There was double French gold in the RS:X fleets at the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships as Julien Bontemps claimed the men's title and Charline Picon picked up the women's. Picon had sealed Women's RS:X gold overnight whilst Bontemps had a comfortable lead in the men's and needed a solid race to seal the deal.
With tough sailing conditions on the Duna Course that saw winds gust up to 25 knots there was plenty of shuffles in the pack as the action played out in front of a capacity crowd and a worldwide TV audience.
Przemyslaw Miarczynski (POL) took silver and Thomas Goyard (FRA) took bronze in the men's fleet. The home crowd had something to cheer about in the women's division as Spain's Marina Alabau sealed silver ahead of Maayan Davidovich (ISR).
Re-live the action here:
Men's and Women's RS:X Reports Courtesy of Olga Maslivets, International RS:X Class Association, pic Vincenzo Baglione
It was a difficult start with the fleet split up into two groups with half lining up on starboard and the others crossing behind on port. With tensions high and hearts pumping, the individual recall flag prompted medal contender Piotr Myszka (POL) to come back and restart but it was clear that others were also over the line at the start as the flag remained on the race committee boat.
Greece's Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) rounded the windward mark first, followed by Louis Giard (FRA) and Le Coq (FRA) but the real battle was playing out behind the trio as all three were scored OCS.
With the race leaders out of contention, overnight leader Julien Bontemps (FRA) looking increasingly assured of the gold medal. With the pack bunched up together, the left hand side of the course was the place to go upwind and downwind. With choppy waves rebounding back off the Dune, unpredictability at the bottom gate caused Kokkalanis, Dorian van Rijsselberge (NED) and Kiran Badloe (NED) to lose control and drop their sails in the water to oos and aahs from the crowd.
On the final lap Thomas Goyard (FRA) showed impressive speed, climbing through the fleet to take the bullet and with it the bronze medal. An outstanding achievement for the young Frenchman whose best achievement in advance of Santander was a sixth at the recent RS:X European Championship in Alcati, Turkey. After racing he was super happy and couldn't believe he won a medal.
Bontemps finished behind his compatriot and sealed his second RS:X world title and the celebrations commenced.
Miarczynski sailed conservatively throughout the race to protect his podium position. He came through in third to pick up silver and his fourth RS:X world championship medal. Badloe, Dempsey and Van Rijsselberge finished fourth to sixth respectively.
Myszka walked away frustrated after he missed out on bronze following a pre-race equipment inspection penalty of two points. He ended up tied on 60 points with Goyard and lost out on bronze after he finished behind the young Frenchman in the Medal Race.
The Women's RS:X started after the Men's fleet in a comfortable but puffy 15-18 knots. The start was slightly delayed due to the big ship leaving the harbour.
There was no surprise on the start as all the girls started on starboard with a brilliant one for Flavia Tartaglini (ITA), Bryony Shaw (GBR) and Jiahui Wu (CHN). Charline Picon (FRA) had the medal in her pocket so didn't take any risks and started a few seconds after the starting gun. Despite being a late starter Picon's incredible speed and very smart sailing through the shifts saw her win the Medal Race.
Tartaglini had quite comfortable lead over Wu but a few late tacks dropped her to fifth at the finish and sixth overall. Santander 2014 didn't come easy for Tartaglini who looks forward to a good rest and proper winter training. Wu kept her second till the finish and jumped to fourth overall. Wu, who finished second at ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres this year, is aiming for a medal at the 2014 Worlds as she is pretty happy with her current speed.
The fight for silver between Maayan Davidovich (ISR) and Marina Alabau (ESP) played out to the finish with Alabau pipping the Israeli at the finish to take silver. The home nation sailor had an extremely good second half of the event and feels she is on the right track to reach the heights of Picon who has set very high standards. Davidovich who has bronze from the 2012 RS:X Worlds felt quite comfortable and relaxed during the event and is happy with her sailing and is looking forward to improving the colour of her medal next time out.