The Medal Race format in Olympic sailing is designed to create drama and uncertainty, especially when the wind is blowing hard – which it did on the final day of Delta Lloyd Regatta.
Based on previous form, Marcus Hansen and Josh Porebski would have been expected to hold on to gold in the men’s 49er, but an uncharacteristic capsize put them to the back of the fleet. Diego Botin and Iago Lopez seized the moment, won the race, and won Spanish gold.
The top two nations, with three golds apiece, were Australia and the Netherlands. So often the bridesmaid on home waters, PJ Postma finally sealed the deal in the Finn this year. Marit Bouwmeester was dominant in the Laser Radial, and 49er FX team Annemieke Bekkering and Annette Duetz clinched a third gold for the host nation.
Two of Australia’s golds came in the Paralympic classes, the SKUD and the Sonar, with Matt Wearn seeing off his Dutch rival to win the Laser class.
The Polish squad dominated the RS-X windsurfers, with men’s and women’s golds going to Pawel Tarnowski and Maja Dziarnowska respectively. Sweden and Great Britain took their only golds the previous evening in the men’s and women’s 470 Medal Races, and France took its sole gold thanks to Damien Seguin’s comfortable victory in the 2.4mR Paralympic singlehander.
The very last Medal Race of the day proved to be the most dramatic, with two Danes and a Kiwi team locked in a three-way fight for the Nacra 17 medals. While the Swiss led the race from start to finish, the medal battle was taking place at the back of the fleet. Denmark’s Lin Ea Cenholt and Christian Peter Lubeck did just enough to clinch gold.
Just a few metres behind, the other Danish boat of Allan Norregaard and Anette Viborg was about to cross the finish line when they pitchpoled and capsized. Fortunately for them, the Danes crossed the line upside down to cling on to silver, the Kiwis settling for bronze.
It has been a tough, windy week for the 707 teams from 74 nations. The IJselmeer – with its shifty, gusty breeze and short, sharp, unsympathetic chop – always asks the hardest questions of these accomplished sailors. Which is why they keep on coming back, year after year, for more high-quality competition. Next year’s event takes place 24-28 May 2016.