At the Abu Dhabi Yacht and Sailing Club, the Canadian sent out an early warning to her rivals by topping the standings in the first two rounds.
In her final jump from 20 metres high, the 34-year-old wowed the seven judges with an amazing somersault with perfect precision and technique. Her reward was a gold medal having accumulated a total of 253.80 points.
It was enough to hold off Australia’s Helena Merten and USA’s Ginger Huber, who finished second and third places, having won 229.60 and 209.85 points respectively.
With the world’s best high divers in the capital, it was no surprise that Richard was ecstatic with her victory.
“I’m really happy to have won,” she said. “It’s good to have come first but I know it wasn’t perfect and I still need to improve. However, it’s a great achievement for me.
“With such strong competitors, there really wasn’t a moment when I had thought I had won. Anything can change in a single dive. Even after my last dive, I was just hoping I had put on a good total.”
After finishing fifth in the FINA World Championships in Kazan last year, Richard ranks the feat among her best.
“This definitely has to be at the top,” she said. “The rest of the divers were really strong and every year they are showing signs of improvement. It’s hard to predict who can win the tournament but I always remain focused on what I need to do. It’s important that I do even better next time.”
Runner-up Merten came into the final round in third position and could not hide her emotions after clinching silver.
“It’s such an incredible feeling,” said the 26-year-old. “I just can’t believe it. To have come here to Abu Dhabi in a competition where the best divers are competing and win a medal is absolutely amazing.
“Any competition will be tough but today I decided to keep calm and control my nerves and remain focused.
“I always said to myself that I can do amazing dives so the self-confidence was always there. My training sessions were going really well and I just wanted to replicate the dives during the competition and I did exactly that.”
Despite achieving a podium finish, the Australian insists there’s still room for improvement.
“I still need to improve my technique a lot,” she said. “It was very good today but I want to work even harder and continue my form. Maybe in a few weeks time, I can starting working on new diving moves.”
If it wasn’t for the French passing Oracle Team USA in race three to capture their first win of the entire Luis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, the Americans would have topped the podium in Oman, instead of Land Rover BAR.
Even though the victory indirectly influenced the overall picture, the performance itself was a major benchmark for the French team.
“First race on board, it means a lot to win today,” said Adam Minoprio, who filled in as skipper for the injured Franck Cammas.
“We’ve come to this event to compete with the big teams and win races. We’re a new team on the circuit and America’s Cup, we have less experience of foiling than other teams. Every day we’re learning and improving to get to that level.
“It’s very good for confidence to win. We have great sponsors and the smallest budget. We’re small and fighting against the big teams.”
Coming into Oman, Groupama hadn’t finished higher than third in any of the races in Bermuda, Gothenburg or Portsmouth, but defied expectations in the final two races of day two.
Before their win, the French had their best result of the World Series by jumping to second place in race two. The day didn’t start promisingly, however, as they brought up the rear in the opening race and appeared headed for another lacklustre outing.
However, once they found their rhythm, especially off the starting line, they were hard to pass.
“We found our form and fixed the problems with our start, we were third in each of the next two races,” Minoprio said. “Yesterday, we were last to the reaching mark but I’m pretty happy with our start today.”
Groupama still have work to do to climb the overall World Series standings as they currently sit last heading to New York in May.
A potential return by Cammas, who will test his physical health in the interim, could boost their prospects as they continue to fight as underdogs.
The Great Britain team edged Oracle Team USA by just two points, 76-74, despite not winning any of the three races on Super Sunday, which featured double points.
Audio on the boat caught skipper Ben Ainslie frustrated following poor jumps from the line in each race, two of which resulted in penalties for premature starts, but he was able to urge his crew to fight back to salvage the all-important points.
The final race had Land Rover BAR’s most important charge as they managed to finish third, just one place behind the Americans for checkmate, but their most impressive effort came in race two.
Ainslie’s crew looked dead to rights in the middle race with a last-place standing all the way up to halfway through the final leg before somehow leapfrogging Artemis racing and SoftBank Team Japan to ultimately claim fourth.
“You obviously have to dig it out,” Ainslie said. “Psychologically, if you make a mistake like a bad start, it’s not necessarily the end of the race. It doesn’t help of course, but you have to dig out.
“I think our coaching staff helped us a lot in terms of understanding sailing upwind with the code zero sail, which came into play a lot this week. They mainly helped us get that right and I think that helped us a lot with our performance.”
For much of the race three, Oracle held the lead and appeared on their way to topping the Oman overall standings.
The Americans, however, missed a golden opportunity when they were overtaken by Groupama Team France, forcing skipper Jimmy Spithill to make a tough call.
With Land Rover BAR just behind them, Oracle could only earn first overall in Oman by dropping back and trying to slow down their British rivals. Spithill looked like he gave his crew a go-ahead to drop back, but when real estate was running out between them and the finish line, ORACLE had to settle for second.
“We knew on the last leg that once the French got past us, we had to get a boat between Ben and ourselves,” Spithill said. “I was thinking of how I was going to do it, but at the same time, if you screw it up, you can lose second place overall or third place. We pretty much ran out of options on the third race.”
Though the overall World Series rankings remain unchanged at the top, leaders Emirates Team New Zealand lost marginal ground by once again fading in the final two races of day two after winning the opener yesterday.
The Kiwis will take a six-point cushion over Oracle heading into the next stop in New York from May 7-8.