Erik Heil won the bronze medal at the 49er World Championships with Thomas Plößel on Saturday and qualified for an Olympic start for the second time in a row. But shortly before his own award ceremony, his thoughts wandered over to the other side of the Australian Phillip Bay. Because there his buddy Philipp Buhl is fighting for World Cup gold after another outstanding performance on Sunday. "I hope so much for him, I will pray," said Heil with a smile, "Buhli would have deserved it. I would go nuts if he were world champion." Never before has a German laser sailor been world champion. It has been 20 years since German sailors, Roland Gäbler and René Schwall, were last able to win a world championship title in an Olympic sailing discipline in the tornado. So there is a lot at stake for Philipp Buhl, who has been sailing the series of his life in the bay with his name down under so far. Will she be his on Sunday?
In his element: laser helmsman Philipp Buhl
In the preliminary round, the Allgäu shocked the competition with ranks 4, 1, 1, 1, 1 and 2. In the main round, Buhl continued the constancy at the highest level with ranks 2, 3 and 5 on Saturday. The helmsman from the North German RegattVerein was even able to slightly expand the overall leadership he had taken on on the first day. The scenario before the finale on Sunday, for which three demanding one-hour races are on the program again due to a lost day, as on Saturday, is spectacularly exciting: Buhl leads with just 15 points ahead of the equally strong Frenchman Jean Baptiste Bernaz (19 points). However, with an early start, he already has a high cancellation result, while Buhl has so far deleted a fifth place. This is followed by runner-up world champion Matt Wearn (Australia) with 30 points, Briton Elliot Hanson (40 points), Olympic silver medalist Tonci Stipanovic (44 points) from Croatia, Buhl's training partner Jesper Stalheim (47 points) from Sweden and his New Zealand sailing friend, the Olympic one Bronze medalist Sam Meech (47 points). A second string reaches for the next race that has been sailed.
Jean Baptiste Bernaz is Buhl's strongest rival on the final day
With the three scheduled races, a quarter of the regatta still stands. Everyone knows: three race results can change a lot. The good news for Buhl: Strong winds are predicted. Although his thighs burned like all top laser sailors after three hours of maximum performance and slopes on Saturday evening in Sandringham near Melbourne, conditions are Buhl's - even two days in a row. Until the showdown, the 30-year-old, who has won one silver and two bronze medals at world championships, tries to distract himself. "Today was a tough day. I've rarely been so tired. But that applies to everyone in the fleet. I would like to take race after race again on Sunday and ignore everything else. Nobody takes the previous one away from me. At least the preliminary round was in unique in my sailing history. " Buhl knows before the decision: "There are still three races left and there are still a few people in the game." Buhl's evening program: a hot bath, maybe a film and a chat over tea with Sam Meech. Then the day of decision can come.
You can find the results here.
The Australian Matt Wearn will also fight for a World Cup medal on Sunday