[Source: ISAF] A light morning northerly breeze picked up as the day went on ensuring a full complement of Medal Races across the ten Olympic events were completed.
The Men’s 470 lead went to and fro all week but Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) held their nerve to add a gold medal to their two silvers from the 2013-2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup series.
Fantela and Marenic played second fiddle to Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente (ARG) at ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao and to Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) at ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne. A disappointing fourth at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami followed before they took their first gold of the series in Mallorca.
Holding a seven point lead going into the Medal Race the Croatians had breathing space as a sixth place sealed the deal. On their victory Fantela said, “In two words, really happy. We worked quite hard this winter, we’ve been to all of the World Cups and we really like that we won. For us this is the hardest race since we started and winning this means a lot to us.”
Fantela added, “Winning here is really special. All week we sailed really good and to end the regatta with such an interesting Medal Race was really fun and we are really happy with our performance.”
An OCS for Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente saw the Argentineans drop out of the top three. Sweden’s Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergstrom were the benefactors of the Argentineans demise and having won the Medal Race they slipped into second.
ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) finished fifth in the Medal Race and whilst they end tied on 72 points with the Swedes they take bronze by nature of count back.
Female ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (NZL) won the Women’s 470 Medal Race and with it gold as they made it three consecutive 200-point regatta wins in a row.
The Kiwis became World Champions in July 2013, took top spot at ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao and added Mallorca honours to their list.
Aleh explained the day, “It was a pretty stressful Medal Race, it went well for us but it was pretty hard work.
“The French were seven points clear of us and we knew we had to get three points between us to beat them. We stayed really close and came out of the start better, from there we just tried to sail the race, get away and get boats in between and we just managed to get enough boats in.
“It took us a while to fire, we were a bit slow at the beginning but we’ve come right by the end.”
France’s Camille Lecointre and Hélène Defrance had held the lead in the Women’s 470 for the large part of the week but came undone on the final day as a sixth knocked them off gold medal position. They were made to settle for silver whilst bronze went to Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR).
2013 49er World Champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) came into the final day with a healthy lead in the 49er. They maintained their consistency to pick up a deserved gold.
With 30 points from three single point races on the cards, anything was possible and even though they came into the final day with a 21 point lead, Burling and Tuke could have been overthrown.
The experienced duo, who also won silver at the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition, were steady all day. After racing Tuke said, “It was really fun. We sailed really well and did what we had to do in the first race after the lead we’d created throughout racing this week. We then managed to get a win and it wasn’t such a great final race but it was a lot of fun.”
Burling echoed his team mate, “We obviously went into the Medal Race with a pretty comfortable margin but we still had a bit of work to do just to finish it off. We managed to do that in the first race and then we had a bit of fun.”
The 2013 49er World Champions are buoyed by their week and head into the remainder of the year full of confidence. Tuke added, “What we’ve got going on is going pretty well and we haven’t been beaten in a while so we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing. We certainly had our work cut out this week but we sailed better and better as it went on.”
There was no change in the remaining podium spots as Jonas Warrer and Peter Lang (DEN) added silver to their ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami gold whilst Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign (GBR) won bronze.
Brazil’s Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze maintained control in the 49erFX to take gold on the final day of racing.
With three single point quick fire races on the 49erFX race course anything was possible. The Brazilians raced steady and in three races they recorded a 5-3-7 to finish seven points clear of Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen (DEN) in silver medal position.
After racing Kunze said, “We are really happy about our week and reached our goal and hope to go to Hyeres and do the same thing there.”
Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth (GBR) picked up bronze.
Great Britain’s Giles Scott found the going tough in the Finn Medal Race as he came through in eighth. Fortunately for the Brit he had a solid advantage heading into the final day and picked up gold.
“The start was particularly good for me and the first beat,” said Scott. “I managed to get Thomas [Le Breton] where I needed him down the wrong end of the line and got on top of him up the first beat and covered him all the way to put him in last.
“Then I had my first of two yellow flags down the first run which put me a bit on the back foot. I got back in contention down the final run to receive another one so it was a bit touch and go but Thomas ended up finishing just one place in front of me which was enough for the win which was great.”
Scott had been strong all week and from nine races secured four victories. Despite the win he wasn’t 100% happy with his final day, “Massive frustration really, especially after having done what I thought was quite a good job early on in the race, to then make two very silly errors is pretty stupid. I was pretty frustrated towards the end but thankful that I had done enough to come away with the regatta win.”
Le Breton finished eight seconds ahead of Scott which was not enough for him to overthrow the Briton. Le Breton’s compatriot and London 2012 bronze medallist Jonathan Lobert ended up in third.
The Medal Race bullet went to Andrew Wills (GBR) who finished in fourth overall.
Having fought hard for valuable points all week Pierre Le Coq (FRA) picked up a deserved victory in the Men’s RS:X.
Le Coq fended off a final assault from race winner Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) and was chuffed with his week,“The Medal Race was really close and we were fighting a lot with all the other guys. The positions were really close right up until the last downwind so it was a really nice fight. I didn’t have a very good start but I used my speed and came back up so I kept my first place.”
Kokkalanis was devastatingly quick on the final downwind as he used every last ounce of strength he had left. Punching his sail to the sound of jubilant admirers he moved up from fifth to second and was thrilled with how things went on the final day, “It was one of the most intense races I’ve had because yesterday I had two really bad races. I came into the Medal Race disappointed. On the downwind I had to give it all and I managed to catch planing so that pushed me into first place and into second overall.
“I’m really happy after yesterday’s bad day.”
Bronze went the way of France’s Louis Giard who finished the Medal Race in third. ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca acted as the French Men’s RS:X qualifier for the Aquece Rio – International Sailing Regatta 2014. The two spots available went to Le Coq and Louis Giard (FRA).
Charline Picon (FRA) came into the Women’s RS:X Medal Race with an unassailable 42 point lead. With gold wrapped up the pressure was off the French sailor and she enjoyed the last race of the regatta, coming in third.
Picon was dominant and was visually delighted with her week following racing, “I’m very happy with the whole competition because I was very consistent. My worst race was ninth. We had all conditions here with planing, no wind and pumping and I’m happy with my work in the winter.”
The fight for the remaining podium spots was on with any one of Lilian De Geus (NED), Blanca Manchon (ESP), Bryony Shaw (GBR) and Flavia Tartaglini (ITA) in with a shout of the medals.
De Geus was the leading sailor of the four going into the Medal Race and managed to hold on to second overall. The Dutch sailor said, “It was a nice battle with Blanca and I managed to stay in second place so I am very happy.” Manchon narrowly finished behind De Geus with bronze going her way.
Billy Besson and Marie Riou went into the Nacra 17 Medal Race with an unassailable 22 point lead and the gold medal sewn up.
With the pressure off the French pair enjoyed the race and came through in second to round up an excellent week as Besson explained, “Today the race was great. We had a lot of points between us and second. Our start was bad but we came back with good racing to finish second.”
On taking another Nacra 17 victory Besson added, “We are very happy to win here because it was a selection for the Olympic test event in Rio. We needed to prove ourselves. Palma was a really good World Cup. I love this place and I’m really happy to win.”
ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami gold medallists Vittorio Bissaro and Silvia Sicouri (ITA) added a World Cup silver to their collection having finished in fifth.
The heat was on for the remaining podium spot. Darren Bundock and Nina Curtis (AUS) did exactly what they needed to do to take bronze and kept the chasing pack at bay. A fourth in the Medal Race meant that they got the job done to walk away with a medal.
Tom Burton (AUS) led the Laser Medal Race from start to finish as he jumped up the leader board to emphatically claim gold.
The ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne winner ventured into the final day third overall and sailed the Medal Race with intent from the word go. Sailing out in front of the chasing pack with clean wind in his sail, the Australian made amends for losing gold on the final day of the 2013 edition.
Immediately after the race finish a delighted Burton said, “My goal coming here was to win. Two years ago I came third and last year I came second and I wanted to keep stepping it up. I was really disappointed to not win here last year with the points I had and I’m really stoked to win it.
“It’s been a tough week and I haven’t been as consistent as I would have liked to have been but I had a good first day of finals to put me back in the game. All the points were pretty close. I wanted to have a good start. I had a really good first beat and all the guys were around me but it was a really close bunch in the end.”
Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) finished the Medal Race in fourth and ended up just a single point behind Burton. Overnight leader Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) fell to third following a ninth.
The Netherlands’ Marit Bouwmeester had gold in the bag going into the Laser Radial Medal Race and sailed with ease on the final day.
A second in the Medal Race wrapped up what was a consistent display of Radial racing in Mallorca. “I’m very happy,” said Bouwmeester. “I managed to do well in all sorts of wind conditions and it’s nice to get that confirmation.”
Evi Van Acker (BEL) engaged with Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) as she set her sights on overthrowing the Finnish sailor from silver medal spot.
It didn’t turn out so well for the Belgian as she finished last in the Medal Race and out of the medal spots. Tenkanen had plenty of points to play with and took a ninth. Great Britain’s Chloe Martin took full advantage and picked up her first World Cup medal.
Attention now turns to the final ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta of the 2013-2014 in Hyeres, France from 19-26 April 2014.