place ahead of the reigning Olympic champion.
“It’s great to win any regatta but the test event is special,” said 2018 world champion Berecz. “We didn’t spend a lot of time here so it’s especially good – we had almost every kind of condition and I managed to perform every day.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us but I would say if we don’t make any mistakes in the next year and everything goes to plan, then I will be happy and prepared for the Games. I’m very happy with how we are doing and how we have been performing in the past few weeks.”
Following Ready Steady Tokyo – Sailing is the Hempel World Cup Series in Enoshima, with the sailors involved taking a few days’ break before the competition is held August 27 to September 1.
Source: World Sailing
Top North Americans:
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser: 12th Charlie Buckingham (USA)
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial: 7th Sarah Douglas (CAN)
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470: 4th Stu McNay/ David Hughes (USA)
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470: 16th Nikole Barnes/ Lara Dallman-Weis (USA)
Men’s Skiff – 49er: 16th Andrew Mollerus/ Ian MacDiarmid (USA)
Women’s Skiff – 49erFx: 10th Stephanie Roble/ Maggie Shea (USA)
Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy – Finn: 17th Tom Ramshaw (CAN)
Men’s Windsurfing – RS:X: 20th Pedro Pascual (USA)
Women’s Windsurfing – RS:X: 18th Farrah Hall (USA)
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17: 19th Riley Gibbs/ Anna Weis (USA)
USA Team roster… click here.
Racing in Enoshima commenced on Saturday August 17. The 49er, 49erFX, Nacra 17, and RS:X fleets will conclude racing on August 21 with the 470s, Laser, Laser Radial, and Finns following on August 22.