ISAF Sailing World Championships come to a 'golden' end in Perth

Dorian van Russelberghe of the Netherlands celebrates winning the World Championship with Ivan Pastor of Spain on day 16 after the RS:X Men’s Windsurfer Medal Race of the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships on December 18, 2011 in Perth
The closing day of the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Perth, Australia allowed for the very best of grandstand sailing to be displayed in the midst champagne conditions. Spectators snapped up every available seat and space around Bathers Bay to watch as the final four world titles were decided in the women’s 470, 49er, men’s RS:X, and Laser classes.

A large crowd gathered in the Worlds Village to watch the final medal presentations and closing ceremony ahead of fireworks and a farewell party for athletes, officials and volunteers on the shore at Bathers Bay. The ISAF World Championships for ten Olympic classes were held over sixteen days with some 1100 athletes from 79 countries sailing for both a world title and to qualify their country for next year’s London Olympic Games.

Spain’s Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos were rewarded for a consistent week of sailing to be crowned Women’s 470 world champions. Great Britain’s Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark led from start to finish in the Medal Race to take the silver medal. New Zealand’s Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie surprised everyone, including themselves, by winning bronze on the final day of competition on Sunday.

Perth, WA - December 18: Tara Pacheco, Berta Betanzos in the women's 470 medal race, Women's 470 December 18 2011 off Fremantle, Australia. (Photo by Richard Langdon) ?Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships, 3rd-18th December 2011.? Perth 2011 image.??For further information please contact richard@oceanimages.co.uk +44 7850 913500 +61 478 221797??© Richard Langdon. Image copyright free for editorial use. This image may not be used for any other purpose without the express prior written per

With an 11-point lead going into the final, Pacheco and Betanzos’ seventh place in the Medal Race was enough to secure overall victory. Despite the buffer, the Spanish pair was far from confident they had the world title wrapped up. 'The others are really good and you have to do a hard job,' Betanzos said. 'Finally we did it and we could get it, that is not easy.'

'It wasn’t our goal for this week so we’ve definitely over passed our goals,' Clark (GBR) said. 'It’s all about next year for us really.'

New Zealand duo Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie exceeded their expectations for the event, finishing third in the Medal Race to clinch the Bronze medal after starting the day in fourth position overall. 'We came here just to qualify the country basically, so to come away with a medal is a real bonus,' Powrie said. Aleh and Powrie’s unexpected success and medal came at the expense of Israel’s Gil Cohen and Vered Buskila, whose eighth place in the Medal Race cost them any hope of Bronze.

Australia’s Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen confirmed their world number one ranking in the 49er skiff fleet with a world championship winning performance in the Medal Race on Sunday. Finishing the regatta with 91 points overall, the Australian pair secured Gold ahead of silver medalists Peter Burling and Tuke Blair (NZL). Denmark’s Emil Toft Nielsen and Simon Toft Nielsen who took Bronze. 'It’s amazing,' Jensen said of the title win. 'They haven’t had a world title for a couple of years now and in the last one we were second, so it’s good to not be the bridesmaids anymore I guess.'

Outteridge and Jensen turned in a steady performance to finish fourth in the Medal Race, which was enough to give them a gold medal and qualify Australia for the London 2012 Olympics in the 49ers event.

Burling and Tuke, who were 21 points behind the Australians with a score of 112, were happy with their result. Emil Toft Nielsen and Simon Toft Nielsen (DEN) took the bronze medal, finishing third place overall. 'We are very excited about securing the bronze medal,' Simon Toft Nielsen said. 'It's been a long, tough week for us and pulling it off in the end feels really, really good.'

Netherlands’ sailor Dorian van Rijsselberghe capped off an outstanding week of sailing, holding off defending champion Piotr Myszka (POL) to make the RS:X world title his own in the final Medal Race on Sunday. 'It means satisfaction for the last three years,' van Rijsselberghe said when he returned to Bathers Bay beach from the Centre Course. 'I have shown that I am on top of the game, so it’s really good for me.'

Perth, WA - December 18: Dorian van Rijsselberghe celebrating his win in the RSX mens Medal race, RSX Men December 18 2011 off Fremantle, Australia. (Photo by Richard Langdon) ?Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships, 3rd-18th December 2011.? Perth 2011 image.??For further information please contact richard@oceanimages.co.uk +44 7850 913500 +61 478 221797??© Richard Langdon. Image copyright free for editorial use. This image may not be used for any other purpose without the express prior wr

With just one point separating van Rijsselberghe and Piotr Myszka (POL) going into the final day of sailing, competition on the water was fierce. But despite his best efforts, the defending world champion couldn’t keep his Dutch rival from securing the Gold, with Myszka settling for Silver. 'I was waiting for some mistake, but he made none,' Myszka said. 'He’s a world champion, he knows what to do and he protected himself really well. I couldn’t do anything.'

While van Rijsselberghe and Myszka battled for Gold, Poland’s Przemyslaw Miarczynski and Nimrod Mashich (ISR) fought for Bronze, with the Israeli managing to push Miarczynski out of the top three. Both sailors ended with 52 points overall, but on a count-back Mashich took the bronze. 'Miarczynski is a really experienced sailor. I don’t know how many medals this guy has won in his life so it was very hard racing him today,' Mashich said.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 18: Dorian van Russelberghe of the Netherlands returns to shore after winning the World Championship on day 16 after the RS:X Men's Windsurfer Medal Race of the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships on December 18, 2011 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Perth 2011)

Mashich, the world number two, said he was 'really, really happy' to be taking a medal home. 'I really wanted to win but they [van Rijsselberghe and Myszka] are really incredible sailors so I did the maximum I could do and that’s it.'

Australia’s Tom Slingsby cruised home comfortably on the final day of racing, winning Sunday’s Medal Race to secure a 19-point victory overall to claim his fourth world Laser crown. In the final race of the regatta, Slingsby somersaulted from his boat into the water in front of cheering fans, lifting the host nation to a table-topping three world titles and leaving a handful of other sailors to battle it out for the other two podium spots.

Perth, WA - December 18: Tom Slinsgby, Nick Thompson, Andrew Murdoch Medal Ceremony, Mens Laser December 18 2011 off Fremantle, Australia. (Photo by Richard Langdon) ?Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships, 3rd-18th December 2011.? Perth 2011 image.??For further information please contact richard@oceanimages.co.uk +44 7850 913500 +61 478 221797??© Richard Langdon. Image copyright free for editorial use. This image may not be used for any other purpose without the express prior written per

For Slingsby, a winner of six races off Fremantle, it was a fifth visit to the Laser dais having won the crown in 2007, 2008 and 2010 after collecting silver in 2006. On his fourth world title, Slingsby said:

'This is definitely one of the best. Sailing, you’re often off in the ocean and no one can see but to have it here and a grandstand all cheering your name chanting ‘Tom’, I haven’t had that happen before so it’s a pretty amazing feeling. You feel like a real sports star. 'I’m really happy with the way I’m going. To me, I feel like I’m improving all the time. I’m a lot better sailor than I was four years ago and I think it’s going to show this time around.'

Great Britain’s Nick Thompson collected the Silver medal with a second place finish in the Medal Race and 56 points overall. 'I’m over the moon. It would have been almost impossible to beat Tom and that was the best result that I could have come away with, so I’m absolutely ecstatic,' he said.

New Zealander Andrew Murdoch was elated with the bronze medal, his third world Laser bronze to go with a silver from 2007, saying he would now celebrate by starting his summer holidays. 'It was so close, it was like starting all over again,' he said. 'I just had to keep a boat between me and the German (Simon Groteluschen),' he said.

Groteluschen was unhappy not taking home an expected medal after starting the day second on overall points. 'I was very disappointed because I had a big crash with the Austrian guy (Andreas Geritzer), and then I fell back and it was hard to come back.'

Australia was awarded the IOC President’s Cup for collecting the most Gold medals at Perth 2011. Head Coach of the Australian Sailing Team, Victor Kovalenko, accepted the award telling fellow competitors 'we are friends not rivals' and congratulated everyone on the success of the regatta.

USA Match Racing skipper Anna Tunnicliffe was named TAG Heuer Female Sailor of the week, Australia’s Tom Slingsby was Male Sailor of the week and Moldova’s Alex Denisuic won the Emerging Nations Programme rising star TAG Heuer award.

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