Czech 1-2 seals nation’s Olympic spot in windsurfing

Czech sisters Katerina and Barbora Svikova took gold and silver in the three-rider final of the women’s windsurfing competition on day five of the Last Chance Regatta in the south of France.

The sisters’ success has secured a nation’s spot for Czechia at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games this summer.

“I was able to go from first place [in the opening series] directly to the finals,” said Katerina.

“It was a hard race, but I kept fighting and managed to win the medal race, and I’m so happy to have qualified myself and my country to the Olympics.”

In third place in the winner-takes-all final race was Johanna Hjertberg, her bronze medal booking a place for Sweden at the Games. Other nations to qualify an iQFOiL windsurfing places at the end of the Last Chance Regatta are AIN, Türkiye, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and Estonia.

Meanwhile in the men’s windsurfing competition in the final Olympic qualifying event, being held as part of the Semaine Olympique Française, Makoto Tomizawa turned up the volume when it mattered, flying across the finish line of the final race and securing an Olympic spot for Japan.

“In the quarter-final and semi-final I was very nervous but once I got to the Medal Race I was relaxed and sailed a good race. I really wanted the Olympic qualifying place and now I have it, so now I can really looking forward to the Paris Games.”

Noah Lyons, who had already earned a Paris berth for the USA the previous day by winning the opening series, took the silver medal ahead of Greece’s Vyron Kokkalanis. 

The Greek rider punched the air, knowing that he had done enough to book a place at Paris 2024, which will be the 38-year-old’s fourth Olympic competition.

“We had amazing wind to run the medal races,” he said. “I entered the day in fifth position and had to give it my all. I had to work hard to win my way through the quarter-final and that was enough to earn a place for Greece.”

Other nations now qualified for men’s windsurfing are Lithuania, Hong Kong China, Finland and Slovakia. 

In the women’s kiteboarding medal series, Poland’s Izabela Satrjan and Türkiye’s Derin Atakan fought their way out of their respective semi-finals to join two others who had already qualified for the four-rider final, Elena Lengwiler from Switzerland and another Polish rider, Julia Damasiewicz.

Lengwiler continued her week-long domination of the competition, the Swiss rider sweeping to victory in first race of the final and sealing the gold medal in imperious style. The two Poles, Damasiewicz and Satrjan, took silver and bronze respectively.

Along with Switzerland and Poland, other qualifiers for Paris 2024 in women’s kiteboarding are Türkiye, Austria and Portugal.

In the men, it was another Polish silver and bronze for Maks Zakowski and Jan Marciniak who weren’t quite fast enough to topple Britain’s Connor Bainbridge from the top of the podium. 

Besides Great Britain and Poland, the USA, Greece and Israel have also qualified for Olympic spots in men’s kiteboarding.

While the four foiling board events have now concluded competition in the Last Chance Regatta, the other six boat events will hold their medal races on Friday. However, a number of sailors had already done enough by the end of Thursday’s racing to confirm a nation’s spot at the Olympics.

Men’s skiff teams from Germany, Belgium and Brazil will go into Friday’s 49er medal race on almost equal points. Although the outcome of the medals remains uncertain, these three nations could at least celebrate having secured nation’s spots at the Olympics. Hong Kong, China is also looking well placed to take the last of the available places for Paris 2024.

Aleks Melzacka and Sandra Jankowiak have dominated the women’s skiff competition all week. Their reward is earning Poland a place at Paris before Friday’s medal race is even run. Behind the leaders - who have already won the gold medal - the points look very close, and the battle for silver and bronze medals is still on. But at least the teams from Finland, Germany and Japan know they have all done enough to secure the remaining nation’s spots for Paris 2024.

However, Friday’s showdown turns out, Japan’s Misaki Tanaka and Sera Nagamatsu were already in celebratory mood.

“It has been a tough week,” said Tanaka. “We’re not so good in strong winds but we did our best in the conditions. It’s not an easy game, very tough, but we qualified for the Olympics and we’re happy.”

In the mixed dinghy 470s, two Italian teams have been shooting it out at the front of the fleet all week.

Giacomo Ferrari and Alessandra Dubbini now hold an eight-point advantage over their rivals for Italian selection, Elena Berta and Bruno Festa. The series leaders hold a 24 point advantage over the next-best placed team, Tina Mrak and Jakob Božič from Slovenia in third. So Italy is now assured of the event gold medal as well as a place at the Games where they will be joined by fellow qualifiers Slovenia and Greece. Türkiye is looking well placed for the last remaining spot.

In the Nacra 17 mixed multihull, Denmark and Türkiye have secured Olympic places while there are various permutations that could play out in Friday’s medal race. There are just two remaining nation’s spots for four teams representing Belgium, Japan, Canada and Singapore.

in the men’s dinghy ILCA 7s, Jeemin Ha and Karl-Martin Rammo have respectively won Olympic spots for Korea and Estonia, along with Khairulnizam Mohd Afendy who is now set to represent Malaysia at his fourth successive Games. Friday’s medal race will see who grabs the one remaining Olympic spot available.

In the women’s dinghy ILCA 6s, Emerging Nations (ENP) athlete Ebru Bolat holds the lead and has done enough to guarantee an Olympic place for Romania. Another ENP athlete from Cyprus, Marilena Makri, is best of the rest in what looks set to be a close battle for the three remaining Paris places.

The first winners emerge in the breeze during the Medal Races

Today was finals day for the Kitefoil (Formula Kite) and Windfoil (IQFOiL) men and women. In the Qualified Nations, the first winners are known. Jessie Kampman, Maximillian Maeder, Tamar Steinberg, and Ethan Westera claim the title. In the Last Chance Regatta category, the joy of the teams returning to shore matched their expectations. The first tickets for the Paris Olympics are being distributed. In the other classes, races are underway in very windy conditions that challenge muscles and equipment but offer a unique spectacle in the bay of Hyères.

Qualified Nations – Medal Races

Women's Kitefoil (Formula Kite) Final – Jessie Kampman claims victory

Imperious in the final two legs, Frenchwoman Jessie Kampman emerges as a superb winner. Arriving in Hyères with little physical preparation, Jessie successfully made the incredible gamble to push herself and raise her level of play race after race. Her compatriot Lauriane Nolot takes the 3rd step on the podium. Englishwoman Eleanor Aldridge slots in between the two French sailors in second place.

"I arrived at the SOF with too light physical preparation. The first days really tested my legs. I was being overtaken in every direction, so I tried to hold on mentally. It helped a bit, and each day it got better and better. Today was pure joy. I love sailing with Eleanor. I'm really happy to have won today," confided Jessie Kampman.

Men's Kitefoil (Formula Kite) Final – World Champion and SOF Winner

From the beginning of the week, unstoppable Singaporean Maximillian Maeder left his mark on the various races. A dominant performance culminates in a victory in the final. Holding strong in second place, Slovenia's Toni Vodisek solidifies his position ahead of Frenchman Axel Mazella.

"This final was really interesting. The wind was perfect, neither too strong nor too light. It was exciting to face Toni and Axel in this final. I had a great feeling during this final. Winning here is another step towards the Olympics," commented Maximillian Maeder, the reigning World Champion in the discipline.

"I knew before the race that Toni was a bit shaky in the finals. I thought, okay, I'll stick with Maximilian and at least I'll keep my 3rd place, and that's what I did. It really came down to very little. Until the end, it was very tight, and here's the result, and I'm happy. It's exactly the same podium as last year's world championship and the one before that. It's a long-standing story between Toni, Max, and me. Now I have to recover quickly and get back to work very quickly because in 2 weeks we'll reshuffle the deck at the world championship. I hope this time I'll get a good draw," commented Axel.

Men's Windfoil (iQFOiL) Final – A taste of the Caribbean in Hyères

Hailing from a small island in the Dutch Antilles, Aruba, Ethan Westera wins the grand final ahead of Australian Grae Morris and Spaniard Nacho Baltsar. Frenchman Nicolas Goyard finishes in 6th place.

"The wind picked up strong today, about 20-25 knots. I managed to control my race and avoid mistakes. I was able to choose the right side in the final, and I came out on top. I'm really satisfied with my week here in Hyères. It was great training with the other kiters in preparation for the Olympics. I'm happy that the work I've been putting in for several months is paying off well. I love Hyères; I came here 14 years ago for the first time, and I've been coming back every year since. I will now slowly move to Marseille and stay there until the Olympics," said Ethan Westera.

Women's Windfoil (iQFOiL) Final

Consistent throughout the week, Israeli Tamar Steinberg logically emerges ahead of Norwegian Mina Mobekk and Croatian Palma Cargo. Lola Sorin and Hélène Noesmoen fail in the quarter-finals and respectively place 6th and 7th.

Qualified Nations – Other Classes

In the Women's ILCA 6, Marie Barrue had a great day, finishing 6th and 3rd in the two races of the day. In the overall standings, Dutchwoman Marit Bouwmeester still holds onto her first place ahead of Belgian Emma Plasschaert and Australian Mara Stransky.

In the Men's ILCA 7, Jean Baptiste Bernaz, thanks to a very nice 2nd place, climbs back into the Top 10. Matt Wearn (AUS) is closely followed by Englishman Michael Beckett.

Little change in the Women's 49er FX. The Dutch still lead, but a great day for the Swedish duo Bobeck/Netzler allows them to close the gap.

In the Men's 49er, the French duo Erwan Fischer and Clément Pequin, with a great day and a victory in the last race of the day, enter the Top 5. A shaken-up ranking tonight benefits Spaniards Diego Bottin and Florian Trittel.

Red on red, nothing changes. This could be the maxim tonight in the mixed doubles dinghy category (470). Swedes, French, and Spaniards stick together and widen the gap from their pursuers.