Tom ASHLEY (NZL) secured the men’s World title in the Medal Race sailed in blustery conditions off Takapuna beach. Alessandra SENSINI (ITA) took out the women’s title with a win in the women’s Medal Race.
Southeasterly winds gusting to 25 knots were seen for the first time during this event and the Medal Races took place close to shore with a crowd of spectators on the beach and nearby ramp.
Sitting on equal points going into the Medal Race it was all on between SENSINI and local legend Barbara KENDALL (NZL). SENSINI describes what she was thinking at the start of the race… “I lost Barbara. I was looking for her at the start and when I couldn’t see her I just thought, oh well, I’ll sail the way I want to,” said SENSINI. “I got the first mark and I was there first with good space behind me.”
At mark one KENDALL rounded in fourth place but made up remarkable ground to pass Blanca MANCHON (ESP) on the final leg and cross just 12 seconds behind SENSINI.
“I blew the start, dammit,” said KENDALL with a wide grin. “From there it was catch up and it’s pretty difficult to catch Alessandra because we’re such similar sailors.”
Just two points separated the old rivals at the conclusion of the regatta and SENSINI rounded out the championship with five wins from ten races. She never finished outside the top ten in conditions which ranged from extremely light and shifty to a Medal Race which saw gusts of 25 knots.
It is SENSINI’s fourth world windsurfing title, adding today’s win to World Championships wins in 2000, 2004 and 2006. She now equals KENDALL’s World Championship history, who also has four world titles to her name.
Marina ALABAU of Spain was fourth across the line in the Medal Race and took out the bronze medal for 2008. Accepting flowers on the podium immediately after racing ALABAU expressed how delighted she was to be on the podium with legends like SENSINI and KENDALL.
The men’s Medal Race was a tactical one for overnight leader ASHLEY who was focussed on staying close to Shahar ZUBARI of Israel and Joao RODRIGUES of Portugal who also had gold in their sights at the outset of the Medal Race.
While Przemyslaw MIARCZYNSKI (POL) and Nick DEMPSEY (GBR) fought it out for the Medal Race win, ASHLEY came home in fourth place ahead of RODRIGUES and securing him his first World title. The young Kiwi, who will represent New Zealand at the 2008 Olympic Games, was delighted to bring home the win in front of a home crowd which included friends and family.
ZUBARI was eighth in today’s Medal Race which saw him slip from second overall to third to take the bronze. RODRIGUES, who was fifth in the Medal Race secured the silver medal.