Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) completed the formality of winning the ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères on Saturday by finishing sixth in the medal race, to take his first ever major Finn event by a convincing margin. A third for Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) was enough to take the silver while a seventh sealed the bronze for Thomas le Breton (FRA). The race was won by current world champion Jorge Zarif (BRA).
After another delay for the wind, the medal race was held in a 10-12 westerly breeze on flat water, a great end to a great week's sailing. The race itself was a slight formality with Pieter Jan Postma (NED) leading Jorge Zarif (BRA) round the top mark. Zarif had moved to the front by the downwind gate and maintained his lead to take the winner's gun. Postma eventually dropped to sixth, while Josh Junior (NZL) moved up from ninth at the first mark to second at the finish, while Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) moved up to third on the final downwind. This meant that nothing actually changed in the overall top three. The only significant upward movement was Junior moving up to fourth.
Since the last race of the 2013 Olympics Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) has been on a mission. Before 2012 he has posted some good results, including two silvers and one bronze at the world championship since 2007. He had never won a major event outside of the Netherlands, though he had won a handful of Delta Lloyd open regattas over the years. Today's win has been a long time coming and is well deserved. Without a doubt the most popular sailor in the Finn fleet, Postma has not finished below fourth place since 2012 in any of the major events he has sailed, and has taken four podium places. Fourth is also where he finished in the 2012 Olympics, something he is determined to put right come 2016.
The smile says all you need to know. He said, "It's my first world cup win. I've always been there for years and years and I've never managed to step up so this week was awesome. It feels like a personal victory as I topped my best. I've got a few more grey hairs but I managed to deal better with my opportunities and I've been able to play out my strengths on the battlefield."
Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) has been in the class slightly longer than Postma and in that time has taken two European Championships and a string of Sailing World Cup events. He missed a medal by just six points in London, but like Postma has taken a lot of time off since then to regroup. He is now looking as strong as ever and is as enthusiastic about his sailing as he ever was. Sailing as part of Team Fantasica, he has the backing and the commitment to put together a very strong campaign over the next two years.
Thomas Le Breton (FRA) has generally always sailed in the shadow of his team mate Jonathan Lobert (FRA), who won bronze in London, but this year Le Breton has excelled in every event so far and has seemed to emerge as the fastest on the water, though Lobert has been testing a new mast this week and went back to La Rochelle early after getting damage from a collision in Thursday's racing. A silver in Palma and a bronze in Hyeres for Le Breton is testimony to the hard work his training group has put in over the winter. The training group, that also includes Tapio Nirkko (FIN), seventh in Palma, and Max Salminen (SWE), 12th this week, has done most of its training in La Rochelle, so with the Europeans beginning there next weekend, it will be interesting to see how much knowledge they have gained of the venue over the winter.
The rest of the top 10 provides some encouraging news for many sailors with Caleb Paine (USA), Bjorn Allansson (SWE), Milan Vujasinovic (CRO) and Junior posting some great results following intensive winter training.
It was a strong fleet here but with the very strong British team missing - to have a training session in La Rochelle - as well as several other contenders, next week's European Championship, with the first race on Monday 5, May, will be a massive test as the race hots up for places in Santander and the Rio Test Event. There will be a full preview next week.
Finn Class media will be in La Rochelle to bring all the news as it happens. Stay tuned.
Results after medal race (medal race results in brackets)
1 NED842 Pieter-Jan Postma 41 (6)
2 CRO524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 58 (3)
3 FRA29 Thomas Le Breton 69 (7)
4 NZL24 Josh Junior 78 (2)
5 USA6 Caleb Paine 88 (8)
6 SWE6 Björn Allansson 91 (5)
7 CRO69 Milan Vujasinovi? 101 (4)
8 GRE77 Ioannis Mitakis 101 (9)
9 BRA109 Jorge João Zarif 112 (1)
10 EST2 Deniss Karpak 112 (10)
Photos: Franck Socha / ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres
The live tracking for all races from Wednesday can be found here: http://www.sailing.org/worldcup/multimedia/tracking.php
Event website: http://swc.ffvoile.com/swc2014gbr