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Nations earn Olympic qualification at the Last Chance Regatta

by International Laser Class Association 30 Apr 04:55 BST 20-27 April 2024
55th Semaine Olympique Française – Toulon Provence Méditerranée. Last Chance Regatta © Sailing Energy / Semaine Olympique Française

The Last Chance Regatta finished early with the Medal Race in heavy rain and shifty winds at French Olympic Week (SOF).

With gusts ranging from 30-40 knots and wind speed steadily over 25 knots, the last races were grounded, and Friday's rankings became the final overall rankings for the ILCA 6 and ILCA 7 sailors.

In the ILCA 6 division, American Charlotte Rose wins the SOF - Qualified Nations Regatta ahead of Dutch sailor Marit Bouwmeester and Norwegian Line Flem Hoest.

"I didn't expect to win here in Hyères, so I'm really satisfied with the work I delivered. The conditions were a bit tricky because we could only start racing on Tuesday. It took everything we had, and I'm proud of what I did," commented Charlotte Rose.

Among the ILCA 6 sailors attempting to qualify for the Olympics at the Last Chance Regatta, Ebru Bolat had already earned an Olympic spot for Romania before the medal races. She was joined in the select group who will be heading to Marseille by Cyprus's Marilena Makri and Nethra Kumanan of India, all three of whom have benefited from World Sailing's Emerging Nations Program coaching. Lin Pletikos of Slovenia also claimed an Olympic place.

Ebru told World Sailing, "I've worked a lot on my mental preparation since the Worlds in Argentina where on the last day I couldn't manage the pressure.

"I knew it was one of the biggest things I had to improve, and I'm very happy with how I kept focused. Even after the disqualification, I just kept pushing through and nothing was going to stop me."

The World Sailing Emerging Nations Program (ENP) aims to close the performance gap between countries competing at the international level, as well as help to increase the number of nations attending the Olympics who may not normally be able to send sailors due to coaching or budgetary restrictions.

In the ILCA 7 division, SOF - Qualified Nations Regatta, Englishman Michael Beckett is declared the grand winner ahead of Australian Matt Wearn. German sailor Philipp Buhl takes the bronze medal.

"This week has been tough and challenging. It was cold, and we had a lot of wind and a lot of irregularities in its strength. I'm really happy to have won here in Hyères," confided Michael Beckett.

For the Last Chance Regatta ILCA 7 nations, Estonian Karl-Martin Rammo and Khairulnizam Mohd Afendy of Malaysia, were certain they had secured a qualifying spot before the final day, and their fellow ENP-backed athlete Enrique Arathoon of El Salvador joined them in earning a country place in a competition won by South Korea's Jeemin Ha.

Mohd Afendy, who is headed for his fourth Olympics, said to World Sailing, "I think this was one of the longest weeks of my life. I managed to qualify - and I have no words to describe it. I'm so happy and this is also for my family back home."

Mayor of the city of Hyères and President of Toulon Provence Méditerranée, Jean-Pierre Giran, commented, "The 55th French Olympic Sailing Week was once again the scene of exceptional races on the magnificent nautical 'stadium' bordered by the Golden Isles in the Hyères harbor. All meteorological conditions were met to distinguish the nearly 1000 competitors from 89 countries in the 10 Olympic sailing classes and to allocate the last qualifying spots for the Olympics. Despite significant safety constraints, this event was a real success and dress rehearsal less than 100 days from the Games. I want to thank all the municipal teams as well as the numerous volunteers for their contribution and involvement in the organization of this major nautical event in our region. Finally, I wish good luck to all the competitors who will compete for an Olympic medal in a few months."

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