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Hempel World Cup Series Genoa - Day 6: First medals go to Australia, The Netherlands and Spain

by Daniel Smith, World Sailing 20 Apr 19:27 BST 15-21 April 2019
Odile van Aanholt and Marieke Jongens (NED) - Hempel World Cup Series Genoa © Jesus Renedo / Sailing Energy / World Sailing

Hempel World Cup Series Genoa delivered the first three medals as Dutch, Australian and Spanish sailors claimed titles in the 49erFX, 49er and Nacra 17.

Odile van Aanholt and Marieke Jongens (NED) won the 49erFX Medal Race, moving up two places to win gold before Australian brothers David and Lachy Gilmour sealed the deal in the 49er. A second in the Nacra 17 Medal Race helped Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets (ESP) overturn a seven-point deficit to claim a hard earned gold.

Racing was scheduled to start at 10:00 local time but a light wind meant the racing was delayed by an hour. When the first Medal Race kicked off, 5-6 knots of western breeze played out across the racing area before it picked up to 6-7 knots.

The 49erFX fleet were the first fleet to sail. Heading into the Medal Race, the advantage was with Italy's Carlotta Omari and Matilda Distefano who led Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen (DEN) by four points. The Dutch team were eight points off the lead in third.

Van Aanholt and Jongens started conservatively in the middle of the pack and read the shifting conditions on the race track well. They kept manoeuvres to a minimum, maintained good speed and grabbed the lead at the first mark. From there the pair retained the lead through to the finish, hoping results would go their way for them to grab gold.

Steph Roble and Maggie Shea (USA) put themselves in contention for a medal by keeping close behind the Dutch team. Meanwhile, the leading Italians and Danes were towards the back end of the fleet.

Omari and Distefano came through in seventh which handed the gold to van Aanholt and Jongens as the Italians settled for silver. Baad Nielsen and Olsen followed in ninth which meant they dropped from second to fourth as bronze went to Roble and Shea who finished second in the Medal Race.

"Pffft," said a relieved van Aanholt ashore after racing when asked about the race. "I told Marieke before the race, 'mate, I'm quite nervous.' But she said not to worry about it, that it was just another race and that I could do it. We have a nice base of trust, we always have and that helped us.

"Before the start routine there were lots of shifts. We didn't have a strict plan, we just went with what we saw and it worked out."

Hempel World Cup Series Genoa is one of two Dutch Olympic qualification events in the 49erFX. Van Aanholt and Jongens have given themselves the perfect platform to qualify for Tokyo 2020 as their main rivals Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz finished ninth.

"We're definitely happy but we won't let it get to our heads," said van Aanholt. "We're only half way and anything can happen at the next event. We'll try to do as well at the next regatta. We've been in the top ten a lot and we'll be aiming for another top ten finish."

The Dutch 49erFX qualification for Tokyo 2020 will conclude in Weymouth, Great Britain at the 49erFX European Championships in May.

Holding a six point advantage heading into the final day Australia's Gilmour brothers stayed out of trouble in the 49er Medal Race, claiming a fourth which handed them gold, defeating two Kiwi teams.

As many as seven teams had a realistic chance of claiming a medal heading into the final battle. Starting the day in seventh overall, Croatia's Sime and Mihovil Fantela put serious pressure on the fleet and at one point moved up into a medal spot.

There were several ups and downs throughout the race as the predicted medal table continuously changed.

Kévin Fischer and Yann Jauvin (FRA) took the Medal Race win but were never in contention for a medal. They were followed by Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie (NZL) and this propelled the young Kiwis into silver medal position. Their compatriots Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) came through in sixth as they held on to a medal spot.

The Croatians early charge resulted in a third place which saw them miss out on the podium by just four points.

On beating the two New Zealand teams to gold, David Gilmour said, "It's always nice to get one over the Kiwis. They've had a lot of success against us. It's nice to have one now but I'm sure they'll be difficult to deal with in the regattas to come.

"We [the brothers] have been sailing together for the last nine months and this is our first major result. We're stoked at the moment and hopefully we can carry this performance to Weymouth at the Europeans in a few weeks."

The Nacra 17 fleet were the last to complete their Medal Race as the breeze picked up slightly enabling the boats to get up on the foils.

Ben Saxton and Nicola Boniface (GBR) held a seven point lead heading into the Medal Race so the advantage was theirs.

The British team had a tough start and found themselves sandwiched in the pack. Meanwhile the Spaniards, New Zealand's Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders and Argentina's Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli pushed ahead.

Jones and Saunders led at the mid-point but the Spaniards attacked and grabbed the lead. The Argentineans then went on the attack and picked off the Spaniards on the final downwind.

Lange and Saroli claimed the race win which propelled them into the bronze medal position. The Spaniards finished second and when Saxton and Boniface followed in sixth, gold was officially theirs by a single point.

"For us it was important to get a medal today," said Martinez. "We only noticed where the British were on the second upwind. We hadn't noticed them as we were too busy so we fought hard to pass the ones in front.

"We've been working very hard. We have a new boat and we struggled in Palma. We were not fast enough and we weren't good enough. This week was a very light week so we know that we can perform in the light but that doesn't mean we will perform in the medium or strong winds.

"We're still far away from other guys we've beaten this week, Ben for example. The Italians and New Zealand were also very strong this week. We're a long way away from them."

Brazil's Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Luiza Barbachan wrapped up gold with a day to spare in the Women's 470. Three consecutive race wins gives them an unassailable lead of 28 points with just the Medal Race remaining.

The battle on Sunday will be for the remaining podium positions.

Zangjun Xu and Chao Wang (CHN) will enter the Men's 470 Medal Race on 47-points. Paul Snow Hansen and Dan Willcox (NZL) follow on 50 and Kilian Wagen and Gregoire Siegwart (SUI) are third on 57 points. Every sailor in the Men's 470 could make the podium on Sunday.

Heading into the Medal Race, Pavlos Kontides (CYP) holds an eight point advantage over Jonatan Vadnai (HUN). Hermann Tomasgaard (NOR) is in contention for gold, 13 points off but he has four sailors within five points of him so he'll be aiming to keep hold of his podium position rather than fighting for a gold.

As many as six sailors can take gold in the Laser Radial with 14 points separating the leading contenders. Dongshuang Zhang (CHN) leads on eight points, so will be favourite to claim her second Hempel World Cup Series gold in a row. Anne Marie Rindom (DEN) is second on 14 points and Line Flem Høst (NOR) occupies the final podium spot on 15 points.

Alex Muscat (ESP) moved up into first overall in the Finn and leads Jorge Zarif (BRA) by two points ahead of the Medal Race. Early leader Oskari Muhonen (FIN) has dropped out of the podium positions and is eight points off the third placed Joan Cardona Mendez. Muhonen will have his work cut out to move back onto the podium on Sunday.

Racing is scheduled to start at 10:00 local time with the Women's 470 up first. The Men's 470, Finn, Laser Radial and Laser will follow.

The remaining fleets completed fleet racing and the top ten will now advance to Sunday's Medal Races at 10:00 local time which will be live on World Sailing's YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/isafchannel/videos

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