Weymouth and Portland International Regatta, the Olympic Test event, has now witnessed Dorian Van Rijsselberge of the Netherlands, Zofia Klepacka of Poland and Silja Lehtinen of Finland claim the first gold medals after a gripping day of sailing on the Nothe in winds in between fifteen and twenty knots.
Van Rijsselberge had been tussling with Great Britain’s Nick Dempsey throughout the week in the Men’s RS:X with the pair locked on equal points after eight races. But the deadlock was broken ahead of the Medal Race after Van Rijsselberge had a better fifth day of sailing than Dempsey to enter the Medal Race with a seven point lead.
And the Dutchman, who holds the ISAF Sailing World Cup RS:X Men’s title, made hard work of it during the Medal Race after he rounded the first mark in tenth and 51 seconds off the leaders. But van Rijsselberge fought his way up the fleet to finish in fifth position.
Dempsey rounded the first mark in fifth and finished second overall but it was not enough to overhaul Van Rijsselberge and the Dutchman held on to secure a narrow one point victory.
'It’s been a great week and a lot of emotions and tensions going round. But more positive than negative,' said Van Rijsselberge. 'Nick’s been the favourite as it’s his home waters and he shows what he can do.'
With the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships round the corner the Dutchman was modest about his chances, 'I’m just going to try and get my country qualified in Perth. That’s the biggest thing but it would be nice to definitely get a top ten there.'
Jon-Paul Tobin (NZL) won the Medal Race but the bronze medal went to Przemyslaw Miarczynski (POL) whose fourth place in the Medal Race moved him from fifth to third.
Klepacka claimed the Women’s RS:X gold medal in wonderful fashion after winning the Medal Race by over a minute. The Polish sailor has strung together a fantastic race card throughout the week finishing out of the top three just once in eleven races.
Marina Alabau (ESP) boasts five race wins but she did not show the level of consistency that Klepacka showed. But she walks away with the silver medal and bronze went to Great Britain’s Bryony Shaw.
It went down to the wire in the Women’s Match Racing final between Silja Lehtinen, Silja Kanerva, and Lucinda Whitty (FIN) and Ekaterina Skudina, Elena Siuzeva and Elena Oblova (RUS).
The match swung to-and-fro; Skudina took the race win in the first race but Lehtinen hit back and went ahead 2-1. Lehtinen had the lead in the fourth race but after a poor mark rounding and with problems displaying her spinnaker Skudina pulled ahead to level the tie.
In the deciding race the lead changed hands throughout with neither side taking the bull by the horns and seizing the initiative. The Finnish girls ran into problems after a poor gybe as Lehtinen, at the helm, almost fell into the water but was saved. And at the finish a Russian penalty enabled Lehtinen to cross the finish line first to take the gold medal.
'What did not happen in the last race?' said Lehtinen. 'It was a really exciting match and at the leeward mark we rounded the mark side by side with one lap and it was a good fight.'
And crew Kanerva added, 'We gave our souls and everything that was left in our muscles.'
Only two races were possible in the 49er and after thirteen races Iker Martinez and Xabier Hernandez (ESP) lead Australia’s Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen by a single point. In Race 12 the Australians finished a second ahead of the Spaniards to take the bullet but both teams finished out of the top three in Race 13 as Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) took the bullet and sit in third place on 48 points trailing the Spaniards by six.
After the 49ers the Stars, who were abandoned on Wednesday, continued with Race 7 and 8. Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA) continue to lead on twelve points. The day’s race wins went to Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson in Race 7 and Flavio Marazzi and Enrico de Maria in Race 8.
No racing was possible in the Finn class and they will race tomorrow as will the 49er and Star fleets
The Laser, Laser Radial and Men’s and Women’s 470 will take place tomorrow with the first race scheduled to start at 12:00 local time.
Weymouth and Portland International Regatta website