Big swell dominates Vilamoura International Regatta

Published on April 24th, 2021

Vilamoura, Portugal (April 24, 2021) – The sixth and final day at the 2021 ILCA Vilamoura International Regatta provided tough conditions, pushing the strength of the Laser sailors chasing the Olympic qualifications and the podium.

After all 12 races, Spain and the Netherlands locked in their slots for Tokyo in the ILCA 7 class, as the top two out of 17 countries eligible. Spanish sailor Joel Rodriguez Perez finished in 9th place overall, but was the leader for those contending for the Olympic slots.

“We knew it was going to be a close fight. I had a bad day, but the week was better, enough to guarantee today the goal of taking Spain to the Olympic Games,” said Perez.

Duko Bos of the Netherlands was competing most closely with Belgium’s Wannes Van Laer for the second slot to Tokyo. Ultimately, Duko Bos secured the Olympic qualification for the Netherlands. However, he was not the one selected to compete in Tokyo for the Dutch.

“It was a tough day, I started well, I was happy with the first race, but the second didn’t go as planned. I tried to recover, and it was enough to qualify the country, but not to be selected, which causes mixed feelings,” Bos shared.

In the end, victory of the ILCA 7 fleet went to German Philipp Buhl, who rose to the top of the fleet after a stellar day of racing today. “Today was exhausting, but I did well with a second and first place. It was really hard but fun at the same time. In the last race, I gave my best, as a matter of fact like everyone else. I’m very happy to have won,” said Buhl.

The difference between first place and second place in the ILCA 7 fleet was only one point, with silver going to Brazil’s Robert Scheidt, just one point behind Buhl. Great Britain’s Michael Beckett rounded out the podium in third after a solid performance all week at the event.

In the ILCA 6 fleet, the two Olympic slots had been secured earlier this week for Israel by Shay Kakon and Portugal by Carolina João, so attention was focused on the podium today. Denmark’s Olympian and World Champion Anne-Marie Rindom was the winner by 39 points after having maintained first place all week long. Silver went to Josefin Olsson of Sweden who finished five points ahead of Japan’s Manami Doi, who claimed bronze.

The ILCA European Continental Olympic Qualification, organized by Vilamoura Sailing, gathered almost 230 sailors from 44 countries and finished with four more countries headed to Tokyo.

Among the top North Americans, Paige Railey (USA) posted a 27-15 to finish 10th overall while Charlie Buckingham (USA) had a 25-17 to place in 7th position.

“I was mostly happy with my performance,” said Buckingham. “I was especially curious to see how my speed would stack up against the top sailors here after training stateside for the winter and I was happy with with it during this event.

“I definitely left some points on the table throughout the week, but overall I was consistent and put myself at the top of the fleet at the end of the event. I’m looking forward to sharpening up a few areas of my performance and placing higher on the leaderboard next time.”

The large swell proved to be a dominant factor on the racecourse this week, and both Buckingham and Railey are maximizing their time on the water in Europe to prepare for Japan. Railey and her coach, Steve Mitchell, stayed out an extra 90 minutes on the final day of racing just to continue practicing in the waves.

“My downwind legs were very strong this regatta, and I had some promising windward roundings throughout the event, even if a few mistakes pushed the results down a few notches at the finish line,” said Railey. “But overall, these conditions played a crucial role in my final preparations for Tokyo and Steve and I have our work cut out for us to be ready for what Japan will bring.”

Railey and Mitchell will stay in Vilamoura to train with a group of girls also chasing more time in the Japan-like conditions, including this event’s third place ILCA 6 sailor Manami Doi. Railey will compete once again in Vilamoura next month in the ILCA Coach Regatta on May 10-14.

Vilamoura International Regatta featured the last European qualification event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and was held April 19-24.

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