Aquece Rio Olympic Test Event: Wrap-Up

Nineteen nations medal at the eight day pre-olympic regatta.

One year before the Olympic Sailing Competition the sailors showed their mettle on the same courses that will be used at Rio 2016. Many of the test event medallists will win an Olympic medal in one year’s time, highlighting the importance of sailing’s test event.

Conditions in the waters around Rio can change in an instant, and the 326 sailors from 50 nations will walk away with key knowledge, data and lessons learnt as they spend the next 348 days preparing for what is to come.


Men’s 470
Mathew Belcher and William Ryan Australia
Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion France
Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic Croatia
Women’s 470
Anne Haeger and Briana Provancha USA
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark Great Britain
Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie New Zealand
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke New Zealand
Nico Delle-Karth and Nikolaus Resch Austria
Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel Germany
49er FX
Martine Soffiatti Grael and Kahena Kunze Brazil
Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich Italy
Lisa Ericson and Hanna Klinga Sweden
Giles Scott Great Britain
Tapio Nirkko Finland
Pieter-Jan Postma Netherlands
Francesco Marrai Italy
Jean Baptiste Bernaz France
Tom Burton Australia
Laser Radial
Gintare Volungeviciute Scheidt Lithuania
Evi Van Acker Belgium
Marit Bouwmeester Netherlands
Nacra 17
Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin Australia
Billy Besson and Marie Riou France
Mandy Mulder and Coen de Koning Netherlands
RS:X Men
Aichen Wang China
Byron Kokkalanis Greece
Pierre Le Coq France
RS:X Women
Charline Picon France
Malgorzata Bialecka Poland
Blanca Manchon Spain

Full Results

Team Video Wrap Ups

British Sailing Team


US Sailing Team Sperry


Australian Sailing Team

A year ago at the first Olympic Test Event, US Sailing Team Sperry 470 sailors Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha entered the medal race in a three-way tie for the lead, and finished outside of the top three in frustrating fashion. This time, however, the Americans would not be denied. “It doesn’t feel real,” said Haeger, a US All-American athlete and ICSA College Sailor of the Year. “We’ve been battling this whole regatta, and had a great final series. The last race yesterday we struggled a bit, so to pull through in this medal race, and to be wearing these [medals], is so cool.”
Cousins Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin carried the yellow leaders jersey over the last two days of fleet racing in the Nacra 17 class and never let it go, crossing the finishing line of the Medal Race in fifth place and thus securing overall first after a consistent week. “This has been a really tricky week and we are super stoked,” said Waterhouse. “I’m so proud of my cousin Lisa and we’ve been working to do this together for about eight years now and there’s one more goal in mind and that’s where we are heading. This is just an awesome way to end it with one year to go.”
New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have totally dominated the Olympic 49er class over the past twelve months, and indeed the past three years, with an unprecedented string of consecutive victories. Burling and Tuke have now won 20 major events in succession. No other 49er sailor has ever been unbeaten for 12 months, let alone three years. They continued the streak by winning Gold at the Aquece Rio. “We started off pretty solid, not fantastic, but we just got better during the week,” said Burling. “We had a pretty big lead going into today but it was mathematically possible for them to beat us so [today] we stuck with the Austrians who were right next to us.” Tuke says, “This week has been really great practice for us. There are 20 boats like we’ll be racing in next year with one boat from each country, which isn’t what we normally have at other regattas. That’s been really good for us.” “We’ve learnt a lot this week, not just from the results but a lot of other things and we’re happy with how it’s played out over the last three weeks in Rio.”
Giles Scott continued his Finn success with a Gold at the Rio Test Event. Tension was high in the build-up and during the race and as Scott said himself, “it was a stressful one.” Scott admitted he had been ‘on the back foot’ after a race disqualification earlier in the week, but was relieved that a fourth place finish in the proved enough to claim the top spot of the podium – his second consecutive Test Event victory at the 2016 venue. “It feels pretty good,” Scott said. “I’ve had a pretty trying week and have been a bit on the back foot since day one. I clawed my way to the front of the fleet somehow and managed to get that race just about right”
There was a lot of pressure for Olympic gold medalists Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan going into the final 470 Medal race with the top nine boats all in reach of gold. “This is a really good stepping-stone for us. We had a really tough regatta in the beginning. We felt we weren’t sailing well and the disqualification halfway through put a lot of pressure on Will and I. It was nice that we were able to overcome that and come away with a win. There’s a lot of work to do but we’re pretty happy with how we’re going,” Mat Belcher said. “For us the focus is about next year and there is a lot of work to do between now and then. Every day, every week and every month we’re training and it’s all about next year.”
Brazil’s Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze came from behind to take a memorable gold medal in the 49erFX Italians Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich were in the driver’s seat heading into the race, but small mistakes in the Medal Race gave the Brazilians an initiative as Conti explained, “We made a mistake at the first rounding. The spinnaker halyard was stuck in the spreaders. It was my mistake, as I did not bear away after the gybeset. We were still in control of the two boats we needed to be in control of until the last upwind and they, the Swedish and Brazilians split and we made a tactical mistake. We decided to stay with the Swedish and the rest of the fleet. It meant that the only way we could lose was from the Brazilians as she could gain boats.” And gain boats is exactly what the Brazilians did as Grael described things from her point of view, “I knew there was a chance we could turn it around but I was more concerned about keeping silver than taking first but we got a chance on the last downwind so we took it. It was quite a tricky race. We pulled out a very nice last downwind and we managed to get enough points to win from the Italians. I don’t think it could have ended better.”
Francesco Marrai will be able to book his plane ticket to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games after he took gold in the Laser. For the Italian team, any sailor that finished on the podium at the test event would be guaranteed a place at Rio 2016. Coming into the event, Marrai was a rank outsider for gold with several leading sailors aiming to lay down a marker and when asked if he thought he’d win the Italian exclaimed, “No, no, no, not at all. Last year I finished sixth and that was a very good regatta for me. “I didn’t expect to win or get a medal but I found myself up there and I just kept on fighting. The first day I was down in seventh and second, third and then first for three days and I was able to just keep my position. “I’m very happy right now, it’s quite a new situation for me and I cannot show much emotion but this is very big for me.”
Lithuania’s Gintare Scheidt held on to take gold in the Laser Radial despite receiving a discretionary penalty in advance of the Medal Race. Scheidt was awarded four extra points for breaching the class rules which relegated her to third overall going into the Medal Race. In the end, Scheidt took the bullet, which earned her a gold medal, “Today was a bit tense because I was protested due to measurement and I got an extra four points in the Medal Race. It was not a nice way to start the Medal Race day but it was my mistake, nobody else’s and I accepted it. I went into the race not thinking about it and that’s what I did. “I’m feeling great now; it’s a big relief. Today I was tied with two other boats and I could have lost the medal but now it’s time to celebrate. It’s a good present for my son who is six years old today. He’s in Lithuania with my mother but he’s always cheering for me and saying to me, ‘mummy you’re sailing so good, keep it going’.”
Charline Picon (FRA) finished first overall in the Rio Test Event. The French expression, “jamais deux, sans trois,” signified Charline Picon’s hopes for the 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition after the french windsurfer won Women’s RS:X gold at sailing’s Olympic test event for the second time. Directly translated to ‘never two without three’, the saying can be used both positively and negatively and that if something has happened twice, it is likely to happen for a third time. After winning gold at the 2014 Aquece Rio and backing it up this year, Picon said through a shy smile, “jamais deux, sans trois.” If the saying goes, that third time will be at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
For China’s Aichen Wang, the writing was on the wall, all he needed to do was finish in the top eight in Men’s RS:X and gold would be his. Anything lower, then his rivals would have had to win to overthrow the pace setting Chinese sailor. Going in with a 17 point lead Wang knew what had to be done but didn’t make things easy for himself as his Beijing 2008 Olympic gold medal winning coach Tom Ashley (NZL) explained, “He made it very difficult for himself today to be honest. He didn’t have a whole lot to do because the point’s gap was pretty big. “In the first part of the race he made a couple of mistakes and fell off as he got a big gust that slammed him. That didn’t make life easy. After that he sailed back through the fleet pretty well and finished fourth so it was alright.”