Italy’s Alessio Spadoni and Great Britain’s Connor Bainbridge were among the big movers on an idyllic penultimate day at the Allianz Regatta.
Conditions were as good as they get. The sun shone all day and the wind picked up to 12 knots, rising to 18 when the thermals kicked in to make for an exciting day’s racing. Dutch duo Bart Lambriex and Floris van de Werken wrapped up the 49er title with the medal race to spare as home crews continue to set the pace. They are the first champions crowned in Almere and likely not the last from the host nation.
Maxime Jonker pulled off two memorable wins in ILCA 6, twice pipping 2016 Olympic champion Marit Bouwmeester to statement victories, while Duko Bos showed his class in ILCA 7. Spadoni and Bainbridge’s spurts of form, added to French struggles in the Formula Kite classes, were a timely reminder than momentum can quickly change ahead of Sunday’s all-important medal races.
Lambriex and Van de Werken work their magic
Double world champions Lambriex and Van de Werken are clearly the class of the 49er fleet and have led the regatta from start to finish, bagging their eighth bullet of the week in Saturday’s first heat. They have built an unassailable 30-point lead on Australia’s Thomas Needham and Joel Turner, enough to secure gold with the medal race yet to come. Helm Lambriex said: “The breeze was a bit like the first day of racing, pretty stable, which suits us well. We felt quick enough and had some decent starts. “We’ll celebrate tonight but not too much!”
Crew van de Werken added: “We don’t have a medal race like this very often, so we might practise something new, or stay out of trouble and let the rest do their thing.”
Van Opzeeland holds firm
It was a mixed day for iQFOil Men leader Luuc van Opzeeland, who took tenth and then first, but his lead stands at 22 points. There are four points between second and fourth, with Van Opzeeland’s compatriot Huig-Jan Tak two points ahead of Aruba’s Ethan Westera, who is two points in front of Michal Polak of Poland.
Bos keeps his cool
ILCA 6 and 7 have been the closest-fought classes this week but Dutch sailors were able to open up nine-point advantages heading into the medal race. Duko Bos is in pole position for ILCA 7 gold but silver and bronze remain up for grabs. Having banked both bullets on Friday, the Rotterdam native stressed the importance of keeping his cool and he did exactly that with first and second in the two heats. Bos takes a commanding lead down the stretch but only four points separate second and fourth. The sailor in form is Italy’s Alessio Spadoni, second behind Bos in the first heat and victorious in the second, closing the gap on bronze to just two points. Spadoni said: “The conditions were quite nice, it was a wonderful day. “My plan for the medal race is just to sail my own race. We don’t have to watch out for each other, if you stay in front, you’ll probably get on the podium.”
Bos’ closest challenger, Valtteri Uusitalo, seems to be heading in the opposite direction after taking sixth and 11th, his worst performances of the week.
Jonker’s perfect day
In ILCA 6, Maxime Jonker took two wins from two to leave the fleet trailing in her wake. Jonker’s pair of victories were all the more impressive as compatriot and three-time Olympic medallist Marit Bouwmeester finished second in both. Plenty is still to be decided elsewhere. Julia Buesselberg’s grip on silver was loosened in Saturday’s second heat as she was beaten to the line by Marissa Ijben, who closed to within three points of the German. Jonker said: “It feels good, not only the results, but the sailing was good. The whole week has felt like medal racing sailing, it’s always good and different and I’ll use it as good practice for the World Championships.”
Bainbridge on the charge
Great Britain’s Connor Bainbridge was the day’s big mover, taking successive heat wins to climb the Formula Kite Men rankings. He said: “I think my main rival is going to be Axel, he’s been so consistent throughout the whole week.” After a tricky Friday that saw him finish 11th and 19th, the 29-year-old turned things around as regatta leader Axel Mazella of France was forced to settle for a pair of fifth places. It was a similar story on the women’s side as French star Poema Newland lost her grip on top spot, chiefly due to a tough opening heat that saw her cross the line in 19th. Dutch rival Annelous Lammerts was in place to capitalise, finishing first and second to climb atop the standings heading into the final day.