Last Chance Regatta

The first day of the final qualifying event for the Paris 2024 Olympics saw Switzerland’s Elena Lengwiler claim three first places and take control at the Last Chance Regatta to live up to her billing as an also-ran turned medal contender in the Formula Kite event.

The 28-year-old is arguably the most improved athlete in the newest Olympic sailing event and has been talked about as a potential challenger for the podium this summer in Marseille

But the Swiss must first qualify a place for her country at the Last Chance Regatta which is being held as part of the Semaine Olympique Française in Hyères, and she has put herself in a very strong position after just one day’s racing.

Three bullets and a second place will make her difficult to dislodge from the top five places which will earn a qualifying place for a sailor’s country. 

A trio of Poles

Behind Lengwiler is a trio of Poles, lead by former under-19 world champion Julia Damasiewicz, in search of that precious Olympic berth for Poland.

Poland also had a strong day in the men’s kite, where Maks Zakowski then Jan Marciniak top the standings after four races. And that means Connor Bainbridge of Great Britain – among the best sailors still not assured of a place on the start line at the Games – is down in third with only the top five qualifying a country place.

US windsurfer Noah Lyons 

Lyons rivalled Lengwiler for the performance of the day with his three bullets from three races in the men’s iQFOiL, in which seven Olympic places are up grabs.

Lyons – who knows he will be selected if he can qualify a US place – has the advantage over his rivals with Taehoon Lee of South Korea two points behind in second but with a 19th place finish in race twoAIN athlete Anastasiya Valkevich leads the women’s windsurfing from which eight qualification places are available. 

The Italians will be happiest with results in the 470 mixed dinghy placing two in the leading four of a class from which a top four place will qualify an Olympics spot, including pole position for Giacomo Ferrari and Alessandra Dubbini

For Ferrari, knowing everyone else in the fleet is also after an Olympic place means the stakes could not be higher. 

He said: “It’s the last chance so we have to be focussed on the race and do our best.”

No-one wants to get a bad result, so everyone is going for it.” 

After several days with the Mistral blowing in from the north before the event, the first day of racing saw much lighter conditions so Ferrari was especially pleased with his afternoon’s work. 

He said: “It was very light wind day, so it was not easy. Two races with this wind is difficult. We did a good job, a good first day and we are ready for the week.”

Team-mate Dubbini added: “We’ve started with lighter conditions but for sure we will find the windy conditions Hyères is known for later.”  

49er men’s skiff

Italy also lead the way in the 49er men’s skiff, from which the top four will earn a country spot, thanks to the efforts of Uberto Crivelli Visconti and Giulio Calabro although their 19th place in the second of three races today could prove a cause for regret later in the week. 

49erFX women’s skiff

Five places are up for grabs in the 49erFX women’s skiff where Polish sailors had the best of the three races possible. 

Two bullets for Aleksandra Melzacka and Sandra Jankowiak mean they lead while compatriots Gabriela Czapska and Hanna Rajchert are in third behind Singaporean pair Kimberley Lim and Cecilia Low

With four Olympics places available from a field of 15 boats, a strong first day was especially advantageous in the Nacra 17 . Danish pair Natacha Saouma-Pedersen and Mathias Bruun Borreskov seized the initiative with two bullets and a third.

But an interesting all-Belgian battle is developing further down the standings with brother-and-sister pair Kwinten and Lotte Borghijs in fourth and Arthur de Jonghe and Janne Ravelingien in fifth

ILCAs

Only one race each was possible in the men’s and women’s dinghies – where four Olympic places in each are available. But Oskar Madonich of Ukraine could make himself a very popular winner if he holds on to first in the ILCA7. In the women’s event, the ILCA6 standings are led by Marilena Makri

Full results from the Last Chance Regatta are available via the Semaine Olympique Française website.

Text Credits: World Sailing & FFV
Photo Credits: Sailing Energy
Video Credits: ICARUS Sports

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