Allianz Sailing World Championships
Keiju Okada and Miho Yoshioka celebrated a sensational 470 gold on a brilliant day for Japan while Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti retained their Nacra 17 crown at the Allianz Sailing World Championships.
Okada and Yoshioka had guaranteed top spot in the Mixed 470 even before the medal race, and were joined on the podium by compatriots Tetsuya Isozaki and Yurie Seki in bronze.
That followed the first medal ceremony in Scheveningen with Tita and Banti (ITA) confirming their status as the king and queen of the Nacra 17 by winning the medal race in the class they have dominated all week.
Keiju Okada and Miho Yoshioka dominated the 470 class from start to finish at these Allianz Sailing World Championships, meaning that they could enjoy the medal race with the pressure off.
They did just that as they eased to fifth place, celebrating their world title a year after coming seventh in this class.
And after launching a new boat for these championships, Okada admitted that they could not have asked for anything more.
He said: “We have had a really good time at these World Championships this week. We have won the 470 Nations Cup and are world champions, so we are very happy. I think our boat speed has been very good. Downwind today it was a bit shifty and a little bit light but that was good for us.”
Yoshioka was delighted with their performance.
“I’m so happy,” she grinned. “Ichiban! [No.1].”
The battle for medals behind the top Japanese duo was the main intrigue on Thursday, and Jordi Xammar and Nora Brugman (ESP) started fast on their way to fourth, comfortably enough to secure the silver medal.
It then got very tight behind them, with Tetsuya Isozaki and Yurie Seki joining Okada and Yoshioka on the podium thanks to their third-place finish in the medal race – with just four points splitting third and sixth.
Rolex World Sailors of the Year Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti were not mathematically guaranteed gold before the start of the Nacra 17 medal race, but any thoughts that they might relinquish their title were quickly banished.
Needing only to avoid disaster, the Italians showed that there is no one who can match their speed in The Hague, racing to victory by more than 300 metres despite Dutch duo Laila van der Meer and Bjarne Bouwer making the fastest start.
“We had good speed this week,” said Tita. “That meant we didn’t have to take too much risk on the starts and it made our job easy.
“The level of the fleet is really high and everyone played really hard in these championships.
“We have been lucky this week, all week.”
Luck, maybe, but not only, as Banti explained: “He wants to be nice with this but he knows it’s not only luck, it’s hard work, really hard work behind.”
Behind the Italians, a fast finish from Emil Jarudd and Hanna Jonsson (SWE) saw them secure
second place in the medal race and bronze overall at the expense of the Dutch.
Tita and Banti’s training partners John Gimson and Anna Burnet (GBR) came sixth in the medal race with their silver medal all but guaranteed ahead of the action.
A top two is starting to emerge in the ILCA 7 with Micky Beckett (GBR) and Matt Wearn (AUS) starting to move clear of the field.
Beckett recovered from a difficult position in the second race of the day to finish eighth, and still holds an 11-point lead over Wearn.
The bigger gap comes after the Australian however, with George Gautrey (NZL) 21 points back in third, followed closely by Pavlos Kontides (CYP) and Jean-Baptiste Bernaz (FRA).
Belgium’s two-time world champion Emma Plasschaert moved into top spot in the ILCA 6 standings but there are still a host of contenders battling for the title.
Victorious in 2018 and 2021, Plasschaert did not have the perfect start, finishing just 15th in the first race of the day, but she bounced back with a second, which was enough to overhaul
Maria Erdi (HUN), who entered the day first.
Plasschaert sits on 42 points, one clear of Erdi, while Maud Jayet (SUI) – last year’s silver medallist – had a strong day to move up to third, while Josefin Olsson (SWE) is fourth, with 11 points splitting the top four.
A strong day from Nicolo Renna allowed him to open up a gap at the top of the iQFOiL Men standings, the Italian finishing the day with a bullet.
Sitting on 28 points, he has a lead of 11.3 points over defending champion Sebastian Kordel (GER) with Luuc van Opzeeland (NED) now back in third, albeit, just 0.7 points back.
Two wins were enough to keep Emma Wilson (GBR) in top spot in the iQFOiL Women with an 11-point lead over Shahar Tibi, the first of three Israelis in the top five.
Her compatriot Katy Spychakov is third, with fellow Israeli Paris Test Event winner Sharon Kantor in fifth, either side of defending champion Marta Maggetti (ITA).
There were five different winners in the Formula Kite Men, including Toni Vodisek (SLO), who stays top of the pile.
The defending champion sits on 22 points, one clear of Maximilian Maeder (SGP) while Riccardo Pianosi (ITA) is up to third after 16 races.
Meanwhile, in the Formula Kite Women, Lauriane Nolot (FRA) finished the day with two bullets to consolidate her place at the top of the standings. She leads by six points from Ellie Aldridge (GBR), who has now opened up a 25-point lead over compatriot Lily Young in third.