Bainbridge grabs last chance Paris 2024 ticket for Team GB

Connor Bainbridge finally claimed a place in the men’s kite at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games for Great Britain, approximately eight months later than he expected, after a dominant display at the Last Chance Regatta in Hyères.

The 30-year-old secured qualification for Team GB in the Formula Kite ahead of tomorrow’s medal series following a day in which he again dominated the rest of the fleet in the final qualification event for this summer’s Olympics.


Bainbridge, who must now wait for the British Olympic Association selection process next week before knowing for sure if he will travel to Marseille, was tipped to earn a place at the Games at last summer’s Sailing World Championships in The Hague.


After missing out there, he also underperformed at the European Championships on home waters in Portsmouth in the autumn.


Now after a week in which he won eight of 14 races contested as part of the Semaine Olympique Française, he secured a place in the final of the medal series, thereby guaranteeing that Olympic spot.


A relieved Bainbridge said: “It was obviously a pretty stressful regatta. When you name a regatta ‘the Last Chance Regatta,’ it really puts the emphasis on it. 


“Obviously, I missed my opportunity last year at both the Worlds and the Europeans but my coach keeps telling it’s made me stronger and it’s going to give us a better hit at the Olympics.


“It’s a little bit of relief and a little bit of happiness and I’m sure it’ll sink in in a minute, but I can breathe a little bit now. I’m glad it’s done and I’m looking forward to a beer with my coach.”


Bainbridge found himself off the pace after day one of racing here but he has really found his form on the shores of the Mediterranean.


He added: “It was a tricky regatta, and I really didn’t get it right on the first day but after that I tuned into it and got it done.


“It was never going to be easy – everyone was pushing so hard and so there were no easy races and we had to fight all the way to the last minute.”


Poland will also have a kite in Marseille after Maks Zakowski claimed a place in the medal series final. Three more country places remain available and are set to be determined by the outcome of Thursday’s medal series.


In the women’s kite, Elena Lengwiler secured an Olympic place for Switzerland as she continues to look like one of Formula Kite’s emerging talents.


Tipped by some as a potential medal contender after rapid improvement over the last year, Lengwiler recorded 10 bullets from 14 races this week to advance straight to the medal series final and secure a Paris 2024 spot for Switzerland.


She said: “I think my first thought was to myself: ‘Ok, Elena now you did it, you’re safe.’”


And there was further good news for Poland as Julia Damasiewicz finished second to also move into the medal series final and earn an Olympic place.


More Olympic tickets were claimed in the windsurfing, where seven men’s places and eight women’s places are available for Paris 2024.


In the men’s competition, Noah Lyons of the United States, who knows he will be the US pick for the event, Lithuania’s Rytis Jasiunas and Ching Yin Cheng of Hong Kong, China secured top three places which brought Olympic qualification by virtue of passage into the iQFOiL medal series here. 


In the women’s windsurfing, Katerina Svikova of Czechia, AIN athlete Anastasiya Valkevich and Turkey’s Merve Vatan were the top three going into the medal series and so all three qualified Paris 2024 country places.


Polish sailors are having a good week in the south of France. They look all but certain to claim a place in the women’s skiff as they occupy the top two places from an event which will produce five qualifiers.


Both pairs – Aleksandra Melzacka and Sandra Jankowiak, in first, and second-placed Gabriela Czapska and Hanna Rajchert – had another consistent day after four more 49er FX races this afternoon.


Meanwhile, in the men’s skiff, Germany hold the top three places in an event for which they could qualify one of the four country places but not clear the hurdle of national team selection. 


Jakob Meggendorfer and Andreas Spranger now lead, ahead of compatriots Max Stingele and Linov Scheel, in second, and Fabian Rieger and Tom Heinrich in third. 


Four Olympic places are available in the Nacra 17 mixed multihull and the Danish pair of Natacha Violet Saouma-Pedersen and Mathias Brun-Borreskov look increasingly likely to claim one of them as they continue to lead the standings. 


Turkey’s Alican Kaynar and Beste Kaynakci are in second with Japan’s Shibuki Itsuka and Oura Nishida Capiglia in third.


In the women’s dinghy ILCA 6s, from which four Olympic places are available, Sofia Naumenko of Ukraine scored a couple of bullets to move up to third behind Cyprus’s Marilena Makri and Romania’s Ebru Bolat. 


And in the men’s dinghy ILCA 7s, Jeemin Ha of South Korea pushed into first place after two bullets, moving ahead of Estonia’s Karl-Martin Rammo and Malaysia’s Khairulnizam Mohd Afendy who dropped from the lead to third.


In the mixed dinghy 470s, Italy continue to look strong with Giacomo Ferrari and Alessandra Dubbini in first and Elena Berta and Bruno Festo in second.


Heading towards the Medal Race, 7 French competitors still in contention in Windfoil (IQFOiL) and Kitefoil (Formula Kite)

Once again, the racecourse was heavily influenced by the wind on this fourth day of the French Olympic Week, affecting all competitors. It was a challenging situation for the race committee, which still managed to send out starts in all categories, albeit with some delay. While some sailors soar in the rankings, in certain categories, securing a spot in the finals requires sheer determination, and every point matters. Never have the sailors and nations engaged in the Last Chance Regatta been so close to securing their tickets to the Paris Olympics. Even in the Qualified Nations, where the stakes are lower, the competitive spirit is alive, and everyone is eager to perform well and leave a mark. The first Medal Races will take place tomorrow with 7 French competitors in the Windfoil (IQFOiL) and Kitefoil (Formula Kite) categories for both men and women.

A team effort to elevate the athletes as high as possible

In the women's ILCA 6 solo dinghy category, competitors faced a considerable wait onshore. Managing this wait is crucial, and Louise Cervera can rely on Marrie Barrue's presence by her side to keep her competitive spirit alive.

"This year is special with the two formats, The Last Chance and the Qualified Nations. We have to deal with all of this, which is not so easy. However, I am at home, and I don't have too many goals, except to get Louise to the Olympics (Louise Cervera is the French qualifier in the women's solo dinghy). We discuss a lot about the strategy to adopt, the feelings during and after the races. We exchange a lot, support each other, try to pass the time. This work is interesting because it allows us to have a dual perspective on the race. Mentally and physically, the waiting on the water and onshore is long, so we have to be careful not to get distracted. On the water, we have to find the right balance to stay focused and rest, to sail a little but not too much. We have to juggle these two feelings. The cold on the water doesn't help us; we have to stay in the competitive mindset to be 100% ready at the start," shared Marie Barrue, currently 21st in the provisional overall standings. After 4 days of racing in the women's ILCA6 solo dinghy, only 4 races have been completed. Dutch sailor Marit Bouwmeester leads, followed by the Australian duo of Casey Imeneo and Mara Stransky. With a 9th place finish in the only race of the day, Louise Cervera climbs 12 places in the standings to 24th position.

In the men's ILCA 7 solo dinghy category, everything was still up for grabs. After 3 days and only 3 completed races, sailors had yet to showcase their talent. Tuesday's conditions, very unstable and challenging for some, needed correction. Today, with a new race, the results board regains some order. Michael Beckett (GBR) maintains his first place ahead of Australian Matt Wearn. Meanwhile, Jean-Baptiste Bernaz, third in the single race of the day, climbs to 5th place in the provisional overall standings.

For athletes competing in the men's 49er double dinghy category, each day brings new challenges. After their impressive performance yesterday, Erwan Fisher and Clément Pequin struggled in the difficult conditions and now sit 11th in the provisional overall standings. They must limit the number of points to enter the Top 10. At the top of the standings, Dutch sailors Lambriex and Van de Werken, with their consistency, secure the essential.

Lastly, in the series of the Qualified Nations in the mixed double dinghy (470), Swedes Anton Dahlberg and Lovisa Karlson had a fantastic day, seizing the lead from Camille Lecointre and Jérémie Mion, who are now second. Spaniards Jordi Xammar and Nora Brugman complete the podium.

For women in the double dinghy (49er FX), Sarah Steyaert and Charline Picon drop two places but remain in the Top 10, as do Mathilde Lovadina and Aude Compan, who provisionally occupy 9th place. The Dutch duo Odile Van Aanolt and Annette Duetz lead the category.

Medal Races up next...

Whether in the Last Chance Regatta or the Qualified Nations, Thursday will be dedicated to the first Medal Races. Only the Windfoil (IQFOiL) and Kitefoil (Formula Kite) categories will be involved. In the Qualified Nations, 7 French competitors will vie for a podium spot.

In Windfoil men, Nicolas Goyard will be the sole French representative. Ranking 4th after 8 races, he secures a place in this final round. The category is led by Australian Grael Morris and Israeli Tom Reuveny.

For women, Lola Sorin and Hélène Noesmoen are in the Top 10 and qualify for tomorrow's racing. Mina Mobeek (NOR) and Tamar Steinberg (ISR) lead the category.

In Kitefoil (Formula Kite) men, Axel Mazella and Benoit Gomez secure a place for the Medal Race in a series led from the start by the unstoppable Singaporean Maximillian Maeder. On the women's side, Jessie Kampman and Lauriane Nolot secure their spot in the Medal Race as well.

"Physically, it's quite demanding; the weather conditions are tough, they change a lot. I'm still very satisfied to be in the Top 3. I will try my best tomorrow to gain some points. I have a new board, nothing better than racing here to test it. I'm also testing some sails. I've salvaged the situation; I'm happy," shared Lauriane Nolot.

Axel added, "It's intense, but the Singaporean and the Slovenian are in good form; I gave it my all to keep up with them. I had 3 good races. When I'm in strong wind, I perform better. I'm also testing equipment for the future."