Published: Wednesday, 03 December 2014

Racing at the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates has come to a close.

Medal Races across the 10 Olympic events and Open kite boarding brought things to a close in an exciting finale in the Emirati capital that welcomed 270 competitors from 38 nations over four days of racing.

An 8-12 knot north-westerly breeze tested the competitors on the final day of racing.

Louis Giard (FRA) took a single point lead over Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) into the Men’s RS:X Medal Race and did exactly what was needed to claim gold by taking the race victory.

The young Frenchman has excelled in Abu Dhabi and knew he had to beat Kokkalanis across the line to take the honours. He covered Kokkalanis at the start to edge in front and as the race played out he was able to extend. He made it look seamless with a relaxed approach.

Kokkalanis came through in third, which was enough for silver. Nick Dempsey (GBR) sailed astutely to pick up a fifth giving him bronze.

It was a French one, two and three in the Nacra 17 with strong teams completely dominating the Abu Dhabi race track.

World Champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou (2013, 2014) claimed the title with a fifth in the Medal Race. They were followed by Audrey Ogereau and Matthieu Vandame who took the Medal Race bullet and Moana Vaireaux and Manon Audinet, who despite finishing last, still secured bronze.

It was a week of hard graft for the 49er fleet with no team able to take a stranglehold across the series. In the end Tomasz Januszewski and Jacek Nowak (POL) kept hold of their overnight lead with a Medal Race 10th to secure the pair’s first major title.

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(Photo of Tomasz Januszewski and Jacek Nowak)

Carlos Paz and Beijing 2008 Olympic gold medallist Anton Paz (ESP) were able to claim silver with a fourth in the Medal Race. John Pink and Stu Bithell (GBR) took a third to pick up bronze. For Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign (GBR), a race win wasn’t enough to propel them into the medal positions.

In the 49erFX Women’s fleet New Zealand’s Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech took the gold, while silver went to Lisa Ericson and Hanna Klinga of Sweden. Bronze was taken by Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich (ITA). 

Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) added Men’s 470 ISAF Sailing World Cup Final gold to their impressive haul in 2014. They hold the World and European titles and took the World Cup Final title with a Medal Race fifth.

Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) had a chance to take gold in the Men’s 470 but missed out after they finished sixth. Nonetheless they walk away with silver. Stu McNay and Dave Hughes (USA) picked up the final podium position while the race win went to Austria’s David Bargehr and Lukas Mähr.

In the Women’s 470, the Japanese due Al Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka took the bronze, while China’s Shasha Chen and Halyan Gao came away in fifth place. Austria’s Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar got the gold, while Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) walked away with silver. 

In the Laser Men’s event, Tom Burton of Australia came in first place, while Croatia’s Tonci Stipanović claimed second and Jean Baptiste Bernaz came away with third. 

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(Photo of Evi Acker)

Evi Van Acker (BEL) praised Abu Dhabi as she put in a professional showing in the Laser Radial Medal Race, taking the race win and ISAF Sailing World Cup Final glory.

Tenkanen (FIN) finished behind Van Acker and pushed up into the silver medal position. Rindom (DEN) ended up eighth, which relegated her to third overall.

Although no Asian entries took a podium place in the RS:X Women’s, China’s Manjia Zheng came in fourth and Hong Kong’s Hei Man Hayley Victoria Chan came in fifth overall. 

In a four-way single race shoot out for the Open Kite boarding title, Great Britain’s Oliver Bridge used his exceptional speed to blow away the competition.

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(Photo of Oliver Bridge)

Bridge has been exciting to watch on the race track with blistering pace that none of his rivals have been able to contend with.

After a tense semi-final Bridge qualified through to the final alongside 2014 World Champion Maxime Nocher (FRA), 2013 World Champion Florian Gruber (GER) and regular podium finisher Florian Trittel (ESP).

Nocher fought hard to catch Bridge but was unable to match him. Gruber fended off Trittel to complete the podium.

The sailors’ attention now turns to the 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup series. Melbourne, Australia plays host to the first 2015 Abu Dhabi Final qualification regatta with racing scheduled to start on Dec 8, 2014.