British rider Olly Bridge cemented his dominance of the Formula kite International Sailing Federation world cup final in Abu Dhabi with a clean sweep of five bullets on day three of the competition where the experimental Short Track Format is being trialed.
But current course board world champion Maxime Nocher (FRA) trails Bridge, 17, by just a few points in the overall standings going into the final day’s medal races shootout, which will again be staged just off the United Arab Emirates capital’s stunning Corniche.
Both riders are now seeded top of their respective semi-finals, with Florian Gruber (GER), Spaniard Florian Trittel, Riccardo Leccese (ITA) and Alexander Bachev (BUL) hard on their heels.
The elite field of 16 men and four women from 11 countries has been battling it out in the “round robin”, five-competitor heats of the intense Short Track racing being show cased before an International Olympic Committee (IOC) representative.
The IOC delegates’ recommendation after the event could help decide if Formula wins inclusion to the 2020 Tokyo Games, joining the existing 10 Olympic sailing classes that are also fighting for medals in Abu Dhabi.
The competition’s penultimate day (Saturday, 29 Nov) witnessed 18 of the high-intensity Formula kite Short Track races targeted to last just three to four minutes, with starts every five minutes. Riders put up their 15m foil kites to speed over the flat waters in around 12kts of breeze in the shelter of Lulu Island.
In the heavier conditions than those experienced on day two, the women competing in mixed races for the purposes of the format trials, found the going tougher. Elena Kalinina (RUS), who is extremely quick in light airs, slipped to 15th overall, down from the tenth place that would have earned her a medal races spot.
Despite racing on tight track deliberately confined in an effort to appeal to television audiences and spectators on the beach, the battles on water have been largely free of tangles. But three races had to be abandoned and re-run after the Emirati military practising for up-coming national day celebrations flew helicopters over the Corniche at one point.
The final day of competition (Sunday, 30 Nov) will involve two pairs of semi-finals, with the top ten riders seeded into two groups of five. The leading two riders from each of the semi-finals will go into the four-man, winner-takes-all sole final race for the medals and a prize money pot of $20,000.
Currently, Briton Bridge has shown himself to be the fastest on the water but has in the past been prone to make mistakes under pressure. In contrast, Nocher has demonstrated his ability to perform when the stakes are highest, setting the scene for dramatic finale in the forecast 10kts of breeze.
See link for the full days results – http://goo.gl/c8vDzL
Writer: Ian MacKinnon
Two semi-finals will be held with five racers in each. Places 1 and 2 will carry forward ten points, 3 and 4 seven points, 5 and 6 five points, 7 and 8 four points and 9 and 10 three points. Two races in each semi-final will follow with the top two placed sailors in each heading to the final.
From there, it’s a four way single race shoot out for the podium spots.
Semi-finals groups see link – http://goo.gl/rojPO8
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