October 31, 2015
Sailing World Cup Final set for exciting finale
Abu Dhabi: The 2015 International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Sailing World Cup Final is set for a dramatic climax in Abu Dhabi after a spectacular day of racing on Saturday saw the sport’s top elite athletes battling to grab the initiative in the gold-medal chase.
Honours in the eight Olympic sailing classes, as well as an open kiteboarding competition, will now be decided on a tense final day of medal races at Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club on Sunday, with several defending champions coming under pressure.
Brazilian Ricardo Santos holds a slender two-point advantage over Spain’s Ivan Pastor Lafuente in the Men’s RS:X class after winning the second of three races on day three of the regatta, which is sponsored by ADS Securities and Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.
Byron Kokkalanis of Greece, last year’s silver medal winner, is third after taking the last race of the day, which saw British overnight leader Tom Squires come home in 12th, slipping to fourth overall. But with double points counting in the medal races, the tussle for gold is still wide open.
It is going to take a last-day disaster to prevent Bryony Shaw from landing her second successive World Cup gold medal in Abu Dhabi after the British sailor underlined her dominance of the Women’s RS:X class, winning all three of her races.
With six victories overall in nine races, Shaw leads by seven points from Italy’s Flavia Tartaglini, who finished second to her in two of the races, with Brazilian Patricia Freitas in third another six points adrift after a run of sixth, second and third.
In an off-shore breeze of 8-13 knots at Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club, Australian Tom Burton held on to his overnight three-point lead in the 20-boat Laser class from Brazilian Robert Scheidt after both suffered, and discarded, their worst results of the regatta so far.
Burton followed an eighth place with a fourth and five-time Olympic medalist Scheidt went from second to 14th, while Britain’s Nick Thompson is in third another five points behind. The day’s race winners were Swede Jesper Stalheim and Cypriot Pavlos Kontides, who are fifth and sixth respectively.
Another fascinating battle for gold is assured in the Laser Radials, where Holland’s Marit Bouwmeester leads by a single point from Sweden’s Josefin Olsson after both had mixed fortunes.
After winning the first of the day’s two races in which Bouwmeester finished fifth, Olsson slumped to 17th and her Dutch rival to 13th in race two, both immediately discarding the results. Belgium’s defending champion Evi Van Acker is another seven points behind in the bronze-medal position after third and eighth-place finishes.
There were no bigger gold medal favourites at the start of the regatta than Men’s 470 defending champions Mat Belcher and Will Ryan, and the multiple world champions have certainly lived up to their billing.
They go into the medal race leading by seven points from Sweden’s Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergström after both pairings scored second-place finishes and discarded sixth positions.
Still in the hunt are Americans Stuart McNay and David Hughes, who won the day’s first race before finishing seventh in the next to end the day in third, a single point adrift of the Swedes.