The air was thick with expectation as the 470 Men and Women teams prepared in the boat park under the eyes of hordes of spectators gathered and watching from the elevated Duna grandstand. A unique sight to witness as the 470 Medal Races took prime time today here in Santander as they got underway in a light 7-8 knot breeze.
Going into the double-points medal race, Championship leaders Lara Vadlau/Jola Ogar (AUT) had to finish ahead of the 2012 Olympic gold medallists Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL) to secure the gold medal.With a text book perfect start, the Austrians claimed a clear lane, to put the lead in their hands and just over eighteen minutes later they crossed the finish line to become 2014 470 Women World Champions.
At the first upwind mark, it was Japan’s Ai Kondo Yoshida/Miho Yoshioka who were closest behind, rounding with just 4 seconds gap to the Austrians, but Vadlau/Ogar’s eyes were only on the Kiwis.
Downwind, the Austrians continued to extend their lead over the fleet, with only the British pair of Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark punching through the pack to move up to second place and put in a challenge. Despite pushing hard, there was no change in positions and the two teams crossed the finish line with just 5 seconds between them, and holding almost a minute margin over the next team, Slovenia’s Tina Mrak/Veronika Macarol.
So World Championship gold in the bag, to add to the 470 European title they won in July this year. Just two years ago at the 2012 Olympics, Vadlau finished in last place, with Aleh/Powrie winning Olympic gold and Mills/Clark sealing silver. Since, the Vadlau/Ogar partnership has delivered a meteoric climb upwards and today proved once again they have the courage, passion and a burning desire to be the best they can be.
“In the first upwind when we were close to the right layline and we saw this huge gust on the right side and I saw the Kiwis were left side and I said to Lara this is good because we have wind and they don’t,” said Ogar as she relived the race. “But we didn’t get too excited and only when we rounded the downwind mark did we realise we could have it. But we still stayed focused and remembered the times when we have been leading a race and then lost first place because we were too relaxed,”
“We never win medal races,” laughed Ogar. “Yes we won in Miami, but it was not such a strong fleet.”
“For this medal race I told Jola I will sail the wind and check the wind and you will keep your eyes on all the other boats,” said Vadlau. “Yes, this is always our plan,” added Ogar. “It works and if something is working, you shouldn’t change it!”
“It is amazing, we are World Champions,” grinned Vadlau. “You know I told Jola before the race that we must win it because I want to have a gold 470 on my mainsail,” she added referring to the right they have now earned themselves as World Champions.
"It is unbelievable. You know we had a training session together two years ago in Palma, and I knew from that moment on that Jola had to be in my boat," said Vadlau. Celebrations may be put on hold as they will be driving back to Austria early tomorrow morning.
"I want to rest when we get back," said Ogar as there has been so much pressure on us. "We will only have about a week at home, and then we go to Rio for all of October." The pair will then head to the ISAF Sailing World Cup Grand final in Abu Dhabi, before returning to Rio.
For Aleh/Powrie it was effectively game over for gold within the first six minutes of the race, as they rounded the first mark in 7th and knew there was no hope of catching the Austrians. The 2013 World Champions’ race was now all about ensuring they didn’t let any more boats get between them and the British, to ensure they could keep hold of silver.
“From there, winning was out of the question. We just had to make sure we were close enough to the prints to make sure they couldn’t get us,” commented Aleh. “We just had to keep our composure on the next beat and take a few boats which we did, so that was some consolation.”
“It was a pretty tough race and the Austrians just did it really well. Good on them as they sailed a really good Worlds.
“We are getting there, but there is a lot to work on. I guess that’s what good about these regattas, when it doesn’t all go well we find more things to fix for next time. The Austrians are getting better and we all need to keep going. There is a lot we can do better,” Aleh concluded. A couple of weeks break at home, and Team Jolly will then be back in Rio in December 2014 for training.
The 2012 Olympic Silver medallist Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark sailed a perfect race, but were always too far behind on points to have a real shout at silver or gold. For them, securing the bronze medal was a pleasant surprise, as the pair still don’t feel in prime performance mode, after both having injury set-backs earlier in the year.
“This is the ISAF Worlds, it is only once every 4 years, so it is a big deal and to come here and perform we are really happy,” said Mills. “We put up a good fight all the way to the end with the Austrians, to try and clinch silver, but we just couldn’t quite get passed them. But as it turned out, it didn’t make a difference, because the Kiwi girls had managed to pull up enough to hold onto their silver. It was an exciting race all the way to the end.”
470 Women - Top 10 Final Overall Results
1. Lara Vadlau/Jola Ogar (AUT 431) - 34 pts
2. Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL 75) - 45 pts
3. Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR 118) - 50 pts
4. Camille Lecointre/Hélène Defrance (FRA 9) - 64 pts
5. Tina Mrak/Veronika Macarol (SLO 64) - 71 pts
6. Michelle Broekhuizen/Marieke Jongens (NED 6) - 72 pts
7. Anne Haeger/Briana Provancha (USA 1712) - 75 pts
8. Ai Kondo Yoshida/Miho Yoshioka (JPN 1) - 88 pts
9. Christina Bassadone/Eilidh McIntyre (GBR 321) - 90 pts
10. Afrodite Kyranakou/Anneloes van Veen (NED 216) - 94 pts
The gold medal was effectively a done deal going into today double-points medal race for defending World Champions Mat Belcher/Will Ryan from Australia. In theory Croatia’s Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic could get their hands on claim gold, but in practice the chances of that happening were remote as the Croatians would need to win the medal race and the Aussies finish last.
In front of a home team, the reigning 470 Junior World Champions Jordi Xammar/Joan Herp led to the first windward mark, and controlled the race from start to finish. Whilst the Spaniards had no chance of a podium spot, they knew a win would put them up the leaderboard, but even more special was to win a medal race in front of a home crowd, including the eyes of the Spanish President.
Onto the second upwind leg and the Spanish and Australians split, each choosing a separate side of the gate. Advantage to the Spanish, but not such a good choice for the Australians who dropped back to fifth overall, but this was no worry for the Australians. Belcher/Ryan clawed one boat back to finish the medal race in 4th place and successfully secure their second World Championship title together, but Mat’s fifth successive World Championship title.
Celebrating his 32nd Birthday today, Belcher gave himself one of his most memorable presents by becoming the only sailor in 470 history to win five successive World Championship titles.
“It is really cool. Amazing. Now I can really celebrate. It is a shame my wife and son can’t be here, but I will see them tomorrow. It is so cool and I didn’t think we would be in this position. It says a bit about our personality too, that we went through that winning streak of two years and to keep focused on what we are doing. It doesn’t really bother us or distract us. We are really just enjoying what we are doing and racing our competitors and having fun and that is the main thing to keep winning and keep performing,” said Belcher.
“It has been so up and down here. We are really happy with how we have performed and it is nice to come away on top."
Marking where this win sits on their road to Rio, Mat continued, “It is important in the sense that for us and our partnership to know that in a pressured situation that we can perform when we need to. We are just really happy on ourselves and how we have performed and that is really the only thing that you can control. So I guess coming into Rio we are ticking all the right boxes and we are happy with how we are developing. I guess what I am really proud about is that this week as a team we really stepped up a level. I am looking forward to having a break and then getting back in the boat and keep working on ourselves and trying to get as good as we can.”
“It is two years since we teamed up and to now focus on one goal is what Victor [coach] wants, and it is what I want so we are working really hard to make that a reality,” said Belcher referring to no longer being involved in an America’s Cup campaign. Responding to what his celebratory plans would include, Belcher said, “What we will do is have a few drinks tonight with our teammates. We have a great team in the Australian Sailing team led by Peter Conde and we will celebrate with them.”
Croatia’s Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic went into the medal race in silver medal position, but as they found themselves back in 8th place at the windward mark things were not looking so good and they had lost the silver medal to the Greek team of Panagiotis Mantis/Pavlos Kagialis who were in 5th. The Croatians resolutely fought back, chipping their way up through the fleet to finish in 6th place, with the Greeks in 5th, and seal silver by a 3 point margin, with bronze to Greece. The silver medal was the one colour missing from Fantela/Marenic’s haul of medals, so now they count, one 470 World Championship gold, one silver and three bronze medals.
“It was very close, but it ended up very well for us with our fifth medal in a row and the only medal that we missed in our collection. Gold, three bronzes and finally one silver. We are very happy,” said Fantela. “Today’s medal race was quite tough as Mat and Will were keeping an eye on us more than expected, because there was theoretically an opportunity that we might beat them. During the race he tacked on us more than a few times. This was hard for us as we had to control the Greeks, so it was very tough until the finish.
“Mat managed to do it well. I saw during the race he gave us some space as he saw that we could not win the race and he would not be last and we thank them for that,” concluded Fantela referring to the strategy Belcher/Ryan had no take in order to keep an eye on the Croatians to ensure gold, but also mindful not to impact the leaderboard behind.
Mantis/Kagialis also sailed an incredibly strong series with all top-10 finishes apart from one 15th place in race 6.
“Our plan was to stay close to the British to ensure we could secure the bronze medal,” said Mantis. “We had the option to get silver, we were close but I think everyone got what they deserved and we are all happy.”
Continued Kagialis, “Our first goal here was to get Greece’s qualification for the Olympics. Our second goal was to get a medal, so we are very happy and very proud about this. It is the second time to get a bronze medal, it is good for us. It was amazing to have so many people watching the sailing.”
Heading towards the finish, at the front of the pack the Spanish had to stay calm with the British and Americans hunting. But their lead was more than enough to win the race, with Luke Patience/Elliot Wilis (GBR) finishing in 2nd place and Stuart Mcnay/David Hughes (USA) in third. As this year's 470 Junior World and Junior European Champions crossed the finish, the crowd on the Duna simply went wild, and Jordi held his head in disbelief at their achievement. Xammar/Herp couldn’t quite take in the applause as they sailed in front of the Duna grandstand, before coming ashore by rib and in true superstar style worked their way through the spectators to massive applause.
Enjoy this video of the 470 Men Medal Ceremony ...
470 Men - Top 10 Final Overall Results
1. Mat Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS 11) - 25.30 pts
2. Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO 83) - 44 pts
3. Panagiotis Mantis/Pavlos Kagialis (GRE 1) - 47 pts
4. Luke Patience/Elliot Willis (GBR 863) - 51 pts
5. Stuart Mcnay/David Hughes (USA 1713) - 74 pts
6. Tetsuya Matsunaga/Yugo Yoshida (JPN 12) - 74 pts
7. Jordi Xammar/Joan Herp (ESP 44) - 96 pts
8. Guillaume Pirouelle/Sipan Valentin (FRA 76) - 101 pts
9. Kazuto Doi/Kimihiki Imamura (JPN 11) - 101 pts
10. Pavel Sozykin/Denis Gribanov (RUS 5) - 104 pts
Wathc the 470 Men and 470 Women Medal races at - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3GXaGWyqPc
About the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships
Participation in the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships is based on a qualification system, with only the world’s best teams entered by their national sailing federations. In the 470 Men, 73 teams from 30 nations are competing and 54 teams from 30 nations are competing in the 470 Women, for a total of 35 different nations for all six continents.
The 470 World Championship racing schedule is a 10 race series, followed by a top 10 team Medal Race for each fleet on Saturday 20 September 2014. Visit the official Championship website at www.santander2014.com
Qualification to the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition
The Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships is the first opportunity teams have to qualify their nations for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The thirteen nations qualified to the 470 Men event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition (in country order): Australia, Austria, Croatia, Spain, France, Great Britain, Greece, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden, USA.
The ten nations qualified to the 470 Women event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition (in country order): Austria, China, France, Great Britain, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Slovenia, USA.
The next chance to qualify will be the 2015 470 Class World Championships.
ISAF Video Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/user/isafchannel
470 Class Championship Photographer: Nikos Alevromytis of AleN Photography is the official 470 Class Championship Photographer. Daily Media Galleries can be viewed on http://2014worlds.470.org/en/default/races/race-photogalleries
And our 470 Olympic Sailing Facebook page.
Class Press Manager: Luissa Smith on email@example.com
More media information at: http://2014worlds.470.org/en/default/races/race-mediaboard