#isafsailingworldcup – After four days of red hot ISAF World Cup competition – in conditions similar to those expected next year for the Olympic regatta itself – three Irish campaigns are regrouping after less than stellar results on the French riviera. The sailors will review performances ahead of the Delta Lloyd Regatta which takes place in Medemblik, Netherlands next month. In a tough outcome, (given the achievement of two Irish medal race finishes in Palma earlier this month) there was no Irish participation in any of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères medal races yesterday, ironically in the first real breeze of the week. It would have suited Dun Laoghaire's Annalise Murphy who finished up 30th out of 40. The Belfast 49er campaign of Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern, silver medal winners in Hyeres last year, were 24th from 40. The 49erfx of Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey was 26th.
Next month's Delta Lloyd Regatta acts as the qualification regatta for ISAF Sailing World Cup Weymouth and Portland which takes place at the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition venue from 8-14 June. Delta Lloyd regatta also acts as an Irish trial for the men's Laser. Belfast's James Espey and Dun Laoghaire debutante Finn Lynch are to face each other in the trial for a place at the Rio test event known as 'Aqueece Rio' in August.
The fan was turned up for the final day at ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères as an exciting finale played out across two racing areas.
18-20 knots of breeze ensured the regatta concluded with thrills and spills aplenty. Seven races unravelled on the live broadcast area – click above vid for a full replay – whilst a further three concluded nearby.
Across the ten Olympic disciplines, ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères medals were awarded, a share of the €72,000 was distributed and ISAF Sailing World Cup Final spots were picked up.
Last on the race track on the final day, the 49erFX provided a blockbuster conclusion.
Big breeze and big waves tested the 49erFX sailors and there were some thrills, spills and close shaves in a testing race.
One point split overnight leaders Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) and Denmark's Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen coming into the day.
Following a clear start and intriguing upwind leg, the first mark saw the Danes hold the advantage, getting clear air in their sails. However a close rounding saw the Brazilians touch the mark resulting in a penalty turn and from there they were always playing catch up.
The Danes were able to edge away ensuring an uphill battle for the Brazilians. Pushing their 49erFX to its limits Grael and Kunze lost a bit of control on the second downwind but expertly held it together, with Grael hanging out of the boat yet keeping it upright.
Meanwhile the Danes were never under great pressure, working through the motions and despite being pipped to the Medal Race win by compatriots Jena Hansen and Katja Salskov-Iversen (DEN) they claimed gold by seven points over silver recipients Grael and Kunze.
"We had a really good race," commented the pair almost in tandem. "We kept calm throughout the course and that was important in these conditions.
"We kept it simple, without pressure and sailed fast."
Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich (ITA) held on to bronze after a fifth. After racing Conti said, "We made a few mistakes so we're a little disappointed but we're happy because we had good boat speed and handling. We are happy with bronze. It means a lot to us. After silver in Miami it's important for us."
1 - Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen (DEN) - 87
2 – Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) – 94
3 – Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich (ITA) – 99
It was a winner takes all scenario in the Women's 470 with any of the top four capable of taking gold.
Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Luiza Barbachan (BRA), Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR), Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (NZL) and Camille Lecointre and Helene Defrance (FRA) were all in the running with the capabilities to command and conquer.
In a close, exciting race Medal Race Brazil's Oliveira and Barbachan came out of the blocks with intent and led at the first mark. They made some gains on the downwind but had Japan's Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka for company on the second lap. The Japanese pair passed the Brazilians to take the bullet but it was irrelevant as the Brazilians were well clear of their rivals and finished in second to take gold.
"The points were so close," explained Oliveira. "We thought that we must do our job and sail our own race. We thought about the points and the other boats but we just focused on us. It was perfect. We finished second in the race and we're so happy.
"It was our goal to win here and we worked very hard for this and we got it. It's amazing, we're so happy."
Aleh and Powrie came through in third in the Medal Race to move up into silver medal position. "It's a great way to finish," commented Aleh. "It's been a tough week. The Brazilians have been great all week and it was an exciting Medal Race with us all fighting it out."
Camille Lecointre and Helene Defrance (FRA) followed behind the Kiwis and clinched bronze. Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR) missed out on the podium by a single point.
Top Three Women's 470
Fernanda Oliveira & Ana Luiza Barbachan (BRA) – 45
Jo Aleh & Polly Powrie (NZL) – 53
Camille Lecointre & Helene Defrance (FRA) – 54
It was clear for all to see that Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic's (CRO) winter training paid off. The pair ended came into the Medal Race 25 points clear of Luke Patience and Elliot Willis (GBR) to claim the gold medal a day early.
Fantela and Igor got off to a great start in the windiest and roughest sea state that the competition had seen all week to finish seventh in the fleet, ending the ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères on an impressive 40 points.
The fight for second and third place however was much less certain.
Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) rounded the first mark in pole position. They held their lead throughout the race and went on the claim the Medal Race victory which handed them silver. Luke Patience and Elliot Willis (GBR) finished just four points behind the Australians in third place.
1 – Sime Fantela & Igor Marenic (CRO) – 40
2 – Mat Belcher & Will Ryan (AUS) – 55
3 – Luke Patience & Elliot Willis (GBR) – 59
Lilian De Geus (NED) booked her ticket to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the Abu Dhabi World Cup Final by taking gold in the Women's RS:X.
The Dutch sailor had a solid advantage heading into the Medal Race and knew a good performance would seal the deal. She put on an outstanding show in the Medal Race and established a commanding lead on the final downwind.
She pulled away to take her first race win of the week, ending 11 points clear of Charline Picon (FRA).
It was a high scoring affair in the Women's RS:X with ups and downs aplenty.
Picon came through in second in the Medal Race to take silver, a result she was pleasantly surprised with, "If you had said to me three days ago 'you'll win silver this week' I would have said that it was impossible but I'd never give up.
"I never gave up, I tried to fight and I'm happy because I have silver but I'm not happy about my week as I had a lot of bad races."
Patricia Freitas (BRA) pushed Picon hard in the Medal Race in an attempt to overthrow her but at the penultimate rounding she misjudged the layline which allowed the French sailor to pass. Nonetheless Freitas came through in third, taking bronze.
1 - Lilian de Geus (NED) – 90
2 - Charline Picon (FRA) – 101
3 - Patricia Freitas (BRA) – 104
A competition made up of the world's most skilled male windsurfers was always going to be a tough challenge for all competitors. Throughout the week there have been many ups and downs with multiple race winners.
France's Pierre Le Coq started the day knowing that he would take home a medal. The Frenchman entered the Medal Race at the top of the leaderboard with a 15 point lead. An eighth or better would seal the deal and Le Coq finished in seventh to wrap up gold.
Piotr Myszka (POL) was on top form in the big breeze, coming second to take silver whilst a fourth for Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) saw him drop into bronze medal position.
Louis Giard (FRA) revelled in the big breeze and took the Medal Race win. With three race victories, Giard recorded the most out of any racer but was not consistent and ended up eighth overall.
1 – Pierre le Coq (FRA) – 74
2 – Piotr Myszka (POL – 81 –
3 – Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) – 83
Great Britain's Giles Scott had gold all but wrapped up in the Finn and a Medal Race bullet confirmed his place at the top of the pack.
Scott has controlled the week with a discarded 24th his only result outside of the top ten and he was pleased with his performance, "Taking the event and the Medal Race win is a great way to round up the regatta, especially when it is my first win in Hyères.
"This was not an easy regatta. The conditions were super difficult with light and shifty winds for most of the week so the result is very rewarding."
Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) gave himself a huge chance of taking a medal following double bullets on the penultimate day. He followed this up with a third in the Medal Race to hold on to silver.
Great Britain's Ed Wright finished the Medal Race in eighth which was enough to hang on to bronze on 75 points. A fifth from Zsombor Berecz (HUN) left him three points off bronze medal position.
1 - Giles Scott (GBR) – 38
2 - Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) – 62
3 - Ed Wright (GBR) – 75
An overnight protest significantly altered the Laser leaderboard.
The results before the protest saw Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) but a solid lead over Tom Burton. However, during the final fleet race Stipanovic pushed Burton off of the proper course and gained a significant advantage as a result. Following the protest, Stipanovic was scored a non discardable 41st having infringed Tom Burton (AUS). The Australian received 21 points following a redress.
Burton came into the day leading on 45 points, followed by Nick Thompson (GBR) on 47 points. Rutger van Schaardenburg (NED) and Nicholas Heiner (NED) followed on 57 points with Robert Scheidt (BRA) on 58. Stipanovic, meanwhile, was down the pack on 75 points.
The race commenced in a good breeze and Heiner was over the line early and disqualified ensuring he dropped out of the running.
Charlie Buckingham (USA) came out strongly and grabbed the lead. He was closely followed by Burton and the pair jostled at the front of the pack.
Buckingham had the best of the back and forth exchange, taking the bullet. Burton followed 11 seconds behind to claim gold much to his delight as he hit is Laser with a mixture of relief and frustration after a tough week.
With Heiner out of the running it was between Thompson, van Schaardenburg and Scheidt for the remaining medals.
Thompson remained in control and picked up a fifth to take silver. Scheidt kept van Schaardenburg at bay to finish fourth, claiming bronze.
1 – Tom Burton (AUS) – 49
2 – Nick Thompson (GBR) – 57
3 – Robert Scheidt (BRA) - 66
Evi Van Acker (BEL) made it look easy in the Laser Radial taking out the Medal Race bullet to win by 21 points.
It was all on for the remaining podium spots between Gintare Scheidt (LTU), Josefin Olsson (SWE) and Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN).
Scheidt ventured into the Medal Race on 38 points with Rindom on 44 and Olsson on 46.
Whilst Van Acker ran away with the victory Olsson gritted her teeth and got down to business. Pushing hard throughout the race she finished second, doing all she could have possibly done, having started the day in fourth overall.
Olsson had an anxious wait to see where she would finish overall and she witnessed Rindom coming through in fourth followed by Scheidt in fifth. As a result Olsson leapfrogged Rindom but it was not enough to overhaul Scheidt who claimed silver.
1 – Evi Van Acker (BEL) – 25
2 – Gintare Scheidt (LTU) – 48
3 – Josefin Olsson (SWE) – 50
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) and Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) had gold and silver wrapped up in advance of the Medal Race but there was a fight on for bronze.
The advantage ahead of the day was with David Gilmour and Rhys Mara (AUS). They had an eight point advantage over Germany's Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel and were in control for the first 50% of the race. However, on the second downwind disaster struck for Gilmour and Mara as they capsized and lost their third position.
The Australians dropped down the pack and came through in ninth. The Germans capitalised on the Australians misfortune, coming through in fourth to steal bronze.
Peter Burling & Blair Tuke (NZL) – 49
Nathan Outteridge & Iain Jensen (AUS) – 98
Erik Heil & Thomas Ploessel (GER) – 144
Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA) stylishly sealed gold and an Abu Dhabi Final spot in the Nacra 17 by winning the Medal Race in convincing fashion.
The French team have been dominant in the Nacra 17 and had gold wrapped up in advance of the Medal Race. Besson and Riou got off to a blistering start and were able to grab an early advantage over the pack and never looked back, taking the bullet by 14 seconds over Mandy Mulder and Coen de Koning (NED).
"We're feeling good," smiled Besson, "It's a great day and it's great to win the Medal Race and finish the week off like that.
"It was really important for France to win here and everybody, including me, is really proud."
A real battle was on behind the French team between the two boats from the Netherlands with Rio 2016 Olympic selection on the line.
Mandy Mulder and Coen de Koning (NED) brought in an advantage from Trofeo Princesca Sofia and confirmed their spot by finishing second in the Medal Race and second overall. "We've qualified for the Olympics for sure," smiled de Koning.
Mulder added, "This whole week has been a good learning curve for us. We had some difficult conditions with moderate to light winds. The first day was really hard. We had some results in 20s and we learnt a lot and how to come back. We performed well in the next days and we'll take that with us."
Renee Groeneveld and Steven Krol (NED) pushed their compatriots throughout the week but couldn't quite overhaul them picking up bronze.
1 - Billy Besson & Marie Riou (FRA) – 57
2 - Mandy Mulder & Coen de Koning (NED) – 84
3 - Renee Groeneveld & Steven Krol (NED) – 98
Sailors will now regroup and review ahead of the Delta Lloyd Regatta which takes in Medemblik, the Netherlands from 26-30 May 2015. The Delta Lloyd Regatta acts as the qualification regatta for ISAF Sailing World Cup Weymouth and Portland which takes place at the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition venue from 8-14 June.
The world's best 40 Olympic and Paralympic sailors will put their skills to the test once again in Weymouth and Portland, Great Britain with World Cup honours and Abu Dhabi Final places on the line.