Brazil’s women won a thrilling seventh edition of the ISAF Nations Cup final in Middelfart on Saturday an hour after Australia’s men had also upset the form book and the home favourites by whitewashing Denmark.
In the Open event, Australia’s men won 3-0 against the dominant Denmark team, who had only lost two matches all week and had looked unstoppable. It is the first time Australia has won the ISAF Nations Cup.
David Gilmour, the 22-year-old skipper, and his crew: Ed Powys, tactician; Luke Payne, pit, Pete Nicholas and Alistair Marchesi, bow, were unstoppable.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Gilmour, son of the America’s Cup sailor Peter Gilmour, said. “On the last run, I was really stressed out, but credit to the boys for keeping me calm and we just managed to hold on, it was a huge effort by the whole team.
“This event has been so good, it’s been so easy to come here as a sailor and I can’t believe the size of the crowd watching. Middelfart has really got behind the racing here.”
Middelfart, with the whole Triangle Region and Little Belt rallying behind it, has shown what a centre of excellence for match racing it is. It is one of a sequence of international events which have underlined how the sometimes opaque sport of sailing can be made fun and intelligible for sailors and spectators alike. During the event Sport Event Denmark reiterated that they are considering bidding for the 2018 ISAF Sailing World Championships.
“Denmark has a long-standing tradition for sailing and Danish clubs find it cool to stage all kinds of sailing races, including international events,” Lars Lundov, CEO of Sport Event Denmark, said. “The many skilled volunteers in the clubs help to ensure that the major international sailing events in Denmark are well-planned and staged, both from a professional and a financial point of view. We, as the Danish national event organisation, are proud of the great events in the domestic sailing community and we are impressed by the skills and readiness to innovate. We are considering a Danish bid for ISAF Worlds 2018”.
In the first men’s race, Nicolai Sehested, the Danish skipper, made a costly gybe on the first downwind leg and then lost further ground trying to attack with two extra tacks upwind. In the second race, Gilmour laid a penalty on Sehested in the pre-start and the Denmark skipper could not find the opportunity to work it off.
In the third race, after a split start, Gilmour led by an enormous seven lengths at the end of the first leg. Sehested showed great fight to close right up to within half a boat length for a nail-biting finish, but Australia just held on as they gybed to the line.
Sweden’s Viktor Ogeman had shown Sehested was human in the semi-final on Saturday morning by winning the first match in the light winds and rain of the morning. But Sehested, who had led 2-0 overnight, shook that off quickly and won the next one comfortably to take the semi-final 3-1.
Gilmour showed good speed to beat Japan twice, coming from behind in the first match, after being 1-1 overnight.
Sweden won third place in the best of three petit-final (third-fourth playoff) against Japan 2-1.
Women’s Nations Cup
In the Women’s event, Brazil’s young crew of: Juliana Senfft, the skipper; Marina Jardim, mainsail/tactician; Luciana Kopschitz, pit; Gabriela Nicolino, trimmer/tactics and Larissa Juk, bow, won the Brazil’s first Nations Cup in either the Open or Women’s event.
They had stumbled in the conclusion of their semi-final. Leading the USA 2-0 overnight, they lost the first match before winning 3-1 overall.
Denmark, skippered by the experienced Lotte Meldgaard, won their semi-final against Norway 3-0 and seemed to be on the way to their own whitewash with two clear wins, but Brazil had other ideas winning an incredible luffing duel down the final downwind straight. With Meldgaard’s crew unable to keep the spinnaker from collapsing, Brazil closed and passed them, although Senfft lost her protest flag overboard in the process.
“It’s awesome, we’re so excited, the team worked it so well, coming back from 2-0 was just fantastic,” Senfft said. “This is my third Nations Cup. I came sixth the last two times, so I really wanted to win. Plus, the boys have finished on the podium in the last two Nations Cup but unfortunately couldn’t get there this time, so I wanted to win for Brazil.”
Senfft turned the tables in the third race, led by five boat lengths at the end of the first leg and held on for a nail-biting final downwind to win by half a boat length. Brazil were so dominant in the fourth that all the momentum swung their way.
Meldgaard mistimed her start in the fifth, decisive match, blundered upwind but still managed to catch and overtake Brazil. But with nerves fraying on the race to the line it was Brazil who came through.
Norway took bronze, surprising the USA, by coming from behind to win 2-1.