The 2016 Para World Sailing Championships came to a breathtaking finale in Medemblik, the Netherlands, as the final race decided the medals in the Sonar fleet, with USA’s Alphonsus Doerr, Bradley Kendell and Hugh Freund claiming gold.
Poland’s Monika Gibes and Piotr Cichocki sealed the title in the SKUD18 class, whilst Germany’s Heiko Kroeger topped the podium in the 2.4Norlin OD.
USA’s Alphonsus Doerr, Bradley Kendell and Hugh Freund, Great Britain’s John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas, Australia’s Colin Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden and Norway’s Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Marie Solberg and Per Eugen Kristiansen were the top four crews heading into the final race, separated only by six points.
USA started on top, but fell behind Australia and Great Britain early. The latter then took the first place, only just ahead of the Australians, hoping Norway could beat USA to the line to claim the world title. However, USA still managed to get third in the final race to top the world podium with 26 points.
"In the last race of the regatta, we knew who we had to cover and we were happy with our start, we knew where they were," said US sailor Bradley Kendell.
"This World Championships was a very tight regatta. The world's best were here and we are so happy with what we have done and where we are at right now."
USA was consistent throughout the whole regatta, finishing among the first three places in six of the 10 races.
Great Britain’s John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas took the silver with 27 points and Australia’s Colin Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden collected bronze with 28.
2.4 Norlin OD
Germany's Heiko Kroeger will head into the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games as the 2.4 Norlin OD world champion following his victory in Medemblik, the Netherlands.
Not even a crash with USA’s Dee Smith in the final race that dropped him to the 11th position stopped the London 2012 silver medallist from topping the podium. Kroeger came first in three and second in four of the ten races, finishing the regatta with 32 points.
France’s Athens 2004 gold medallist Damien Seguin claimed silver (37 points), whilst Australia’s Matthew Bugg took bronze (42 points).
"I had a crash with Smith, but it was ok as Matt [Bugg] was a few places behind me and Damien [Seguin] was not too far ahead," explained Kroeger.
"It was tough racing here. I had some good races and some not so good races which made it tight but I am really happy I worked it out and it is great to win.
"I guess it is good to go to Rio as world champion and not fourth or fifth.”
Poland’s Monika Gibes and Piotr Cichocki proved to be the strongest, staying in front of the leader board throughout almost the whole regatta. With a third place in the final race, the Polish crew finally sealed the win with 18 points.
"I cannot believe we won. I really cannot believe it. I feel so excited that we won the World Championships," said Gibes.
Cichocki shared the same excitement with her teammate: "My heart is double now. It is an unbelievable feeling. I am so proud.”
Great Britain's Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell took the silver medal following a protest hearing that involved Australia's reigning Paralympic champions Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch.
The Australians initially thought they had secured silver, but after that protest, they had the ninth race wiped off, which promoted the British into first place in that race and the second step of the world podium. Fitzgibbon and Tesch took bronze.
Full results are available here.