Overnight leaders Spain 2 dropped to third at the end of qualifying after day three of the World University Sailing Championship in Cherbourg as Australia 2 finished top.
Having had to use their one available discard on an on course side (OCS) penalty in the eighth race on day two, Spain 2 – skippered by Alberto Basadre Lopez - had no room for manoeuvre and an 11th and 12th place finish in races 15 and 20 increased their eventual score after the 21 scheduled qualifying races to 51.
Australia 2, skippered by Thomas Grimes, had climbed up from third place to second after day two and moved to the top after a strong performance on the third day that included two wins and two second places, discarding what was one of two seventh-place finishes to move into the gold medal round with 36 points.
France 3, a women’s boat captained by Elodie Bonafous, finished second in qualifying on 44 points, while France 2 were one place behind Spain 2 on the same number of points.
The other qualifiers for the gold medal round were Singapore 1, Australia 1, Japan, China, Netherlands 1, France 1 and Netherlands 2.
Five days of action are scheduled in all with Australia, South Korea, Italy, China, Singapore, The Netherlands, Austria, Japan, Spain and hosts France all taking part.
Ninety athletes are registered with the competition taking place in J80 boats which were allocated by a draw.
This is the first World University Championship held in the fleet racing format, rather than match racing.
Cherbourg boasts the world's largest artificial harbour.