In the Asia Regional Final of the ISAF Nations Cup, Wataru Sakamoto defied home advantage and the rankings to claim the win in Vladivostok and qualify for the Grand Final in Middelfart, Denmark on August 6-10. After three days racing in Platu 25s in stable 6-12 knot south-easterly winds at the Seven Feet Yacht Club on the waters of Amursky Bay, Sakamoto dominated Singapore’s Maximilian Soh in the final on Sunday, reeling off three successive victories. Soh will also get a wildcard to the Grand Final in Middelfart. Japan and Singapore join the USA, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Sweden, Finland, Australia, New Zealand and of course, Denmark in the Open category of the Grand Final. For an elated Sakamoto, coached by Laurie Jury, the winner of the last Nations Cup in 2011, it was third time lucky in Vladivostok. 'For sure, it a surprise to win, in spite of aiming it every time,' Sakamoto said. 'I’m very happy as it is our third time to challenge in Vladivostok and we didn’t succeed to get the golden medal before.' Sakamoto was cautious about his chances in Denmark. 'I’m not sure, of course, but my coach Laurie Jury is the winner of the latest Nations Cup, and he encourages us a lot,' Sakamoto said. 'This Grand Final will be the biggest event for us.' Sakamoto led from the front in the final in three races with no penalties and he gave Soh few opportunities to pass. 'On one hand we are very happy to be second because our aim before we came here was to reach the finals,' Soh said. 'But still we are disappointed to lose the final. '(Middelfart) will be an experience for sure and we will try our best. Everything might happen in sailing. It’s going to be difficult as there will be many top skippers.' The bi-annual Nations Cup is the showcase event for emerging match racing talent and former winners include Ed Baird, the 2007 America’s Cup winning helmsman. Middelfart will doubtless be a good challenge and all the crews will have to adapt quickly to the conditions in this part of the Triangle Region. The Fænøsund out of Middelfart Marina, with its narrow waters, different and strong currents and localised winds make it unique and exciting for the match race crews and overlooking spectators. Vladimir Lipavsky, many people’s pre-regatta favourite, left his charge to the line too late. The Moscow sailor won the third-fourth place play-off 3-0 against Vladivostok’s Ilya Ermakov, but had been well-beaten 3-0 by Soh in the semi-final on Saturday. Sakamoto beat Ermakov 3-1 in the other semi-final. N.B. There was no women’s event in Vladivostok, that will take place at Viana do Castelo, Portugal on June 12-16. Results: 1. Wataru Sakamoto - JPNWS2 (Japan) 2. Maximilian Soh - SINMS1 (Singapore) 3. Vladimir Lipavsky - RUSVL1 (Russia) 4. Ilya Ermakov - RUSIE1 (Russia) 5. Nikolay Korolev - RUSNK5 (Russia) 6. Ebrahim ABDULLA - BRNEA1 (Bahrain) Round Robin Results (out of 10 races): 1. Wataru Sakamato – 8 2. Ilya Ermakov - 6 3. Maximilian Soh – 5.5 4. Vladimir Lipavsky – 5 5. Nikolay Korolev – 3.5 6. Ebrahim Abulla - 1 Regional Finals North America and Caribbean - Bridgetown, Barbados - 30 Jan - 3 Feb 2013 - Winners: Open: (Dustin Durant (USA). Women: Sandy Hayes (USA) South America - Mar Del Plata, Argentina - 27-31 March 2013 - Winners: Open: Henrique Haddad (BRA). Women: Juliana Senfft (BRA) Europe II - Lelystad, Netherlands - 1-5 May 2013. Winner: Viktor Ogeman (SWE). Asia - Vladivostok, Russia - 6-9 June 2013. Winner: Wataru Sakamoto (JPN) Europe I - Viana do Castelo, Portugal - 12-16 June 2013 Grand Final Middelfart, Denmark - 6-10 August 2013 Nations Cup website
Wataru Sakamoto and the Japan team, winners of the Asia ISAF Nations Cup regional final.