French fans were treated to double celebrations on Bastille Day as Axel Mazella and Lauriane Nolot claimed gold in the Formula Kite events at the Paris 2024 Test Event in Marseille.
The duo had qualified as top seeds for the finals and backed that up with the necessary victories to wrap up gold.
Elsewhere, Marit Bouwmeester guaranteed the gold medal in the ILCA 6 even before the medal race after opening up a big lead.
Nolot and Mazella dominate kite finals
After leading the way all week, the pressure was on Lauriane Nolot and Axel Mazella to bring it home in the Formula Kite women and men’s classes – and the French pair did just that.
As the country celebrated it being July 14th – Bastille Day – the duo claimed the first two gold medals of the Olympic Test Event.
With Daniela Moroz (USA) and Jingyue Chen (CHN) joining Nolot and Ellie Aldridge (GBR) in the final, the French athlete needed just one win to secure gold.
And she did at the first time of asking, making a dream start and maintaining her lead throughout, before staying at the venue to cheer on Mazella.
“I had the plan in my mind, I knew what I wanted to do,” said Nolot, who took gold ahead of Aldridge in silver, with Moroz taking bronze.
“Everything went super well. My start was really good and I was already in the lead. I just needed to be fast to continue like that. Everything went smoothly and I’m really happy.
“I think I was more stressed for Axel’s final than mine. I stayed out there to see what he was doing. The first one was super tight, I was so stressed. I’m super happy for him and already two gold medals for the Frenchies!”
Mazella was made to work a bit harder, with Connor Bainbridge (GBR) taking the first win of the finals, with Max Maeder (SGP) and Lorenzo Boschetti (ITA) coming through the semis.
That meant both Mazella and Bainbridge were just one win from gold, but in the second race, the Frenchman found his form and took the win to make it a perfect day for the home crowds.
He said: “In the second race I had to manage my brain and keep calm and focused on the race. I had a really good start, I took the lead from the beginning and I took it to the finish line. I saw Lauriane at the finish line, it was a good memory.
“We showed with Lauriane that the Frenchies are home. We just opened the medal counter for the Frenchies so we are really happy for that, especially for the kite foilers, the new Olympic class, we showed everyone we are here. We will celebrate that today and for the whole weekend.”
Bouwmeester wraps up gold
While the Formula Kite medals were always scheduled to be won on Friday, there was no guarantee of any other class being decided.
However, such has been Marit Bouwmeester’s dominance in the ILCA 6, that she has already secured gold before the medal race.
Even with double points available on Saturday, the Dutch star cannot be caught, thanks to a bullet in the final race on Friday.
That win, combined with a 19th place for nearest challenger Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN), meant that Bouwmeester leads by 21 points heading into the medal race, an unassailable advantage.
A year out from the Olympics in the same venue, it was the dream week for the 2016 Olympic champion.
She said: “I was happy with my results. It’s never easy in Marseille. If I’m winning, it’s not entirely up to myself, I think my competitors made a few more mistakes but I’m happy with the week. We had such a variety of conditions and I think it gave a good insight of what we can expect for next year.
“It’s constantly changing and always difficult but we learned a lot about the bay. It’s nice that we got a proper event in.”
Dutch dominance in 49er
Bouwmeester was not the only Dutch sailor to impress, with Bart Lambriex and Floris van de Werken also starring in the 49er class.
The reigning world champions picked up three bullets to open up a convincing lead at the top of the standings.
Lambriex and Van de Werken sit on 34 points, 20 clear of Mihovil and Sime Fantela (CRO) in second with three races, in addition to the medal race, still to come.
Beckett moves into commanding position in ILCA 7
Michael Beckett (GBR) suffered his first off day of the competition on Thursday, but the ILCA 7 sailor bounced back in style to put himself into a strong position ahead of the medal race.
Finishing second and then third, Beckett moved back ahead of Olympic champion Matt Wearn (AUS) in the standings.
Beckett currently sits on 30 points, nine clear of Wearn, meaning that even with double points in the medal race on Saturday, he has a comfortable buffer.
New Zealander George Gautrey won the second race of the day to move up to third on 45 points with Pavlos Kontides (CYP) and Finn Lynch (IRL) lurking in the hunt for a podium finish on 48 and 49 respectively.
Italians finish strong to stay top of Nacra 17
Gigi Ugolini and Maria Giubilei (ITA) finished Friday with a bullet to maintain their lead at the top of the Nacra 17 standings.
The Italian pair had won all three races on Wednesday, but after a rest day, started slowly with ninth in the first race of the day, won by Mateo Majdalani and Euge Bosco (ARG).
Emil Jarudd and Hanna Jonsson (SWE) followed that up by taking the second race, with Ugolini and Giubilei fourth but the Italians finished with a flourish in the last race of the day.
That was enough to hold a four-point lead over Akseli Keskinen and Sinem Kurtbay (FIN) with Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson (NZL) five points further back with three more races and the medal race to come.
Wilson and Goyard lead iQFOiL
Emma Wilson (GBR) remains the woman to beat in the iQFOiL women, taking one bullet and a second place to stay clear of Sharon Kantor (ISR) in second.
Wilson has been the most consistent athlete throughout and leads by 16 points on 27, with Veerle Ten Have (NZL) a further 17 points behind Kantor.
The iQFOiL men is a little tighter, although two bullets for Nicolas Goyard cemented his position at the top of the leaderboard.
Grae Morris (AUS) was the most consistent to move up to second on 42 points, still 12 behind Goyard, with Nicolo Renna on 44 as the top three have stretched well clear of the field through 13 races.
The action continues on Saturday with medal races in the mixed 470, as well as the ILCA 6 and ILCA 7