The Netherlands’ Annelous Lammerts, riding Ozone R1 kites, landed her first gold on home waters at the Hempel World Cup Series. In the tense finals shootout Lammerts just held off stern challenges from Israeli riders Gal Zukerman and Maya Ashkenazi, also on Ozone R1 kites, to take the win.
Ozone team rider, Spain’s Gisela Pulido, took the silver medal at the Allianz Regatta event at Lelystad, courtesy of the point she carried into four-person final. It was an all Ozone R1 affair, with each the women choosing their 15m kites.
Zukerman earned herself the bronze for finishing second in the final. She and her compatriot, Ashkenazi, had battled their way through separate semi-finals in the lighter, 10kts north-easterly offshore breezes of the closing fifth day of Formula Kite competition.
The Israeli was delighted with her bronze and told of the nerve-shredding fight as she tried to chase down Lammerts on the last reach to the finish line in the final, when the athletes were just metres apart racing at more than 30kts.
“I had nothing to lose,” said Zukerman. “So I push, push, push all the way. Annelous [Lammerts] had to sail with more safety, so I tried to take my chance.”
Under intense pressure Lammerts kept her composure, bearing away slightly towards the finish line’s leeward end, gathering even more pace. It was enough to shut the door on the Israeli rivals bearing down on her and land a first gold in international competition.
“That was my first final,” Lammerts told World Sailing. “It’s an all-or-nothing when you reach that stage. You have to win the final to take home the gold. Qualifying is all about consistency, but final is a completely different way of riding. It was super-close with Gal Zukerman just 10 metres behind me at the finish. It was amazing and it worked out. I’m super-stoked.”
Lammerts was fast out of the blocks and scored four wins from four in tricky 11-15kts westerly breezes on her opening day of the regatta, which is round two of the World Sailing Hempel World Cup Series.
The Dutchwoman continued to dominate over the next three days of the qualifying series, taking another five wins from 11 races in the shifty north-westerly breezes that varied from 8-15kts and saw her switch between 11m, 15m and 19m kites.
But Pulido was determined that Lammerts would not have it all her own way. The Spaniard had a distinctly mixed start, failing to complete her first two races. On day two she suffered a disqualification.
Pulido, however, bounced back strongly on the qualifying series’ closing days. On the fourth and last day of qualification in 11-14kts north-easterlies, Pulido took three wins from four intense races, just getting the better of Lammerts each time.
Lammerts repaid the compliment in the last qualification race, turning the tables on Pulido to take a win. For both it was enough to take them straight to the final, where they lay in wait for Zukerman and Ashkenazi, winners of their respective semi-finals.
words: Ian MacKinnon/Ozone