African Laser and Laser Radial Championship 2015 – The wind on the last day of the African Laser and Laser Radial Championship in Algiers defied the forecast and turned on another good day with only a slight delay at the start.
In the women’s fleet, Imene Cherif Sahraoui ALG, delighted the home fans by rounding the first mark clear ahead of Khouloud Mansi EGY and Ines Gmati TUN. She held on to her lead on the reach to the outer loop and on the downwind. But the wind was increasing into conditions that previously favoured the Tunisian and Egyptian sailors in their three way fight to the finish for the African title and the two Olympic country places. After passing the downwind gate Cherif Sahraoui put in a short covering tack while Mansi and Gmati headed out to sea on the left hand side of the course. When Gmati tacked to cross, a quarter of the way into the leg, she was clearly travelling faster than Mansi and Cherif Sahraoui and slowly ground down her opponents to take the lead. The Algerian still had a chance of an Olympic place if only she could hold on to second until the last downwind when she should, according to previous form, be faster due to her lighter weight.
As the 18 year old Tunisian extended her lead, the Algerian kept her second place which she held downwind to finish second in the race, second overall and winner of the second Olympic country split only by the number of first places achieved in the breath taking three-way tie break.
The men’s fleet was equally thrilling. With the title already won Youssef Akrout from Tunisia scored another bullet – not that anyone had any doubt that he fully deserved to win the title. The main interest was on the fight for the remaining places and the one remaining Olympic country place after Seychelles secured their place on the previous day.
Akrout rounded the first mark in the lead closely followed by Manuel Lelo ANG and the Seychelles pair of Rodney Govinden and Allan Juilie, Ahmed Ragab EGY and Idris Bouhadda ALG all fighting for places prizes or the Olympic country place. Unknown to the group Bouhadda had jumped the start and would end up discarding his final race result.
On the downwind Juile capsized and withdrew from the race but still Ragab needed to overtake Govinden to finish third to win the Olympic country place. All Lelo could do was sail his best. Ragab took his chance to pass Govinden in the increasing wind on the second upwind to finish overall one point ahead of Lelo.
Showing great sportsmanship which typified the spirit of this first African Olympic qualifier Lelo was the first to sail up and congratulate Ragab.
On shore the press, TV and supporters were crazy as the multiple celebrations started for the four African countries that qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Overall Positions after 10 races with 1 discard (all competitors – entry limit of two per country):
Women’s Laser Radial
1. Ines GMATI TUN 18pts (2,3,3,4,1,1,2,1,[ufd],1)
2. Imene Cherif Sahraoui ALG 18pts (1,2,1,2,3,3,1,, 2,3)
3. Khouloud Mansi EGY 18pts (3,1,2,3,2,2,,2,1,2)
4. Noha Akil ALG 35pts (5,6,4,5,[dsq],4,3,5,3,4)
5. Alison Hoareau SEY 46pts (4,4,5,1,6,5,7,, 7,7)
6. Olvya Bakry EGY 50pts (7,5,7,6,5,, 5,6,4,5)
7. Nada Bassossi TUN 55 pts (, 8,8,8,4,7,6,3,5,6)
8. Maoia Mabyaia MOZ 60 pts (6,7,6,7,7,6,8,7,6,[dsq])
1. Youssef Akrout TUN 9pts (1,1,[ufd],1,1,1,1,1,1,1)
2. Rodney Govinden SEY 34pts (6,3,1,5,,2,6,3,4,4)
3. Allan Julie SEY 35pts 5,4,6,2,8,3,3,2,2,[dnf] 4. Ahmed Ragab EGY 40pts ([ufd],9,5,7,2,4,2,5,3,3)
5. Manuel Lelo ANG 41pts (2,2,3,5,7,7,6,7,2)
6. Idris Bouhadda ALG 49pts ([ufd],5,2,6,3,9,4,4,5,ufd)
7. Sherif Moustafa EGY 50pts (4,,4,3,6,6,8,8,6,5)
8. Wassim Ziani ALG 53pts (3,6,, 8,4,5,5,7,8,7)
9. Seif Dhaouadi TUN 66pts (7,7,7,4,, 8,9,9,9,6
10. Halife Mpondi TAN 85pts (8,,9,10,10,10,10,10,10,10)
by Jeff Martin