Last-gasp victory for Bernaz in a thrilling medal race at Kiel Week

Jean-Baptiste Bernaz seized a last-chance victory in the final few metres of the ILCA 7 medal race at Kiel Week on Wednesday (26 June). It was a thrilling conclusion to a great afternoon of final races for five Olympic classes racing in light breeze and beautiful blue skies in northern Germany.


Frenchman Bernaz should have found the medal race fairly straightforward, having gone into the day with the yellow bib and a 10-point advantage over Australia’s Zac Littlewood. However, Bernaz found himself struggling near the back while Italy’s Lorenzo Chiavarini sailed a start-to-finish race at the front.

More importantly for the Frenchman, his friends and training partners were having good races up near the front. When German Philipp Buhl crossed the finish in second place, he was in gold medal position with Bernaz back in ninth. However, two penalties – one apiece for sailors from Argentina and The Netherlands – allowed Bernaz to slip through to seventh across the line. It was just sufficient for France to hold on to gold, with Buhl taking silver for Germany and Norway’s Hermann Tomasgaard in bronze.

Not only was it the perfect way for Bernaz to finish Kiel Week, the final day drama ticked another box in his bid to replicate the discipline of the Olympic Regatta coming up a month from now. “It has been a great regatta all week,” said the Frenchman. “It’s a challenging place but it’s been nice to come and get away from all the pressure of being in France in the build-up to the Games. It’s been great to have close racing against Buhly and Hermann today and all this week. Now we’ll have a beer together this evening.”

Zac Littlewood finished 5th and Ethan McAullay was 7th.


A disastrous start for Anna Munch in the Medal Race of the ILCA6 class. Despite being 13 points off the lead, the Dane was still the only one who had a shot at beating Poland’s Agata Barwinska. However, Munch was stuck at the start boat and was unable to attack Barwinska, who had also started poorly. As a result, the best and most dominant sailors so far in the regatta were struggling near the back, and neither was able to recover during the course of the race.

Australia’s Mara Stransky initially got her nose in front, but the chasing pack remained within striking distance. After an umpire’s decision for illegal pumping, Stransky lost her lead and Switzerland’s Maud Jayet moved ahead. Her closest pursuer: the Finn Monika Mikkola, who was unable to overtake the Swiss on the final reaching leg.

Agata Barwinski and Anna Munch finished last across the line, laughing together. The Dane dropped back from second to third place in the overall standings and was narrowly beaten by Australia’s Stransky who took silver, behind the victorious Polish sailor.

“It was really intense but I’m very happy how it worked out,” smiled Barwinska. “It was the perfect choice to come here before the Games in Marseille and to be racing here against such great sailors and with sunny blue skies in Kiel.”

The Australian girls had a great regatta, with 4 finishing in the top 10 – Mara Stransky (2nd), Evie Saunders (7th), Elyse Ainsworth (9th) and Casey Imeneo (10th).


The 470 Mixed medal race was a three-way battle between the siblings Hedwig and Hugo Liljegren from Sweden, the Ukrainians Yehor Samarin/ Yelyzaveta Vasylenko, who started the Medal Race on equal points with the Swedes, and the Polish team Zofia Korsak & Mikolai Bazyli, who could yet steal gold.

The medals were decided on the last downwind between the Swedes, the Ukrainians and the Poles as the breeze swung back and forth. In the end, the Poles Korsak/Bazyli were able to move up to second place behind medal race winners from Germany, Johann Emmer and Paula Schützer.

The Swedes had problems with their spinnaker on the final reach to the finish and there was little they could do as the Ukrainians swept past. In the end, Liljegren/Liljegren only managed a 7th place in the Medal Race, dropping them to 3rd place in the overall standings. The ecstatic Kiel Week winners were the two Ukrainians Yehor Samarin/ Yelyzaveta Vasylenko ahead of the Poles Korsak/Bazyli.

“We’re very happy to win here,” grinned Vasylenko. “This is our first international regatta racing together so it’s amazing to win. It’s a good step and we’re hoping to carry on for the next years and represent Ukraine at the Olympics in 2028.”


The 49er men’s skiffs got started in 10 knots of wind. The Danes Frederik Rask and Jakob Precht-Jensen had an almost unassailable going into the race. Only the Maltese team Richard Schultheis and Youenn Bertin still had a theoretical chance of taking gold from Denmark. However, shortly after the start, the Maltese were penalised by the umpires and given a penalty turn for briefly getting in the way of the Danes.

The Danes went on to sail a very controlled race within striking distance of their Maltese rivals, who finished eighth across the line. Thanks to their points lead at the start of the day, a ninth place for Rask/Precht-Jensen was good enough for overall victory.

“We’ve had a few months to get over the disappointment of missing Olympic selection,” said Rask, “Winning here is not like winning a medal at the Olympics but it’s still really nice. We’ve had some really good sailing this week and it’s been a nice vacation too.”

Meanwhile it has been a good medal race for Tytus Butowski and Borys Podumis, who won the final medal race and moved up to 2nd place overall. Schultheiss/Bertin had to settle for bronze.

Top Australian team were Otto Henry and Ryan Littlechild in 19th.


The Germans Inga-Marie Hoffmann and Jill Paland went into the final race with a comfortable 17-point lead. Only the Norwegians Pia Dahl Andersen and Nora Edland held faint hopes of taking overall victory from the leading Germans.

After an unsuccessful start, Hofmann/Paland were able to make up position after position and in the end left nothing to chance by climbing up to third place in the Medal Race. That was sufficient to give them gold by a comfortable margin. Not bad for a team who had only partnered up for this regatta in the absence of their usual crew mates. The Norwegians took silver and Germany’s Katharina Schwachhofer and Elena Stoltze took the bronze.

Hoffman summed up a great Kiel Week for the Olympic sailors. “Sunny, great conditions, it’s not always raining here,” she laughed. “We had a lot of fun in the boat this week and I think that’s why we managed to do well sailing together for the first time.”

So that’s the end of Kiel Week Part 1. Part 2 begins on Thursday through to the final day on Sunday, when it’s the turn of other popular international dinghy and keelboat classes to enjoy some stunning conditions on the Kiel Fjord.

Written by event reporter Andy Rice

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