[Source: ISAF] It was a tough fifth day of racing for all of the fleets at the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships with a challenging up and down wind playing havoc across the seven race courses.
It was scheduled to be a Super Tuesday with all of the fleets apart from the Women’s RS:X scheduled to take to the water but the schedule did not quite go to plan with abandonments, strong current and a fickle breeze challenging the Race Committees.
All of the fleets managed to complete some racing with the Men’s RS:X and Women’s 470 rounding off their Qualification Series, the Laser and Laser Radial continued their gold fleet racing and the remaining fleets resumed qualification.
The weather was pleasing for the Men’s RS:X fleet with an easterly wind which allowed the Race Committee to set the course quick and complete race number 5, the last race of the Qualification Series for the Men’s RSX. A tricky offshore breeze with seaweed across course made racing tough and unpredictable. The yellow fleet leaders took off from the many, many sailors were on port, and they hit the left corner on the upwind, which paid off in the end.
The downwind strategy for the majority of the guys was to keep planing in the gusts. The top three finishers in the yellow fleet were Piotr Myszka from Poland, Thomas Goyard and Julien Bontemps from France. A brilliant planing start on port in front of the entire Blue fleet unfortunately didn’t help JP Tobin (NZL) to finish among leaders as he went to the right side whilst the winning side appeared to be left.
In the end Pierre le Coq from France took the bullet (See the video of Pierre’s interview this morning before the race) followed by Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) and Nick Dempsey (GBR). This brought the qualification series to a close with the fleets now splitting up into gold and silver.
Women’s RS:X racers have had a lay day today, so the leaders remain the same: Charline Picon (FRA), Bryony Shaw (GBR) and Patricia Freitas (BRA). The girl’s will continue racing in Gold and Silver fleet tomorrow.
There will be a strong battle in RS:X Men for those 18 qualification spots allocated for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games from the current World Championship. There are 23 countries in the Gold fleet (49 competitors) and 5 countries will come back home without a desired qualification spot. Same applies to the Women’s RSX, where 15 counties got into a Gold fleet, 31 competitors in total, with only 13 nations able to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games 2016 in Santander.
RS:X Reports courtesy of Olga Maslivets, International RS:X Class Association
After yesterday’s session of waiting the 49erFX fleet was anxious to get their world championship started. Up to four races per fleet were scheduled for the Duna course, the feature course with the huge grandstands. Over 1,000 local sailing enthusiasts greeted the sailors as they began their quest for gold fleet and ultimately the title. For local 49erFX stars Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos (ESP) it was a special day. Every time they rounded a mark or came near the grandstands a huge roar would erupt.
“We took inspiration from them today. It was lovely to hear them cheer us even in the second race when we were not doing so well, we knew they were here to support us,” said hometown girl Berta.
The first race was dominated by starting, as the side current made for mostly port tack sailing. Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth (GBR), Tessa Parkinson and Chelsea Hall (AUS) and Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) nailed their starts, punching through the starboard tackers into commanding positions up the first beat. The Brazilians had the better boatspeed and managed to sail comfortably to the first bullet of the event with the Aussies and Brits finishing in the top 5.
In race 2 the wind and tide were more aligned making a more even beat. A number of teams tacked their way up the shifts and puffs, with the right hand side holding the advantage. Parkinson and Hall found great form again and lead comfortably through the first two and a half laps of the race. Unfortunately for them they mishandled a gybe and capsized on the last run, sending them back into 12th by the time they recovered. Still, a solid day for this duo who work full time and sail in their local skiff club in Perth.
The Blue fleet then got their turn and faced some challenging conditions. Canadians Erin Rafuse and Danielle Boyd were leading the first race in what was the best breeze of the day, ultimately being overtaken by the reigning European Champions, Ida Nielsen and Mari Olsen (DEN) who finished first. Their next race looked to be another good one until the wind died out for the last 100m of the first beat. Most of the fleet stacked up at the windward mark and many teams had to take evasive manoeuvres to avoid fouling. Laura Shoenfegger and Elsie Lovreck (AUT) escaped first from the mess and held on for a third. Kate MacGregor and Katrina Best (GBR) took the win, a nice recovery from their challenging first race.
Then the wind really started playing havoc with the fleet, as a system breeze dominated the sea breeze and came in at around 20 knots from 60 degrees right of where the wind had been. More shifty racing allowed each fleet to sail 3 races on the day, with nothing yet decided as we head into the second day of qualifying.
Today was blue fleets chance to go sailing having watched yellow fleet get two races in on the first day of qualification. The day started off wonderfully, with 12 knots of breeze and open waters. Defending World Champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) were quick off the line and quick to get to the favoured right side, kicking off the event with a bullet. They followed that up with a 4 and a 7 for three top 10′s and first position on the day.
The only other team to manage all top 10′s were fellow Kiwi youngsters Logan Dunning Beck and Jack Simpson, who sailed to an impressive 5, 8, 6 in the 40 boat fleet. Much more common were teams with a “A Good, a Bad, and an Ugly,” said standout Irish crew, Matt McGovern.
Many of the top teams only managed one or two races inside the top 10, leaving most teams vulnerable to missing out on gold fleet tomorrow. Races 2 and 3 for the Blue fleet were in a dying wind that backed left until it came from over an island, causing instability both in the breeze and fleet. The shifty racing left few boats in a comfortable position but does leave open many intriguing possibilities for the final bit of qualifying. Then it was yellow fleets turn to hit the water again. They got half way through their first race and it had to be abandoned.
49er and 49er FX Reports courtesy of Ben Remocker, International 49er Class Association
After a long day of waiting the Nacra 17 sailors were very keen this morning to start racing on their second day of competition. Around 12:00 the wind was enough to go out and Yellow Fleet left the beach. They could race two good races. Around 15.00 the Blue Fleet could start their first race. But after their first race they had to wait a long time on the water because of windshifts and wind speed that had ups and downs. For both sailors and Race Committee these are very difficult days, all the more knowing that during the last few months of training the conditions were very beautiful.
Reigning World Champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou won both races in the Yellow Fleet. They are very happy with these results of this first day, “During the races of our fleet the conditions were very good. We are happy with this result, but we have still a lot of races to go.”
The Dutch team Mandy Mulder and Coen de Koning were also very happy with their results of the day, “With a 2nd and 7th place it’s a good start of this championship. We are happy to be in second position after two races and look forward for coming days.”
The Italian team of Lorenzo Bressani and Giovanni Micol finished third and eighth in the yellow fleet. They started sailing the Nacra 17 this year and have trained a lot in Santander over the last month. Bressani is a professional sailor who won the 2010 and 2011 Melges 24 and Melges 32 World Championships whilst Micol previously sailed the 470. They were particularly happy about their second race performance because they had a bad start and came back from behind to the eighth position, “Coming from behind to eighth gives us a lot of self-confidence. This means we have the speed and power to sail in front of the fleet. Our goal is to be in the Gold Fleet, but this start of the event makes us very happy.”
Spanish team, Iker Martinez and Tara Pacheco, decided to stop racing and have packed their boat to go home. Tara had a surgery a few weeks ago and is still recovering. During the first race the team noticed that they were not able to sail 100%. Martinez said, “We want to go for 100% and that’s not possible at this moment. So we decided to stop now and go home and give Tara the time to recover fully.”
In the Blue Fleet the Swiss team Matias Buhler and Nathalie Brugger won the single Nacra 17 blue fleet race ahead of British team Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond. The Swiss team said, “We did a very good first race and are very happy with this result. Unfortunately we didn’t race any more. But the Race Committee did all they could do in these difficult weather conditions with shifty wind and up and downs. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow.”
Nacra 17 Report courtesy of Edwin Lodder, Nacra 17 Class Association
The Olympic qualification hunt is now well and truly game on, with 16 nations advancing to gold fleet and gunning for the ten qualification places on offer for Rio 2016. A win from race 3 in the yellow fleet popped the 2012 Olympic silver medallists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR) into the overall lead, helped by the discard coming into play to knock out their 11th place finish from race 1. Austria’s Lara Vadlau and Jola Ogar took the win in the blue fleet and moved up to second, whilst overnight leaders Maelenn Lematire and Aloise Retornaz (FRA) dropped from first to third overall, after finishing eighth.
Race 4 was a nail biter, with gold and silver fleet qualification on the cards to decide the shortlist of nations in with a chance at Olympic qualification. The Blue fleet winners Michelle Broekhuizen and Marieke Jongens (NED) took massive leaderboard gains and Slovenia’s Tina Mrak and Veronika Macarol did the same in the yellow fleet.
Mills and Clark kept consistent to take a third place finish and wrap up the four race qualification series in first overall, with Vadlau and Ogar holding onto second and leaping up to third overall from their 3,1 scores are Broekhuizen and Jongens.
The gold fleet final series is set to unfurl into a massive battle for Olympic qualification as teams from 16 nations fight for just 10 nation slots. Brazil receives an automatic slot to Rio 2016, and as Brazil’s two 470 Women teams have both advanced to gold fleet, the battle for them is all about finishing ahead of each other.
Lemaitre and Retornaz proved their day one race performance was no fluke, scoring an 8,10 today to advance to gold fleet in fourth overall. Impressive form from the 2013 and 2014 470 Junior World Champions, positions them as the only junior circuit team to qualify to gold fleet. Clear validation of how tough it is stepping up to senior fleet racing.
“It is great, because we have been training a lot,” said Lemaitre. “But the first day, we were really surprised to do this, but now we know it is possible so we will see. It is fantastic and great for us as it is very difficult in the senior fleet. We just did less mistakes than the others. We have to continue again and again. This is just four races so far,” she smiled.
Based on provisional results and subject to any protest outcomes, the 16 nations in the gold fleet in with a shot at qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are (in country order): Australia, Austria, China, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, United States of America.
The day was really complicated and long for the 74-boat 470 men fleet. Three races were on the cards for all to get the qualification series completed, but the breeze again failed to play ball. Two races were held for the yellow fleet and just one for blue today. The conditions put pressure on sailors to stay focused and ready to jump into action as the breeze fills in, and today’s six hours wait on the water was the longest day so far.
“It has been pretty hard, really shifty and really variable,” commented 2012 Olympic Champion Mat Belcher. “It is really hard to run a race in these conditions. I guess what was a bit disappointing today was in one race we were stopped for more than 5 minutes in just 2 knots of breeze.”
In total contrast to their opening race 37th place, Spain’s Onan Barreiros/Juan Curbelo won race 2 in the yellow fleet and leapt up the leaderboard. But disappointment for the world ranked #13 pair as they took a black flag startline penalty in race 3 and will now need a top finish tomorrow to guarantee their place in the top 50% of the fleet who will advance to gold fleet racing. Numerous teams suffered the same fate with ten others boats awarded a BFD penalty. Penalty scores for other top teams for Rule 42 infringements has also put the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons in the leaderboard shuffle.
Over in the blue fleet, the USA’s Stuart McNay/David Hughes repeated their form from Sunday’s opening day of racing, and took another win in race 2 to move into the overall lead. Although the blue fleet count only 2 races to the yellow fleet’s 3 races, the Americans still top the overall leaderboard, as in practice their race result from race 3 would be discardable anyway, leaving them counting two race wins.
So, the line-up for gold and silver fleets is still fully open, and teams are just hoping to get the qualification series wrapped up on Wednesday, and move onto the six race final series on Thursday and Friday to ensure a full schedule of races for this critical Olympic qualification event.
The pressure is now on the Race Committee to use Wednesday’s scheduled reserve day and get the qualification series finalized, with one more race for yellow and two for blue fleet.
470 Report courtesy of Luissa Smith, International 470 Class Association
The Finn fleet only got in one race despite being on the water for eight hours. Yellow fleet was won by Oliver Tweddell (AUS) who led the entire race from Deniss Karpak (EST) and Josip Olujic (CRO). The Blue fleet was stacked with big names but the returning Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN), the London 2012 Silver medalist, back after a two year lay-off, led round the top mark from London 2012 bronze medallist Jonathan Lobert (FRA). Giles Scott (GBR) rounded in 10th and made gains throughout to pass Høgh-Christensen at the last mark to take the race win. The Dane crossed in second with Lobert third.
The fleet then waited afloat for another six hours with no further racing as the wind performed circles around the fleet. So two days in, 13 hours afloat and just one race to show for it. Tweddell explained his race, “The first race was pretty tricky. I started at the pin and went left and got a nice bit of pressure and a left hand shift which worked out quite well and then basically held my lead from Deniss Karpak all race.”
On the race committee, “Luigi (PRO – Peter Reggio) and his race team were actually doing a really good job. They weren’t sending us off for a bad race in dodgy wind. We actually got a second race off but they abandoned it after a couple of minutes as the breezed died and then filled in. So they did a really good job, but the breeze was never stable enough to get a second race in. Unfortunately that’s sailing.”
Høgh-Christensen said, “I had a good start and almost hit the pin end starting boat. But I had a good first beat and hit the shift right and had two fast guys behind me with Giles and Lobert. I managed to keep the Frenchie behind me but Giles was just too quick downwind. The last run was free pumping. The French went high and Giles went low and I had to cover one of them. The French was in second so I covered him and lost Giles.
“It was a very simple race. I got off at the right end and hit the right shift. My boat speed was Ok, and I was happy with my downwind speed even though I lost Giles, so I’m happy.” Scott said, “Day two has been very long. We had only the one race which was frustrating. But that race did go quite well and I got Jonas and Lobert at the bottom of the last run, which was nice. It got the championship off to a good start, but I just would have liked some more racing. “Then we had a long wait, and we were in pretty late in the evening, so hoping for better tomorrow. The wind was a decent strength but just wasn’t consistent. Luigi did his best to try and get us away but it wasn’t right.”
Finn Report courtesy of Robert Deaves, International Finn Class Association
Phillip Buhl (GER) had a perfect day scoring two first places and moves up to fifth overall. He said, “We finally had a little bit more wind on the race course today and still a little bit tricky and gusty but at least we got to more races in. For more it was obviously very satisfying as it is not every day you get two bullets in a world championship. In the first race I had a good start and good first upwind leg and rounded third, I think, and then got through to first on the downwind leg overtaking Pavolos Kontides (CYP) and Alessio Spadoni (ITA).
“In the second race I started near the pin boat but was not so good but I wanted to go left. Near the top of the upwind I got a little lucky with a left shift that was bigger than I expected and then I took the lead on the second upwind.” The new overall leader is Tom Burton (AUS). Burton, who has been parked in third place for two days seized his chance by scoring a fourth in the sixth race and then using his previous eighth place discard to get out of jail as he recorded a 16th in the seventh race. Overnight leader, Nick Heiner (NED) could only manage two 12th places and drops into second overall. He explained, “I had a good comeback race in the first race until I got a yellow flag penalty on the second upwind which I was bit surprised about and it cost me 4 places. It kind of made sail a little less free in the second race but it was really tricky conditions with a lot of patchy weather. It is not good enough for first place but tomorrow is another day.” Nick Thompson moves up to third .
Olympic Silver medallist, Marit Bouwmeester (NED), finally made it into first position overall after a steady climb up the rankings with consistent results and a first place in the only race of the day ahead of Evi Van Acker (BEL). Bouwmeester had a fairly easy time leading from start to finish, “It was tricky. I had a good start and managed to get off the start line well. I don’t think I was first round the first mark but I had good downwind speed and had the lead by the next mark. I was happy. We were proper hiking in steady conditions which was really nice after all the previous light winds.”
Veronika Fenclova (CZE) scored a third place that was enough to get her back up into second spot whilst others around dropped back in the stronger wind.
Laser and Laser Radial Reports Courtesy of Jeff Martin, International Laser Class Association.