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Watch: Malta sailors sweep Optimist events

Malta sailors pose for a group photo with their medals. Photo: Paul Cachia

The sailing fraternity had all good reasons to smile yesterday despite all races being called off due to low wind speed off the north coast of Malta.

The organisers had everything lined up for a final day racing from the GSSE but the vital ingredient was missing – wind.

The crews had sailed out into the Maltese waters as scheduled in the previous four days of the race, but the teams were looking dubiously at the sky as the lack of wind stopped the sea breeze.

At around 3pm, five hours after the race was supposed to have started, the race committee called the whole thing off.

No racing on the final day meant that Team Malta had completed a clean sweep in the Optimist Senior, in both the men’s and women’s categories. Malta has been the dominant nation in the Optimist category in such a way that they completed the all-Maltese podium in both categories.

Timmy Vassallo was consistent throughout and earned the gold medal in front of Jonas Micallef and Matthias Spiteri. Likewise, Emily Fenech finished ahead of Alesandra Nagrudnaya and Katrina Briffa.

In the ILCA4 class, Katrina Micallef took gold while Mia Busuttil placed third. Micallef took the lead of the race on day two, leapfrogging early pacesetter Adriani Georgiu and then keeping her opponent at a distance in the subsequent races.  In the male category, Jake Mallia and Benjamin Vassallo could not keep up with front-runner Noah Garcia of Monaco and had to settle for silver and bronze respectively.

Similar situation for the ladies in the ILCA 6 class where Makri Marilena, bronze medallist in the U21 World Championship was too strong for Lacey Aquilina and Michela Mifsud who settled for silver and bronze in that order.

In the men’s ILCA 7, Alexander Denisiuc took bronze for a total haul of three gold, four silver, and six bronze – 13 medals in all.

Apart from the three places on the rostrum, there was a display of fine manoeuvring as well by the young Malta squad during the week, all credit going to the Malta Sailing Federation.

“I feel relieved and really happy,” a shy Emily Fenech said. “It was tough all week but in the end, it was an amazing experience,” she added.

“Winning a gold medal on home soil makes it ten times better knowing that all our friends and family can support us and having the public behind us makes it a unique experience,” Kartina Micallef added.

“Hard work always pays off and it is really a nice feeling when you go on the highest step of the podium,” Timothy Vassallo said.

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