Kontides steals gold again
It was a case of
déjà vu on the final day of racing at Sailing's World Cup Series in Hyères,
France as Cypriot Laser sailor Pavlos Kontides once again stole gold from
underneath the nose of his rival.
On the second day of live Medal Racing from the south coast of France, it was
the turn of the One and Two Person Dinghies to have their day. And the action
A colder, overcast day with a steady 8-12 knot breeze did nothing to dampen
the spirits of the final few lucky World Cup Series medallists.
to watch all the Medal Races from France on the World Sailing YouTube
Pavlos Kontides (CYP) must have been sitting on the start line of the Laser
Medal Race thinking, 'I've been here before'.
At the 2016 World Cup Final in Melbourne, Kontides went in to the final race
in second overall fighting for a gold against Australia's Matt Wearn. He won
that battle and the gold. This time around, the job at hand was the same, the
only difference was Italy's Francesco Marrai was now in his way. The result?
Well that was the same, gold for Kontides.
The Cypriot may walk away from Hyères, France with the Laser title, but it
couldn't have been closer. Kontides and Marrai finish the regatta level on 63
points. In the end it came down to the Medal Race result, and Kontides knew
this, "It was a battle out there and I was in second or third. Francesco
managed to pull himself back up to fifth but I knew my current position would
give me the win. I got overtaken but then got my position back in the
downwind and that got me the gold. It was close racing.”
The battle commenced at the start, as Kontides explained, "I wanted to
start under Francesco, even though I wasn't sure if the right side was
paying. About a minute in I managed to get my bow in front, he started to
pick up some bad wind and had to tack. From that point, it was game on.”
Game on it certainly was. Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallist Tom Burton (AUS)
would go on to claim victory in the Medal Race, but Kontides claims Hyères
The man that Kontides battled in Melbourne, Matt Wearn, had to settle for
bronze medal and secured it with a sixth place final race finish.
In the Laser Radial Belgium's Evi van Acker was safe in the knowledge she
could not finish any worse than in silver medal position. But silver isn't
good enough for the determined Belgian and she was focused on gold.
The only sailor that could catch van Acker was Tuula Tenkanen (FIN). Van
Acker always had rival Tenkanen in her sights and set out for a fight as she
explains, "Today was an interesting race as I knew I had a silver and
just had to defend a gold. That was the focus of the day, trying to defend
against Tuula which meant we had a bit of a Match Race at the start.
"There were a lot of penalties given but for both of us I think it was
quite exciting. I managed to get a good start compared to her and because of
that I always felt in control.”
With a fourth placed finish compared to Tenkanen's last place, van Acker won
her mini match race and in turn won gold.
Finishing just ahead of van Acker in third place was France's very own
Mathilde de Kerangat. That finish meant she had secured herself a bronze
medal in front of her home crowd.
When does finishing in last place feel good? At World Cup Hyères, when you
win your first gold medal. That was the case for Turkey's Alican Kaynar
in the Finn class.
"This is my first World Cup win so I feel great,” said the Turkish
sailor, "I started the season very well and now I have won here. We head
to the Europeans next week so I feel great off the back of this.”
Hidden under a smile, you could see a sense of relief in Kaynar's eyes. That
relief came from a lot of time, effort and perseverance, "It is my first
major regatta win and it's just so good to know hard work pays off.”
Nicolas Heiner (NED) has been there or thereabouts all week in the Finn. A
ninth place finish in the Medal Race meant that the Dutch sailor had to
settle for silver, and in turn took the pressure of Kaynar allowing him to
claim that maiden win.
Winning the Medal Race, Jonathan Lobert (FRA) secured another medal for the
home nation as it took him in to bronze position. Recovering from knee
surgery, the Frenchman will be happy to come out of Hyères with his body
unscathed and with a medal around his neck.
When the going gets tough, some teams have the ability to just get the job
done. Rio 2016 Men's 470 silver medallists, Mat Belcher and Will Ryan
(AUS) rose to the top when others around them were struggling. With a string
of four race wins in a row handing them the gold with a day to spare, the
Aussies could have sat back and basked in the glory. Instead they went for
the jugular and claimed a fifth straight race win in the Medal Race.
On paper the gold look liked a walk in the park, but for Belcher it was
anything but, "The one thing I love about this class is the strength and
depth throughout which always gives us good racing. We had a great scorecard
this week but we have had to fight for every metre.
"It's one of our first events back after Rio so it was great for me and
Will and we look forward to building on this through the year now.”
The two teams that pushed Belcher and Ryan the most were Carl-Fredrik Fock
and Marcus Dackhammar (SWE) and Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis (GRE).
The Swedish team claimed silver and the Greeks recovered from a disastrous
fourth day to keep hold of bronze.
World #1 Women's 470 team, Afrodite Zegers and Annaloes van Veen (NED) made
it three straight regatta wins in Hyères, backing up their World Cup Series
Miami win and Trofeo Princesa Sofia victories.
Despite the victory, Zegers first thoughts were on improvement when she
reached ashore at the end of the day, "We didn't have a good race
because we had a good start. But I am happy that we stayed cool and just did
our best. If I look back at the whole week I am happy with the things that we
have improved and happy with the things we know we still need to work on.”
Zegers and van Veen crossed the line in fifth position in the Medal Race, but
with a gold medal all but confirmed beforehand, the result wouldn't hurt as
much. The same cannot be said for Great Britain's Amy Seabright and Anna
Carpenter. The Britons came in last place, and with it the chance of a medal
The medals instead went to Silvia Mas Depares and Patricia Cantero Reina
(ESP) who claimed silver and Linda Fahrni and Maja Siegenthaler (SUI) who
took bronze. Finishing on equal points, the Spanish team stand one step
higher than their rivals on the podium thanks to a third-place Medal Race
finish compared to the Swiss teams eighth.
As all the winners spray the champagne, wave to the crowd and collect their
medals, focus will now shift to the 2017 World Cup Series Final in Santander,
Spain this coming June.
By Richard Aspland -
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