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12 July 2019 | in Sailing

Finland claims sailing gold thanks to near-perfect final day

NAPOLI, Italy – Finland captured gold in mixed fleet racing Friday thanks to a near-perfect performance on the final day of the Napoli 2019 sailing competition at iconic Circolo del Remo e della Vela Italia, in the Bay of Naples.

Mixed fleet was the lone sailing event scheduled at the 30thSummer Universiade as the sport returned to the biennial multisport event for the first time since 2011, in Shenzhen, China.

 

Seeded second going into the eight-team final after collecting 51 points in 16 preliminary contests, the Finnish foursome of skipper Oskari Muhonen and crew members Cecilia Sandman, Catharina Sandman and Alexander Gronblom won three of four races on the afternoon and placed second in the other to end up with a minuscule seven points.

 

“It was a very good day for us. We managed to get clean starts and where able to get our own lanes,” said the winning skip. “I think that was the big difference today. When you get a clear lane after the start, then it’s easy if you have the speed.

 

“The level of competition was very good here. We started the week really well then had little setbacks, especially on the third day, but we managed to come back pretty well.”

 

Fourth-seeded Austria, the only team to defeat Finland on Friday, moved up two spots to capture silver thanks to a 14-point tally, while Singapore 2 held on to third position with 17 points.

 

“It was a great day for us. We came into the final in fourth place so we were pretty relaxed, to be honest,” said Austrian skipper Stefan Scharnagl, whose crew included Hannah Isabella Ziegler, Johanna Daum and Luis Hermann Wenger-Oehn. “Our goal was to stay out of trouble and sail conservatively, and we pretty much managed to do that. We had very good starts but the waves were really tricky to sail.

 

“We really felt the whole week that we were up there with the top teams, that we had good speed and could compete. We’re super happy to come away with silver. This is definitely one of the best experiences of my career.”

 

Singapore 2 skipper Jillian Lee and teammates Cheryl Teo, Jen-E Tan and Scott Lau recovered from a subpar first race to climb onto the podium.

 

“It was a tough battle today. We started really badly with a sixth place, so we knew we had a lot of work ahead of us. But we just kept focusing on our processes and it ended up pretty well for us,” said Lee. “It was my first Universiade and it was a great experience overall.”

 

Meanwhile, it was a tough day at the office for Australia, which dropped from first to fourth place after racking up 25 points in the four-round final, due in large part to a pair of last-place finishes. The Aussies had amassed only 48 points in the preliminary stage.

 

Singapore 1 (26 points), Russia (29), Germany (30) and Japan (32) rounded out the top eight.

 

In the two-race “small final” for positions nine through 16, Switzerland came out on top with six points, followed by Italy 1 (9), South Korea (11), Spain 2 (11), China (16), Spain 1 (18), Italy 2 (20) and France (20).

 

RESULTS: Mixed Fleet Racing

Gold: Finland

Silver: Austria

Bronze: Singapore (Singapore 2)

 

NAPOLI, 11 July – Of all the spectacular Napoli 2019 competition sites, none has captured the imagination like historic Circolo del Remo e della Vela Italia and its exceptional sailing facilities, set in the breathtaking Bay of Naples, in the shadows of Castle dell’Ovo.

 

The origins of the iconic club date all the way back to 1889, with sailing activities starting a few decades later, in 1913. It is also notorious because it hands out one of the oldest European rowing trophies, the Lysistrata Cup, donated to the association in 1909 by American magnate James Gordon Bennett Jr.

 

“The Italian federation was looking for a club to host the Universiade sailing competition and Circo Italia graciously offered to close the doors to their members for the duration of the Games. They are very proud of their facilities and excited to be hosting this very unique event,” says venue manager Alessandro Gambuli.

 

“Then when they started talking about the possibility of having a VIP section, which is typical for events of this scale, the municipality of Napoli offered the opportunity of using the terrace at the top of the castle.

 

“Lucky me, I was asked to be venue manager of the nicest venue of the Universiade.”

 

Spectators also get to enjoy the event, as well as the stunning views, from the top of the world-famous castle, on an adjacent terrace.

 

Not surprisingly, the feedback Gambuli has received from competitors and guests has been unanimously positive.

 

“The athletes are extremely happy. They all leave the venue every day with big smiles on their faces. As for VIPs, what can I say! It would be hard not to enjoy this.”

 

Count skippers Atsushi Nishizaka of Japan and Jillian Lee of Singapore among the long list of those who have been impressed with the magnificent setting.

 

“It’s the best venue I’ve ever been to,” flat out said Nishizaka. “It’s really beautiful. The sea is beautiful, and so is the city. This venue has a long and rich history, and I’m proud to be competing here. The castle is so cool.”

 
The Napoli 2019 sailing venue takes place just outside the historic city harbour

“It’s definitely one of the most beautiful spots I’ve competed in,” added Lee. “You can actually see Mount Vesuvius, so that’s very pretty. Especially today, it’s a lot clearer than the past few days and you can actually see all the islands. And of course the castle. As soon as we got to the venue the first day, we went to visit it and walked all the way to the top.”

 

While Gambuli has nothing but good things to say about the venue he manages, he also wanted to give a shout-out to the staff of 25 that has been assembled to run the sailing competition.

 

“They are all from Naples. Everything is running smoothly. Any issues that come up, they solve immediately. I call them the sailing dream team.”

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