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Down To The Business End At ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca
ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca – Trofeo Princesa Sofia got down to the business end of proceedings as the final series concluded with Saturday 5 April's Medal Races to decide the honours.
Helena Lucas (GBR) took the 2.4mR gold as the Paralympic event concluded racing whilst Nacra 17, Laser Radial and Women's RS:X gold medals were sealed with a day to spare.
A strong morning breeze, precipitation and cloud cover were present early on in the day but as proceedings progressed the westerly breeze gradually decreased. Warm temperatures and sun meant a few extra smiles in the boat parks in the afternoon with a range of 8-15 knots on Palma Bay.
Helena Lucas (GBR) took gold in the 2.4mR despite losing out to compatriot Megan Pascoe (GBR) in all three races on the final day of Paralympic event sailing as Pascoe was made to settle for silver.
Lucas took an 11th and two thirds as she won by three points, "The first race was a complete nightmare. We were really close to the shore and the wind died – there were some crazy shifts going on and I was just relieved when that race was over,” confessed the 38-year-old.
"It was one of those painful races where whatever I did was wrong.
"It's been one of those days where it felt like everything was stacked against you a little bit, but it was a solid third in the other two races.
"I knew I just needed to kind of keep in solid and finish inside the top three in both of those races and it would all be fine, but it was definitely a tricky day.”
Norway's Bjornar Erikstad took the day and won all three of the 2.4mR races finishing ahead of Pascoe who picked up three second places. Erikstad's final day performance ensured a bronze for the Norwegian.
2013 World Champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA) won gold in the Nacra 17 with a day to spare.
Besson and Riou finished out of the top eight spots for the first time on the penultimate day of racing with a 31st in Race 10. They discarded the result and came back stronger in Race 11 to take the bullet. A seventh in the 12th race of the series sealed the deal ahead of the Medal Race.
ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami gold medallists Vittorio Bissaro and Silvia Sicouri (ITA) came out flying to post a 2-2-3 and move into second overall. Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank (AUT) moved up into third as overnight podium holders Darren Bundock and Nina Curtis (AUS) and Franck Cammas and Sophie de Turckheim (FRA) slipped out of the medal spots.
Marit Bouwmeester's (NED) consistent week of racing paid off as she sealed the deal in the Laser Radial. Bouwmeester only finished out of the top three twice all week and only two seventh place finishes, one of which she discards, scars an excellent score card.
The Dutch sailor tops the leader board on 22 points followed by Finland's Tuula Tenkanen on 48 points and Evi Van Acker (BEL) on 62 points.
Three races took place on the fifth day of racing with the race victories going to Van Acker, Maria Erdi (HUN) and Marie Barrue (FRA).
Charline Picon (FRA) showed that consistency pays dividends within the Women's RS:X fleet and holds an unassailable 42 point lead to take gold with a day to spare.
The French racer finished in the top nine in all of the 12 Women's RS:X races building up to the Medal Race and will take to the race course on the final day without any pressure.
It's a different case behind the French girl with seven points splitting second to fifth. Lilian De Geus (NED), Blanca Manchon (ESP), Bryony Shaw (GBR) and Flavia Tartaglini (ITA) all have a fighting chance of taking a podium spot which will make for an intriguing Medal Race.
Despite holding onto their lead Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) admitted to finding the going tough in three 49erFX races, "Everybody has had bad days, we had ours today,” said Kunze. "Today was a little bit more difficult. The direction of the wind was changing all the time but I'm happy because we've had a really nice week of racing. We've done what we wanted to do and reach our goals.”
The Brazilians recorded a seventh, a discarded 20th and a final race bullet to go into three final 49erFX races with a four point lead over Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen (DEN). On the final day Kunze added, "We'll sail our best and see what happens.”
Nielsen and Olsen put themselves to within touching distance of the Brazilians after three bullets the day prior but were unable to capitalise and take the initiative. They discard a 19th in the opening race of the day and count a 12th and a third. Olsen said, "The racing so far has been really good, we are second overall at the moment and we are happy with that.”
Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth (GBR) are third overall on 77 points.
France's Camille Lecointre and Hélène Defrance have a bit of daylight in between themselves and New Zealand's Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie ahead of the Medal Race.
Both crews are guaranteed medals on the final day but the advantage going into the deciding race belongs to the French pair who are seven points clear.
The French and Kiwi teams had strong days on the water whilst the chasing fleet were unable to match their consistency. Lecointre and Defrance recorded an 8-2-1 scoreline whilst Aleh and Powrie had a slightly better day picking up a 3-1-6.
After racing Powrie said, "We had three races today to catch up from yesterday so we had a pretty good day, single figures so we're happy with that. Medal Races are always a bit of fun so we'll see how we get on.”
Aleh added, "It was a pretty tricky day, we had wind, no wind, lots of wind, nothing, big waves and it got at bit crazy at times but it was good fun. We had two good races but the last one we stuffed up a little bit but not too bad, three decent races.”
Both crews will battle for gold on the final day of racing.
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR) slipped into third after an up and down day. They brought themselves into contention for gold by taking the first bullet of the day but a 16th and a 19th in the ensuing races meant they fell off the tail of the leaders. Nonetheless they are on track for bronze and are four points clear of Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Luiza Barbachan (BRA).
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