• Fantastic Finish At Geelong Worlds

    Thrilling medal races produce world champions

    Peter Burling and Blair Tuke from New Zealand dazzled to win another 49er world championship, the sixth for the magic combo, which is easily a class record.

    In thrilling medal race the Spanish 49erFX team of Tamara Echegoyen and Paula Barcelo and the British Nacra 17 team of John Gimson and Anna Burnet owned those class’ top spots respectively.

    Three medal races on Corio Bay in cool SW 10-14 knots building to 18 knots by the afternoon capped off the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 2020 World Championship, and added more data to the form guide for those nations yet to announce their representative teams for Tokyo 2020.

    Medal prospects for Enoshima, the sailing venue for the Olympic Games July 24 to August 9, are a little clearer. Then there are the surprise top 10 absentees including Rio 2016 FX gold medallists Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) and Rio Nacra 17 gold medal winners Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza (ARG).



    Nacra 17 – Gimson and Burnet’s spectacular rebound
    John Gimson and Anna Burnet (GBR) rebounded from their tiller extension breakage in the final of two morning races to put themselves into the gold medal position. The Brits led from the first work, taking advantage of the two Australian teams playing a cat and mouse overall game for country selection further back.

    Gimson acknowledged back on the Royal Geelong Yacht Club hardstand, “We knew with the Australians trials still on, it definitely helped us. Our strategy was to get a clean start and stay on the lifted tack. Neither of us can believe it; after the week we’ve had we are unbelievably happy.”

    “We just kept fighting this week,” Burnet added. “We knew from the forecast it was going to be building, it ended up being a bit breezier than we thought. It’s been amazing having Iain Percy here mentoring and helping. We’ve been away since November 1, we’ll now head back home to get boats ready for Europe, then it’s all on for Tokyo.”

    With country selection to be announced, there was everything at stake for Australia’s two top 10 Nacra 17 teams, Nathan and Haylee Outteridge and Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin, who were first and second respectively in overall standings prior to the gold medal race. The Outteridges scooped the silver medal and Waterhouse/Darmanin the bronze, and though the order seems correct on paper, it was not the result the brother and sister due were after.

    “We are happy to have a win today, and also go home with a medal,” Darmanin said. “We have really developed as a team in this quadrennial, and I am proud of how we are sailing. In a medal race like today, where there are so many things to think about and crews attacking you from everywhere, that is when the team comes together and really shines.”

    Country qualification
    US Sailing publish their points system so as of today, Riley Gibbs and Anna Weiss wrapped up USA selection in the Nacra 17 and celebrations were noisy on the boat ramp for Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea who pipped their USA countrymates with their medal race result. Both teams can now begin their preparations for Enoshima in earnest.

    Australian selectors are expected to make an announcement on their Nacra team as early as next week, with Rio 2016 silver medallists Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin widely tipped for the pick. The Phillips brothers, Will who drives and Sam who crews, reached a benchmark in terms of internal selection for Tokyo 2020 with their sixth overall.

    Another team that secured their first ever Olympic berth are Ida Marie Nielsen and Marie Olsen of Denmark. The two-time European Champions narrowly lost their domestic trials in 2016 and narrowly won their domestic trials this time, over teammates AJ Schutt and Iben Nieslby.










    Six-time 49er world champions Peter Burling & Blair Tuke (NZL)
    49er – six world championship titles to Burling/Tuke
    An integral part of the Emirates Team New Zealand America’s Cup defence team, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke went into the final double points gold medal race on Saturday February 15, 2020 with an 18-point advantage, but still posted a fourth to wrap things up cleanly.

    Second by 20 points was the Spanish pair of Diego Botin and Iago Lopez Marra and third by a margin of two points were the Germans, Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel.

    “We put together a couple of good ones this morning so we could be a bit more relaxed in that last one,” Burling said. “Being an Olympic year it’s a good one to win.”

    Tuke had this to say: “We’ve really stepped up in some areas this week. We’ll enjoy this win as they don’t come that often.”

    When asked how they will balance an Olympic and America’s Cup campaign for the second time, Blair commented: “We’ll just keep going as we’ve been going, and enjoying both. We’ve had more than a solid year of doing both campaigns; before Rio it was the same.”

    Burling/Tuke began the medal race on port tack at the boat end and showed great speed, especially downwind. They remained strategically cautious, avoiding any risk to their commanding first.

    Heil/Ploessel put together a strong start mid-line and were fast upwind. They went on to bullet in the medal race, giving them the bronze, while the Austrians Benjamin Bildstein and David Hussl were left reeling after a penalty call at the start. Bildstein/Hussl, who were first on the leaderboard prior to the final day of racing, couldn’t close the gap on the racetrack and missed out on top three by one point.










    49erFX – Echegoyen and Barcelo win match race to secure gold
    Echegoyen with Barcelo (ESP) and Dobson with Tidey (GBR) locked horns throughout the medal race. Each team was well clear of any competition and only had to beat the other to secure the gold medal.

    “We are so so happy,” Echegoyen said on-water once the world championship result was clear. “You know this kind of course is shifting all the time, you have to think about what is the best plan. We tried just to be close to her (GBR); you have to be calm and keep going. If you do a split, you can lose control.

    “Because of the Volvo Race, Paula and I started this campaign a little late; it’s a short time to try and get to the high level of this fleet. At the last worlds in Auckland we had to abandon [due to an injury to Paula]. Here we just tried to focus every day,” the beaming skipper added.

    “Every moment it was so close and so stressful and finally we get the gold,” Barcelo said as the pair enjoyed some celebratory champagne, having beaten Dobson/Tidey.

    On the second upwind beat of the medal race, the British team made significant gains on the Spanish before tacking underneath. Echegoyen, the 2012 match racing world champion, tacked immediately on their line and Dobson/Tidey reacted. The Brits were locked in and made gains, but the layline forced both to tack back with the Spanish directly ahead into the windward mark.

    The British looked to have a slightly better hoist going but capsized when their kite filled with water halfway up. The Spanish sped away, only looking back moments later to realize the pressure valve had been released.

    The eventual silver medallists will be replaying the capsize in their heads for some time. “Our first reaction is we are a little disappointed,” Dobson admitted. “We could have taken it to the Spanish a little better in the medal race, but on the whole we have sailed a really good regatta.”

    Outside the match race for gold was an eight-team battle for the bronze medal. Almost all of the teams were in the hunt when drama hit at the leeward mark. Some teams over laid, others rode forward in a puff and all arrived at the leeward marks together. Chaos ensued, and Roble/Shea (USA) pounced with a smooth rounding, which they rode into the lead.









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    Day Six: US Sailing Team Athletes Punch Their Tickets for Tokyo 2020 and Deliver World Championship Medal
    The final day of the 2020 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 World Championships was packed with excitement for the US Sailing Team. After a long series of challenging racing, the U.S. team has much to celebrate, including a medal and four athletes that have qualified to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

    At the conclusion of the final two Nacra 17 fleet races, Riley Gibbs (Long Beach, Calif.) and Anna Weis (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) rose to the occasion and were the first athletes to qualify for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team. US Sailing Team 49erFX athletes, Stephanie Roble (East Troy, Wisc.) and Maggie Shea (Wilmette, Ill.) followed shortly after, managing to simultaneously secure the Bronze Medal and the Olympic berth in a nail-biting Medal Race.

    Gibbs and Weis began the event with a relatively comfortable, 12-point lead over fellow U.S. athletes Sarah Newberry (Miami, Fla.) and David Liebenberg (Livermore, Calif.). Though Newberry and Liebenberg delivered some solid races to close the gap, Gibbs and Weis answered back and wrapped up the event on a high, finishing the final gold fleet race in second place and securing their spot at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

    “It is seriously insane. This is something I’ve dreamed of for a long time and I just can’t believe it’s real. I can’t put this feeling into words. It’s unreal,” Weis said on qualifying. She and Gibbs have had quite a few highlights on their campaign together. Their accomplishments are especially impressive considering the pair only recently teamed up full-time.

    Weis continued, “Riley and I have only been sailing together for a year but we’ve already been through so many ups and downs as a team, and this event was just another challenge along the way. We really put our minds to making the most of training and learning as much as we can because we know time isn’t our friend. It’s been a total whirlwind but also so rewarding.”

    The team is looking forward to making the most of some brief downtime before they resume training for the Tokyo 2020 Games. “We are so pumped to continue training. We had so many learning moments and great takeaways this week that will really help us push and work hard all the way up to the Olympics. The real grind starts now!”

    Today’s 49erFX fleet races ran simultaneously with the Nacra racing and were filled with exciting non-stop action. Paris Henken (Coronado, Calif.) and Anna Tobias (Pittsburgh, Penn.) won the first race of the day while Roble and Shea trailed in 17th, vaulting the Olympic veterans, up the scoreboard to reclaim the lead in the U.S. Olympic trials.

    From that moment, it was clear to Roble and Shea that they had little leeway for error for the final fleet race. “After the first race today, we knew that we had used up all of our mistakes, so we had to execute solid races,” said Shea. “We also knew that Paris and Anna were sailing really well and that we had to be ready for a big push at the end.”

    As they were able to tighten the gap in the final fleet race, the medal race was set to be the final test for the 49erFX spot on the 2020 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team. After a false start and abandonment of the first medal race attempt, Henken and Tobias started off strong. However, Roble and Shea maximized the short course and good boat handling to make gains and pass them on the first run.

    The tight point spread between the third to 10th place boats made for a constantly shuffling leaderboard, and as the two American teams rounded the gate, Henken and Tobais’ spinnaker made contact with Roble and Shea, instigating a penalty turn from Henken and Tobias (watch below). “From there, we just said let’s send it and try to win this race and see how the cookie crumbles,” said Roble.

    Roble and Shea held on for the race win with just enough of a margin over Henken and Tobias to win a tiebreaker for the U.S. trials. “We had no idea—we crossed the line and were just really proud of how we sailed and said regardless of the outcome, that we were just really proud of how we rallied,” said Roble.

    The pair also had no idea that they simultaneously secured the Bronze Medal. “It’s still totally surreal,” she continued. “Literally, it’s the best day of my life. We’re so happy. We’ve worked really hard to come to this point. We have a group of supporters that have made this dream possible for us. We wouldn’t be standing on this podium without anyone who’s been supporting us on and off the water. This is a massive team effort and we’re really proud of it.” Shea agreed, “Our progress and this entire journey, for that matter, would not have been possible without the amazing team behind us. We have such an army of supporters.”

    This is the first World Championship medal won by an American 49erFX pair. Roble and Shea’s medal today isn’t just a victory for them, but for everyone who’s played a role in helping them get to this point. Roble added, “Paris and Anna also were obviously really, really good competitors. They’ve been pushing us absolutely to our limits to be better athletes every single day on and off the water.”

    While two of the three classes at this event celebrate the newly selected Tokyo 2020 athletes, the U.S. Men’s 49er sailors will have to wait to find out if they’ll be sending a team to the Games. At the 2019 World Championships, U.S. 49ers unfortunately narrowly missed out on a berth for country representation at the Games.

    Though the U.S. doesn’t currently have a berth, it is the first nation in line to receive a forfeited one from another country. Should that situation arise, Nevin Snow (San Diego, Calif.) and Dane Wilson (Ojai, Calif.) will be the U.S. representatives thanks to their finish at this event and the 2019 World Championships.

    “We’re pretty stoked. Today was a tough day for us, so we have mixed emotions, but we’re excited,” said Snow. “This event has been a new experience because it felt like the first true trials for us. In Auckland, we were working on getting a spot for the US, which we still haven’t really gotten but we’re hoping it will come. In that respect, this is the first event where we’ve had the other Americans in the corner of our eye, even though no one wants to admit it. So, it has brought a different element for us.”

    In addition to the trial elements at play, Snow and Wilson are still learning plenty about what it means to campaign for the Olympics. “We’re also still pretty new to the whole process. Dane and I only started sailing together in April of last year. From our perspective, the group we’ve got going is an exciting thing to be a part of, and a huge step up for U.S. 49er sailing, because it’s proving to be a super-fast way to get better. As you can tell, there were so many American sailors in gold fleet at this event. We weren’t even doing that at intermediate events a year ago. If that’s not evidence of improvement, I don’t know what is.”

    After a challenging week battling tricky conditions and tight competition, all of the U.S. athletes will return to the states with plenty to be proud of.

    U.S. Final Results

    49erFX CLICKY
    Stephanie Roble & Maggie Shea, 3rd
    Paris Henken & Anna Tobias, 7th


    Nacra 17 Final Results CLICKY
    Sarah Newberry & David Liebenberg, 14th
    Riley Gibbs & Anna Weis, 17th
    Ravi Parent & Caroline Atwood, 21st


    49er Final Results CLICKY
    Andrew Mollerus & Ian MacDiarmid, 14th
    Nevin Snow & Dane Wilson, 20th
    Ian Barrows & Mitchell Kiss, 21st
    Harry Melges IV & Finn Rowe, 25th
    Judge Ryan & Hans Henken, 26th
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Going For The Gold In Geelong started by Photoboy View original post