On day nine of the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Perth, Western Australia four new world champions took to the podium as dusk fell; marking the end of a full day of medal racing. It was a day enjoyed by both sailors and public alike, with spectators lining the beach and filling the grandstand at Bather’s Bay to witness who would take gold in the Finn, Laser Radial, Men’s 470 and Women’s RS:X classes.
In the evening, the medal ceremonies in the Worlds Village attracted an enthusiastic crowd of onlookers as athletes draped themselves in national flags to receive their gold, silver and bronze medals.
Giles Scott won a game of cat and mouse on the water to secure the title of Finn world champion and the Finn Gold Cup, beating Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) by just one point in a tense final day of racing. Postma needed Scott to finish at least third in order to win overall.
He started playing tactics on the third leg, allowing Denmark’s Jonas Hoegh Christensen to catch up so as to put Scott second. Scott remained in third place until the last leg, when he sped past Hoegh Christensen and secured second place in the Medal Race, enough to put him on 30 points overall to secure the championship and Gold.
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'I came here looking to win,' Scott said. 'I felt like I needed to prove myself. I made things difficult for myself at the start but I managed to seek out some decent waves and it was an emotional finish, I nearly ended up in tears.
While Postma was first over the line, cheered on by a big crowd of supporters on the breakwater, the man from the Netherlands had to settle for the silver medal with 31 points. 'I wanted to win here.' Postma said. 'Giles did a better job, he won this week and congrats to him.'
Former world champion Ed Wright (GBR) took the bronze medal finishing fifth in the Medal Race taking him to 35 points.
World number one Marit Bouwmeester (NED) held off a determined Evi van Acker (BEL) to claim her first world championship in Laser Radial. 'I feel awesome,' she said.
'I wanted to dominate the week. It was a really, really tough week and I was happy. Only six points separated the two going into the Medal Race and while van Acker worked her way to a point where she could have taken the title, a penalty for pumping kept Bouwmeester ahead on points. 'I think I could have won,' van Acker said. 'Some mistakes were made, that’s what cost me the gold medal.
Paige Railey (USA) won the bronze by the smallest of margins, taking the medal by a single point. 'It’s a huge relief. I’m extremely happy to see all the hard work pay off,' she said.
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The Laser Radial Medal Race sailors had winds of 8-13 knots, but the pressure constantly changed. The spectator breakwater also played a role in defining the race. Veronika Fenclova (CZE) came from sixth to win the Medal Race, which saw many different leaders, but Bouwmeester’s fourth place finish was enough to secure the world title.
With an 18-point lead going into the Medal Race, Australia’s Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page sailed a smooth safe race to claim the men’s 470 world win. The Australian duo’s fourth place finish was enough to secure Malcolm Page his fifth world championship.
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'We didn’t have to win,' Page said after the race. 'We didn’t have to be so risky. It’s just as satisfying. I’m sure anybody in the fleet would’ve loved to swap with us, to be in that position. Coming across fourth on the line [in the Medal race], it’s just fine.
Great Britain’s Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell led the field for the entire race to cross the line first but had to settle with second. 'I’m most proud of our partnership,' Bithell said. 'We have had a lot of pressure this week that we have had to deal with. We have two other very successful teams so we have had to chase them all week, so I’m just proud that we have stuck together as a team and, well, the rest is history.
The biggest cheers at the boat park were reserved for bronze medallists Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) were greeted by an excited crowd at the Royal Perth Yacht Club Annexe. 'We fought really hard,' Marenic said. 'We deserve the bronze.'
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It was a battle of three of the best and a race between three good friends in the women’s RS:X Medal Race with Israel’s Lee Korzits taking gold over 'sisters' Zofia Noceti-Klepacka (POL) and Marina Alabau (ESP). 'These girls are my team. We all won, all three of us,' the Israeli said.
With Poland’s Noceti-Klepacka taking silver and Alabau (ESP) the bronze, the three women hugged and drank champagne together when they got to shore, but it was a different story during the race.
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'When I go onto the water I am like a warrior, even to my friends,' Korzits said. 'On the beach we are like best friends but in the water we are competing.'
The race, with light winds and seaweed, tested the strength and balance of all competitors with the sailors having to pump furiously to get to the windward mark.
While Maayan Davidovich (ISR) charged ahead on the easier downward leg to finish first in the race, it wasn’t enough to secure her a place in the top three.
Great Britain’s Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson lead in the overall standings after the opening day of racing in the Star class on Sunday, with Robert Stanjek and Frithjof Kleen (GER) in second, Ireland’s Peter O’Leary and David Burrows third after two races.
Race one averaged wind speeds of 13 knots, which clearly benefitted Polish pair Matuesz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki who won by 63 seconds form Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih (USA).
Germany’s Stanjek and Kleen finished in third, one second ahead of Percy and Simpson (GBR).
Race two went to Portugal’s Afonso Domingos and Frederico Melo while O’Leary and Burrows (IRL) came in a close second, just 14 seconds behind the frontrunners.
Percy and Simpson placed third, while Sweden’s Fredrik Loof and Max Salminen came fourth.
Race one winners Kusznierewicz and Zycki did not finish race two after they were forced to retire after a double yellow penalty flag.
A lazy Fremantle doctor – the local sea breeze - again hampered Women’s Match Racing, delaying the start by three hours on Sunday. Flight 62 saw some exciting racing with the match up between the two Australian teams of Nicky Souter and Olivia Price.
A number of lead changes and some very close sailing had many fans in the grandstand, including Nicky Souter’s family, on the edge of their seats. But it was Olivia Price’s AUS-2 team who managed to edge over the line first.
There was close racing all day as the round robin repecharge stage continued, and with only four points between the top and bottom teams, there was plenty of opportunity for sailors to advance through to the quarterfinals.
At the end of Sunday’s racing, Price (AUS-2) was seven wins and three losses, with Macgregor (GBR) on six wins and one loss, and Kjellberg (SWE-1) on six wins and three losses.
Racing begins on Monday 12 December at 1000 local time, with the last three repecharge flights left over from Sunday, followed by the three remaining flights of the Gold seeding.
The TAG Heuer Awards for the best male and female athlete of the first week of the Worlds were awarded to Australian Men’s 470 sailor Mat Belcher, who won gold with team mate Malcolm Page, and Dutch Laser Radial gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester. The individual awards take into account sporting achievement as well as the athlete’s contribution to the promotion of sailing as an Olympic sport.
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Perth ISAF Sailiing World Championship website