Archive | Olympics

Welcome to #CleanRio

Posted on 28 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

Welcome to #CleanRio!

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s one of the actual race area of the 2016 Rio Olympics, taken this morning, 28 July 2014, a week before the first test event in the Brazilian city. More precisely, this photo was taken approximately in the center of the Copacabana Race Course, the fourth of the five Olympic sailing courses.

Nevertheless, what is probably scarier isn’t the visible but the invisible pollution the world’s best sailors will be facing in the test events as well as, obviously, the Olympics, in the following two years.

As the teams from around the world are gathering for the Aquece Rio – International Sailing Regatta 2014 we will have extensive coverage of not only the sailing action but also the health perils they will be facing.

Photo depicting the current state of Copacabana Race Course, the fourth of the five Olympic sailing courses. Rio de Janeiro, 28 July 2014

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Luke Patience / Elliot Willis (GBR) win 470 men European Championship title ahead of Medal Race

Posted on 15 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: 470 European Championship]  Stunning sailing conditions across the race course on the Saronic Gulf in two nailbiting races, sees the 2014 470 Men European Championship title already awarded with a day to spare.  The race track is immediately off Greece’s capital city Athens, with a breeze of around 10-12 knots and another blue sky day raced against the iconic Acropolis in the background.

The British pair of Luke Patience/Elliot Willis saved their best to last, knocking out back to back second place finishes in races 9 and 10 to become the 2014 470 Men European Champions.

In the 470 Women, the battle for the European Championship title has another day to go and will be between two boats, Austria’s Lara Vadlau/Jola Ogar and Great Britain’s Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark. The British will start the double-points medal race on the back foot, sitting on an 11 point deficit behind the Austrians, but with the Medal Race counting for double points there is still plenty to play for.

The tension here at the 2014 470 Open European Championships now escalates to Tuesday’s double point Medal Races. The windward/leeward medal race course will be set just off the Yacht Club of Greece, from where spectators will enjoy an elevated shoreside viewpoint.

470 MEN
More top finishes for the teams at the front of the leaderboard as racing heated up, with Mathew Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS) and Luke Patience/Elliot Willis (GBR) increasing their points margin over the fleet. Tomorrow, Patience/Willis will be hoping their medal race finish will add the 470 Open European Championship title to the 2014 470 European Championship title already secured.

“It is pretty cool. Elliot has been saving his muscles to last,” grinned Patience who improves on last year’s 470 European silver medal with former crew Joe Glanfield. “He has been absolutely pumping on the wire like a work horse for the past few days. We have just been on fire with speed. Everything has just felt good the last four races and yeh here we are with a European title. But there is still a race to go tomorrow and the Aussies are catchable,” he continued, referring to their chance at the Open European Championship title too. “It is quite a big margin of points, but it is catchable so we will be head down thinking about tomorrow.”

“To leap forwards today was amazing,” explained Patience on the pair’s steady climb up the leaderboard over the past few days. “It was just gorgeous champagne 470 sailing today. There was a bit of a gap between us and Mat going into today. Mat doesn’t often in those conditions have a big number under his belt so it was a big ask for us to do what we did. But as ever with these things, our sport is so complex, and we knew that if we just went into the into the day trying to control everything we could control, if we did that well we would be in a good place and that is all you can really ask.”

An astounding success in such a short period of time for the team has not surprised Patience, who commented, “Four or five months is not very long together at all. I think we always knew starting the team that it felt good and we felt like we had potential. To come here after such a short time and be comfortably racing at the front of the fleet and feeling good about what we are doing is great. Absolutely we dreamed we could do this, it is what we do it for, but in such short time it is great.”

Reflecting on their rapid success being a warning to others, Patience could only grin, “I hope so!”

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s assault to do the double and secure the Open European Championship title, Patience concluded, “The point is we have nothing to lose. We physically can’t move – we can’t be worse than second behind Mat, so it is ours to take.”

Belcher and Ryan won the 2013 Open European Championship title, and carry a 9 point advantage over the British in their quest for a successful defence.

“This week we just wanted to focus on our performance and we know that all the teams are in good shape and we are in good shape, so it has been a good event for us to see where we are at and check in,” said Belcher. “This year has been quite difficult for us with a lot of things to cope with, so it is important for us to see where we are at before the ISAF Worlds and we are really happy with how we have sailed this week.”

With the British assured the European Championship gold medal, the hunt is now on for silver and bronze medals with three teams in contention;  Joonas Lindgren/Niklas Lindgren (FIN), Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO) and Matthias Schmid/Florian Reichstaedter (AUT). Just 6 points separates these teams and with the double points Medal Race, it is going to be a really close contest to decide the remaining European and Open European podium places.

Not the best of days for Finland’s Lindgren brothers, but fortunately their high scores were exceeded by their nearest rivals. So results which would normally have seen them drop down the leaderboard, actually pushed them up to third overall.  The team were 25th at the first mark in race 9 and fought back through the fleet, taking advantage of shifts. Race 10 again saw them struggling from the back in a tricky race, but now their attention is firmly on tomorrow.

“What we do now is check everything is OK with the boat and then we go home,” explained Joonas. “We will try to be relaxed but not too much, as we don’t want to start to feel as though the regatta is over. With the other two boats so close, we will just try to do our own race and basically aim for a race win.”

Worst day of the series for Croatia’s Fantela/Marenic today who are three time European Champions. “It will be a nailbiting medal race again,” said Fantela. “We will sail as usual 100% all in and in the end hopefully win a medal. It is all really open. Whoever sails the best tomorrow will win.”

A surprise disappearance from the Medal Race line-up for the 2103 European Champions Sofian Bouvet/Jeremie Mion (FRA) who spiralled downwards from 5th going into the day to 12th, after struggling with form and scoring their worst pair of races of the series; a 33,20.

470 Men Medal Race Line-Up – Top 10 after 10 Races
1. Mathew Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS) – 26    pts
2. Luke Patience/Elliot Willis (GBR) – 35 pts
3. Joonas Lindgren/Niklas Lindgren (FIN) – 63 pts
4. Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO) – 67 pts
5. Matthias Schmid/Florian Reichstaedter (AUT) – 69 pts
6. Lucas Calabrese/Juan de la Fuente (ARG) – 81 pts
7. Panagiotis Mantis/Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) –86 pts
8. Stuart McNay/David Hughes (USA) – 87 pts
9. Panagiotis Kampouridis/Efstathios Papadopoulos (GRE) – 89 pts
10. Onan Barreiros/Juan Curbelo (ESP) – 92 pts

470 WOMEN
With most of the 470 Women fleet already carrying at least one double-pointer on their scoreline, today should have been all about consolidation and avoiding adding any more double digit results to scorelines. But not all the leading group managed it.  Importantly for them though, the same teams on the leaderboard top 10 at the start of the day are still there, with just a few ups and downs in order.

Overnight series leaders Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR) did not even feature in the top 10 of the pack in race 9, finishing 18th and losing their #1 position on the leaderboard to Austria’s Lara Vadlau/Jola Ogar who finished in 5th place.

“The wind was a bit round to the right, where it had been coming in most days, and generally tracked left and we kind of had that in our heads a bit too much off the startline,” explained Mills. “We got a bad start, but held our line, but did a pretty poor job of lane management. From there we had a good run, but then a poor second beat, getting caught the wrong side of shifts. So we made our lives hard.”

All change for the British in race 10, with Vadlau/Ogar setting the pace and Mills/Clark right behind at the first windward mark, chased by Slovenia’s Tina Mrak/Veronika Macarol in third. Fortunately for them, Mills/Clark managed to increase pace and pass the Austrians to claim the win to keep themselves in contention for the European Championship title. Tuesday’s double-points Medal Race will see the British and Austrians facing off for gold.

Delighted to be guaranteed either gold or silver, Clark added, “The first race was disappointing as the Austrians have a significant lead on us, so it is going to be hard. They have been sailing amazingly all week. We were a bit deflated after that first race, but we have to put it in context of where we are and what we actually came here to achieve. To even be guaranteed a medal and in with a shot of winning the Championship is over our expectations. We are super pleased.”

For the Austrian pair, their longer term campaign only came together  a few weeks ago when Ogar’s nationality switch from Polish to Austrian was formalized by the Austrian government. So now they are on one mission; to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in September and then it is game on for a medal in Rio.

A great day ahead for Austrian sailing tomorrow, with Vadlau/Ogar guaranteed either gold or silver and their 470 Men team mates Schmid/Reichstaedter also in the hunt for silver or bronze.

“We had a pretty solid day, it was a great day for us,” said Vadlau.

Vadlau’s partnership with Ogar creates an incredibly balanced team. “I am older and sometimes when Lara wants to be a bit extreme I will always say safety first,” explained Ogar. “Lara has a brilliant mind and I only have to watch and remind her not to freak out so much on the water.”

“Sailing is about consistency and controlling yourself and we have managed it,” continued Ogar. “We know how to sail, but we were a little afraid about the boat handling. The other teams are all the time training and we have been out of the boat,” she added referring to Vadlau’s knee surgery earlier in the year.

Impressive to consider that just two years ago Vadlau finished at the back of the fleet at the 2012 Olympics and she is now beating both the London 2012 Olympic gold and silver medallists.

Behind the Austrians and British, any one of three teams has a shot at European Championship bronze with Tina Mrak/Veronika Macarol (SLO), Sophie Weguelin/Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) and Camille Lecointre/Helene Defrance (FRA) all in contention. The Slovenians have the upper hand and would need to finish in 9th or 10th with the British or French winning to lose their grasp on the bronze medal. If they secure the final spot on the podium

Back in 10th place at the first mark for race 9, the Olympic Gold medallists Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL) made things difficult for themselves , but punched their way through to finish in 5th place and followed up with a 2nd in race 10, overtaking the British and moving into second overall. The Kiwis are guaranteed a podium finish for the 470 Open European Championships, in what will be a three-nation battle between the Austrians, Kiwis and British to decide first, second and third.

“It was a solid day for us,” commented Powrie. “Really lovely conditions – a really stellar Athens day.”

Commenting on their chance at the Open European crown, Aleh said, “Looking at the points for tomorrow, we will have to just sail our own race. Since there are three of us it is not a one on one, so we just have to sail well.”

“We hope the Brits and Austrians will just take each other out and we will just keep on sailing,” laughed Aleh.

470 Women Medal Race Line-Up – Top 10 after 10 Races
1. Lara Vadlau/Jolanta Ogar (AUT) – 35 pts
2. Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL) – 42 pts
3. Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR) – 46pts
4. Anne Haeger/Briana Provancha (USA) – 68 pts
5. Tina Mrak/Veronika Macarol (SLO) – 69 pts
6. Fernanda Oliveira/Ana Barbachan (BRA) – 74 pts
7. Sophie Weguelin/Eilidh Mcintyre (GBR) – 84 pts
8. Camille Lecointre/Helene Defrance (FRA) – 84 pts
9. Afrodite Kyranakou/Anneloes Van Veen (NED) – 91 pts
10. Alisa Kirilyuk/Liudmila Dmitrieva (RUS) – 119 pts

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Burling/Tuke & Nielsen/Olsen are 2014 Seiko 49er & 49erFX European Champions

Posted on 13 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: 2014 Seiko 49er & 49erFX European Championship] The defending European Champions held on to their crowns in both the men’s and women’s fleets at the Seiko 49er & 49erFX European Championship, which reached a thrilling conclusion today in Helsinki.

Ida Marie Nielsen and Marie Olsen went into today’s three Grand Final races just a point behind the New Zealanders Alex Maloney and Molly Meech. The Danes looked relaxed but determined and sailed a very solid three races, waiting for the others to make mistakes. With the Theatre Style racing format, principal race officer David Campbell-James set a short course for the top ten 49erFX crews of just 750m from top to bottom, and just 450m wide, each edge of the course limited by boundary lane ropes similar to those seen at a swimming gala.

With the fleet forced into multiple tacks and gybes on the two-lap course, and the wind blowing a shifty, gusty 14 to 18 knots, crisp boathandling and fast decision-making were critical. The Kiwi team reached the top mark of the first race in good shape, in 2nd place behind Jena Mai Hansen and Katia Iversen of Denmark. However Maloney and Meech were unable to bear away, and continued further upwind. “There was a big gust as we arrived at the top mark,” explained Maloney, “and we didn’t feel we could turn the boat away, so we held on a few moments.” It was a critical few seconds that allowed other boats to overtake, and it set the tone for the reigning World Champions who just couldn’t quite make things go their way today.

Meanwhile Nielsen and Olsen recovered from a shaky moment to finish 6th in the first race, and then put the hammer down to win the final two races, securing Championship victory. The Brazilian team Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze also finished strongly with two 3rd places, putting them on equal points with the Kiwis. The Brazilians’ better finish in the final race gave them the silver medal on countback, relegating the World Champions to the bronze medal position. The top three – Denmark, Brazil, New Zealand – are an exact replica of the medal winners at the 2013 European Championships a year earlier in Aarhus, Denmark.

Asked which European title they had most enjoyed winning, Olsen commented: “It was great winning on home waters last year in Denmark, but the battle was much closer this year, so we’re very happy to have defended our title.”

Attention then turned to the 49er men, with the reigning World Champions from New Zealand going into the final three races with an 11-point margin over the 2012 Olympic Champions from Australia. Pete Burling and Blair Tuke were fast out of the blocks, taking the lead in the first race. Meanwhile, behind them carnage ensued for Nathan Outteridge and Iain ‘Goobs’ Jensen. “We had a port-starboard incident with John Pink up the first leg,” said Outteridge. “Then down the run Goobs’s trapeze wire snapped, we reckon from Pinky’s boom nicking the rope earlier.” With Jensen in the drink, Outteridge tried to drop the gennaker singlehanded. “My plan was to drop the kite, sail round the leeward gate and pick Goobs up on the way back up the next leg. But I capsized, and all I managed to do was give Goobs 200 metres more of swimming to do.” By the time Jensen was back on board with the boat upright, the fleet was long gone. Last place for the Aussies.

The capsize put the Australians into a tight battle for the silver or bronze with the Germans, Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel, and Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign from Great Britain. Then it went bad for Outteridge again, this time at the windward mark of race 2 as he went round in traffic and with wind shadow from another boat, found himself waterskiing off the back of the boat as Jensen tried to hoist the gennaker. The Australian boat narrowly avoided a capsize but once again was at the back of the fleet. Incredibly the Aussies salvaged a 7th from the race, but a 3rd place for the Kiwis proved sufficient to give them overall victory with a race in hand.

With the gold medal already decided, spectators turned their attention to the three-way fight between Great Britain, Germany and Australia. Once again the Kiwis led the way, winning the race by a big margin. Outteridge sailed a solid race for 2nd place, but the Germans had been too consistent with 3,2,3 – taking the silver medal by just over 2 points from the British, who sneaked the bronze by just 0.6 points from the Australians. The Olympic Champions would leave Helsinki empty-handed. “Oh well, you can’t have things go your way all time,” said Jensen. “I guess we’ll have to do some practice.” And practice is what they will need if they’re to reclaim the mantle of invincibility from the New Zealanders who have gone unbeaten since taking the Olympic silver medal two years ago at London 2012.

“We’re stoked to win,” said Tuke. “We loved the racing here, especially the theatre-style racing we did today. It was just awesome sailing.” Next stop for the Kiwis and many of the other top teams in the 49er and 49erFX is Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic test regatta next month.

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Aussies hold firm in 470 men – British reclaim lead in 470 women

Posted on 13 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: 470 European Championship] Another testing day on the Saronic Gulf waiting for the sea breeze to fill in across the race track on race day 4 at the 2014 470 Open European Championships. Two more races completed for each fleet, with just two more to go on Monday 14 July to determine the top 10 who will advance to Tuesday’s double-points Medal Race.

The breeze looked hopeful as the fleet headed out around midday for a 1300 hours scheduled warning signal, but a combination of general recalls, shifting breeze and lack of breeze meant patience was the name of the game. A wait of over two hours for the sea breeze to fill in, saw the first race for the 470 Men Gold fleet get underway in a 10 knot breeze.

470 MEN

After several attempts to start the thirty-seven boat 470 men gold fleet due to general recalls, wind shifts and postponement, the first race of the day got underway at 1528 hours.

By their standards, Mat Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS scored their worst day’s race results of the Championship so far, with finishes of 5,9, but the pair still remain the class act here in Athens and are way ahead on points over the rest of the fleet after 8 races. The Australians have no result worse than a 9th place, so room on their scorecard for a bad day if it unexpectedly happens tomorrow.

In a contrast of form Great Britain’s Luke Patience/Elliot Willis enjoyed their best day of racing, scoring a 4,2 and shift up to second overall, 11 points adrift of the Aussies.

Front of the fleet racing for the world #1 ranked pair of Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO), who secured two confident starts at the pin end and knocked out their best scorecard with 6,1 finishes shifting them up to third overall.

Plummeting out of the top three and the top 10 go Spain’s Onan Barreiros/Juan Curbelo. The pair had to play it safe today, with a 32 score already in their hands, but a black flag penalty followed by a 22nd place finish marked a disastrous day of racing. A big challenge ahead tomorrow to get back onto their usual consistent form tomorrow and leap back into the top 10 for the Medal Race.

470 Men – Top 10 after 8 Races
1. Mathew Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS) – 20 pts
2. Luke Patience/Elliot Willis (GBR) – 31 pts
3. Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO) – 37 pts
4. Joonas Lindgren/Niklas Lindgren (FIN) – 40 pts
5. Sofian Bouvet/Jeremie Mion (FRA) – 44 pts
6. Lucas Calabrese/Juan de la Fuente (ARG) – 44 pts
7. Matthias Schmid/Florian Reichstaedter (AUT) – 55 pts
8. Panagiotis Mantis/Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) – 58 pts
9. Pierre Leboucher/Nicolas Le Berre (FRA) – 61 pts
10. Panagiotis Kampouridis/Efstathios Papadopoulos (GRE) – 63 pts

470 WOMEN

A demanding day for the 470 Women who spent four hours on the water before getting their first start underway.

Leaderboard change as the 2012 Olympic Silver Medallists Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR) reclaim the lead over Austria’s Lara Vadlau/Jolanta Ogar (AUT). Olympic Gold Medallist Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL) remain in third.

Defending 470 Women’s European Champion helm Camille Lecointre of France, racing with new crew Helene Defrance moves up into the top 10 after winning race 7 and following up with a 9th in race 8. They are still 41 points off the top three, but with two race tomorrow everything is still possible in this fifty-one boat women’s fleet.

All the top teams are carrying big point results, so safe racing and consolidation will be the priority with just two races remaining ahead of the Medal Race on Tuesday.

470 Women – Top 10 after 8 Races
1. Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR) – 27 pts
2. Lara Vadlau/Jolanta Ogar (AUT) – 28 pts
3. Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL) – 33 pts
4. Sophie Weguelin/Eilidh Mcintyre (GBR) – 49 pts
5. Anne Haeger/Briana Provancha (USA) – 57 pts
6. Fernanda Oliveira/Ana Barbachan (BRA) – 59 pts
7. Tina Mrak/Veronika Macarol (SLO) – 63 pts
8. Afrodite Kyranakou/Anneloes Van Veen (NED) – 69 pts
9. Camille Lecointre/Helene Defrance (FRA) – 74 pts
10. Alisa Kirilyuk/Liudmila Dmitrieva (RUS) – 86 pts

Racing Schedule for Monday 14 July 2014

Two races are scheduled for all fleets on Monday 14 July 2014. The 470 Women get underway first with a scheduled warning signal of 1200 hours, followed by the 470 Men Gold and the 470 Men Silver fleets.

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Greek wind god blows across Saronic gulf

Posted on 12 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: 470 European Championship] Greek mythology has it that Aeolus is the ruler of the wind, and today the wind was in charge across the race track of the Saronic Gulf.

An 18-20 knot breeze for the first race of the day delivering some exhilarating races – three for the women and two for the men.

Yesterday, the seventy-three boat 470 Men fleet were split into Gold and Silver for the final series of races, ahead of the top 10 Medal Race on Tuesday 15 July 2014. So 2 races down today and four more to go to decide the 470 Men top 10. The fifty-one boat 470 Women’s fleet are sailing a single series, so continue as one fleet until the Medal Race.

The quality of the racing was described as beautiful today, as the world’s top sailors battle it out round the race track – it really is a spectacle to witness.

470 MEN
Two race wins for Mat Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS) extends their winning margin to 10 points over the second placed team, whilst behind Finland’s Joonas Lindgren/Niklas Lindgren move up to second place swapping with Spain’s Onan Barreiros/Juan Curbelo who drop to third.

Still very early days in this Championship, with another 4 races scheduled to complete the final series, but Belcher/Ryan are so far trumping the fleet with race wins and consistency. In an amazing display of superiority today, they showed what makes them different. From 5th place at the downwind gate, they headed back upwind, onto the reach and downwind to the finish – by which time they had accelerated to the front and won the race with a 150 metre margin over France’s Sofian Bouvet/Jeremie Mion.

Belcher /Ryan are the defending Open European Champions, with Bouvet/Mion the defending European Champions.

“It doesn’t change things so much in our team,” explained Mion referring to their goal to defend the 2013 European gold medal. “For sure we want to defend the title, but we will just focus on doing what we know. Since last year, as a team we are more sure about ourselves, because last year was the beginning of being in the top 3. But now we have been on a long road for the past year and we won ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami and have been on the podium in a lot of regattas, so we are more confident.”

Bouvet chipped in, “It was not easy today as we didn’t expect these conditions as we were more expecting a sea breeze or meltemi, but we did well because we didn’t give up. Sometimes we were in 25th place and fought back. In race 6 we were in last place in the first upwind, but we succeeded to never give up and it turned out ok. We were not far from everyone each time, and on the reach we found good shifts and pressure. These conditions are not just about the speed, but the tactics and strategy.”

Heading up the silver fleet are Switzerland’s Yannick Brauchli/Romuald Hausser.

The 470 Men Gold and Silver fleets are scheduled to contest 2 races on Sunday 13 July 2014, with the first warning signal at 1300 hours for the Gold fleet.

470 Men – Top 10 after 6 Races
1. Mathew Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS) – 9 pts
2. Joonas Lindgren/Niklas Lindgren (FIN) – 19 pts
3. Onan Barreiros/Juan Curbelo (ESP) – 22 pts
4. Luke Patience/Elliot Willis (GBR) – 25 pts
5. Sofian Bouvet/Jeremie Mion (FRA) – 30 pts
6. Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO) – 30 pts
7. Lucas Calabrese/Juan de la Fuente (ARG) – 31
8. Matthias Schmid/Florian Reichstaedter (AUT) – 32 pts
9. Panagiotis Kampouridis/Efstathios Papadopoulos (GRE) – 35 pts
10. Panagiotis Mantis/Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) – 39 pts

470 WOMEN
A perfectly executed race day from Austria’s Lara Vadlau/Jola Ogar who will be wearing the yellow leader bibs tomorrow, with a one point advantage over the 2012 Olympic silver medallists Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR) from their 2,1,8 score. The series discard came into play after race 4, so with teams now able to discard their worst result the leaderboard has switched around a bit. The 2012 Olympic Gold Medallists and reigning World Champions Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL) have jumped back up to third.

A tough day for the fifty-one boat women fleet with three demanding races in an opening breeze of 16-18 knots and short waves, easing to around 15 knots for the closing two races.

“It was a tough race today and not a second when we weren’t working hard,” commented Vadlau. “But I think the hard work paid off.”

“The first two races were quite easy for us to read the wind and in the third race the seabreeze came in and it was also OK, but a bit shiftier,” concluded Vadlau.

A misjudged call on a port/starboard incident forced the Austrians into a 720 penalty turn after they crossed the port/starboard incident with the British, and knocked the Austrians back down into eighth place in race 6, a result which Vadlau was hoping would be third before the incident.

Mills/Clark have spent three months out of the boat as they both recover from injury, so a tougher day for them than others.

“Our sailing fitness has taken a bit over the last few months,” said Mills, “so it was a pretty physical day for us and we are feeling pretty exhausted. Physically in the boat, the first race I was a bit nervous as when it is windy is when my back struggles. A few twinges, but everything held up reasonably well and we soon settled into it and could relax during the race.”

Despite their consistent day the British pair were not happy about their boat handling.

“We made it difficult for ourselves,” laughed Clark. “In that wind and those waves shows it. So we were on basic hoists and that kind of thing. We struggled a bit which put us in the pack. But it is really good racing. There are some of the younger fleet who weren’t at the Olympics last time who have pulled through the last two year and are becoming really tough competitors, so it is really good.”

The 470 Men Gold and Silver fleets are scheduled to contest 2 races on Sunday 14 July, with the first warning signal at 1300 hours for the Gold fleet.

470 Women – Top 10 after 6 Races
1. Lara Vadlau/Jolanta Ogar (AUT) – 17 pts
2. Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR) – 18 pts
3. Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL) – 27 pts
4 Sophie Weguelin/Eilidh Mcintyre (GBR) – 28 pts
5. Anne Haeger/Briana Provancha (USA) – 36 pts
6. Fernanda Oliveira/Ana Barbachan (BRA) – 36 pts
7. Afrodite Kyranakou/Anneloes Van Veen (NED) – 52 pts
8. Alisa Kirilyuk/Liudmila Dmitrieva (RUS) – 53 pts
9. Tina Mrak/Veronika Macarol (SLO) – 54 pts
10. Roberta Caputo/Alice Sinno (ITA) – 59 pts

Racing Schedule for Sunday 13 July 2014
Two races are scheduled for all fleets on Sunday 13 July 2014, with the 470 Men Gold getting underway first with a scheduled warning signal of 1300 hours, followed by the 470 Men Silver and then the 470 Women

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Spain’s Martinez and Pacheco win European Nacra 17 title

Posted on 12 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Nacra 17 European Championship] After starting their title challenge in the worst possible way, a hole in their hull after a simple collision on the first day, Spain’s Iker Martinez and Tara Pacheco finished off a long, difficult regatta La Grande Motte, France when they collected their first major title as a partnership by clearly winning the sudden death, tricky light winds medal race to secure the Nacra 17 European Championship.

Representing a first success in the new Olympic chapter of the storied, supremely diverse career of the helm from Hondaribbia in Spain’s Basque country, and the former 470 champion Pacheco, the duo actually built the firm foundations of their success on Friday when they scored three back to back second places when all their main rivals failed to come close in terms of that level of consistency in strong wind conditions.

In today’s medal race the Italian duo Vittorio Bissario and Silvia Sicouri had to win with the Spanish pair in eighth if they were to be overturned.

But it was the wily Martinez and Pacheco who sneaked off the start line in the very light, fickle breeze and got into the biggest and best puff first. They lead Britain’s Olympic gold medallist Pippa Wilson and John Gimson around the windward mark on the first round.
France’s World Champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou rallied after a poor start and took the lead momentarily on the second of three windward legs, but with the wind making a big shift to the right the Spanish had regained the lead at the top of the final round, finishing comfortably ahead of Besson and Riou.

Iker Martinez and Tara Pacheco are the new Nacra 17 European champions!

At one stage the Italians were deep enough in the ten boat fleet that it looked like second overall might go to the French – who had lead until yesterday when they capsized and had to count a 27th in their final aggregate – but Bissario and Sicouri held their nerve and finish second with Besson and Riou content to have salvaged third.

Martinez and Pacheco paired up more 16 months ago and this is their biggest win to date. After Easter’s Princess Sofia Olympic regatta Pacheco had to have an operation to relieve carpal tunnel problems in her forearms which cost them training time, but the ever demanding, hard driving Martinez professed to be happy with their progress, even if he acknowledges that with their Olympic monohull background they still have many areas to catch up with catamaran specialists like Besson – an ex Tornado catamaran sailor who is also current F18 world champion, and the young Italian duo who sailed the Hobie 16 youth catamaran before:

“For sure we are very good where we are now, but the truth is this was a very special regatta with only one real set of conditions – pretty windy – and the medal race today was a little bit tricky, so it probably does not show exactly where every one is in terms of looking towards the World Championships.” Martinez ventured today.

“ I think the guys like Billy Besson and the Italians – I don’t want to say they are unbeatable – but we have to catch up with them. I think they have catamaran knowledge and obviously they are fast. That is where they have the advantage. They always have the boat well set up. We have to learn how to always have the boat well prepared and well set up and all these things. So still we are sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes good.”

La Grande Motte delivered mainly strong winds, even if the first day of racing was lost to a lack of breeze. And one full day was missed because of breezes which were too strong. That meant just three Finals races were sailed. The French duo’s one aberration sullied an otherwise excellent performance which would otherwise have one them the title. The cruel irony is that when they capsized in Friday’s third race, they were sailing super conservatively with Besson off the wire and on the trampoline, holding third place. Their boat stalled in the back of a wave, the ebullient French helm was washed off the boat but for his leg and they capsized when he lost control of the helm.

Meantime Martinez and Pacheco are focused on winning the world title in Santander, where the Spanish sailing team do a lot of their strong winds training, their second home. A fourth Volvo round the world race awaits Martinez but he confirms his strong commitment to a programme which he hopes will bring him a second Olympic gold medal:

“It will be a difficult balance. Now from the Volvo to the Olympics there is much more time. But I probably wont do all the legs of the Volvo. It is not 100 per cent yet. My idea is to help the team as much as I can but I have a commitment here with the Spanish Olympic committee and with Tara and with everyone involved here. I cant stop completely but I will help the team as much as I can and try to make the Volvo team as good as we can. We don’t even have 100 days before the start and we have to prepare a boat and a team, the whole game. It is a pretty exacting, exciting project and a very busy year for sure.”

Final standings:

1 Iker Martinez/Tara Pacheco ESP 23pts
2 Vittorio Bissaro/Silvia Sicouri ITA 42pts
3 Billy Besson/Marie Riou FRA 46pts
4 Allan Norregaard/Line Just DEN 59pts
5 Jason Waterhouse/Lisa Darmanin AUS 62pts
6 Pippa Wilson/John Gimson GBR 67pts
7 Rene Groeneveld/Steven Krol NED 69pts
8 Thomas Zajac/Tanja Frank AUT 70pts
9 Matjas Bahler/Nathalie Brugger SUI 73pts
10 Nicole Van Der Velden/Thijs Visser 80pts

They said

Iker Martinez (ESP) European champion with Tara Pacheco: “It means we are improving, slowly. We are improving and that is good news. We have done quite a lot of training but really not as much as we would have liked to do. It is not just a new class but Tara and myself are a new team together with a new coach. Santi Lopez is coaching us we had a long years of fighting for selection with him so it is nice to have him on our side now. He was the head coach for London for the team and now he is coaching us so we are very lucky to have someone with so much experience. We were mainly in Santander training but went to Morocco with the French guys and we travelled a lot. It all helps. Every day helps, we find new problems every day and we solve them and move one step forwards. For sure we are very good where we are now, but the truth is this was a very special regatta with only one real set of conditions – pretty windy – and the medal race today was a little bit tricky, so it probably does not show exactly where every one is in terms of looking towards the World Championships. I think the guys like Billy Besson and the Italians – I don’t want to say they are unbeatable – but we have to catch up with them. I think they have catamaran knowledge and obviously they are fast. That is where they have the advantage. They always have the boat well set up. We have to learn how to always have the boat well prepared and well set up and all these things. So still we are sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes good. Yesterday was great we were on the limit and it was very shifty and that was good for us. We did not have any major things.

Today it was the kind of day when it could be simple if we are in front. For the Italians to beat us they had to win and we had to be eighth. That sounds an easy one but after what we saw on the water we could have been first or last as easily. It was not a relaxing race for sure. I think it was down to the first puff and who got away. We were in front from the beginning. It was not simple but it could be under control.”

Vittorio Bissario (ITA) 2nd overall: “We are happy to have held on to second place and on a day like today we are happy to have done that. It was not easy. It was really complicated. We know that in these conditions that luck can play a big part and so we are happy in our ability today. Now to relax. We need to take some time to relax and have a week off. Then we sail for one week on Garda and them move to Santander at the beginning of August to train there.

Here we feel complete. We are not maybe the best at starting, or the fastest, but all in all I think we are a complete team and I think that is why we can be always there, always regular. We never think of who we are sailing against. They are other boats to sail against not people far less people with Olympic medals. We just try to beat them all.

Marie Riou (FRA) third with Billy Besson: “Here we made it to third step on to the podium and so our honour is saved! It was a good medal race despite our bad start and a complicated first beat. In the end we made some good calls on the first upwind and so rounded third and managed to finish second. We kept an eye on where the Danes and Italians were all the time. At one point we thought we could get second overall but the Italians got themselves back into it at the very last moment.”

It was so shifty. Billy and I had done the Trophée Clairfontaine here and so we had a vague idea of what can happen. On balance we are very happy with our week. The format worked against us a bit in the end because we had to carry that 27th but we sailed well otherwise, three wins and two second places. It’s not bad.”

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Spain’s Iker Martinez and Tara Pacheco lead into Nacra 17 Europeans Medal Race

Posted on 11 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Nacra 17 Europeans]  In terms of sheer consistency double Olympic 49er medallist Martinez and Pachecho were on a different level, strong enough in their boat handling to capitalise on their excellent tactical choices over the three races which were contested in La Grande Motte’s gusty, cross offshore breeze which varied in strength and brought regular shifts in direction.

Their six points tally from the only three Finals races to have been completed was head and shoulders above any of their rivals. Until now it looked like France’s world champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou were on target to add the European title to their World Champions title but after winning the first race comfortably, their second was more ragged. They lead to the first windward mark but then ended up on the wrong side of the sequence of big shifts and dropped to fifth at the second windward mark, finishing eighth.

But it was only 400 metres from the finish line of the very breezy third race of the day when Besson and Riou’s European title challenge faltered. Lying fourth they capsized within sight of the line and struggled to get across the line in 27th place. With only three Finals races sailed – and hence no Finals discard or chance of a discard – their error proves expensive.

It was another windy day in La Grande Motte, one which was again punctuated by long periods waiting. For the gold fleet there was a hold ashore into the evening to see if the breeze would abate enough for another Finals race. It proved to be in vain and so Martinez and Pacheco go into Saturday’s ten boat double points medal race with a lead of 13pts ahead of Italy’s young world ranked 1 pair Vittorio Bissaro and Silvia Sicouri who won the third race today, again showing their prowess in the really breezy stuff.

But helm Bissaro, who – with Sicouri – won the ISAF World Cup events this year in Miami and Hyeres , confirmed they were very disappointed with their first two races today from which they returned a 14th and 10th, considering they spent too much focus on their rivals rather than sailing their own races:

“Sometimes it is not easy to decide the compromise between tactics and strategy and with this kind of wind it is a lot easier to think about the wind and not the competitors and maybe we paid too much attention to the others and not the wind.”

“ Actually we are not very happy because we didn’t sail well today. We were not good at picking the right shifts so we are not happy about the way we sailed in the first two races. At least in the final race we were able to win and that helps us a lot in the ranking. Now we are in second and that’s good for the medal race.”

With Denmark’s Allen Norregard – sailing with Line Just – lying third, two of the top three helms going into the medal race are 49er Olympic medallists, Norregard wining bronze in Weymouth and Portland in 2012.

“ It’s a bit of a surprise we are doing so well. But it’s quite funny to see but I’m actually not that surprised that the 49ers are doing well because I feel that this is very similar to 49er racing so I think the 49er racers have a good way in. I did a bit of sailing on a Tornado as well, and on a 49er, but I think this boat is closer to the 49er than it was to the Tornado.”

“We are still not so good downwind because I am still a bit cautious and don’t want to push it as hard, we need more days like this and to go home and practice more in the big winds.”

“ It’s really close. Everyone could take over each other so there will be no match-racing from anybody I think, it will be all about getting your own race.”

“With Iker I am good. We have always been fighting against each other so tomorrow we will have another fight.”

Hard galvanised experience over 15 years of Olympic 49er sailing, not to mention a gold and a silver medal as well as three 49er world titles grants the upper hand to Martinez, and Pacheco, going into the short, sharp Medal Race which starts at 1600hrs local time. They are 13pts up on the Italians and at 17pts up on the Danish duo the Spanish pair are almost assured of their first medal in the class. Besson and Riou are 21pts behind Martinez and Pacheco and their European title hopes are all but over.

Martinez, who is looking to maximise their improvements before the ISAF World Championships which are on what more or less ranks on his home waters, Santander:

“ We are improving. Here it has mostly been windy and we seem to have been OK, but we are a long way to get to where the Italians and especially Billy and Marie are in all the conditions. We can be competitive in some conditions but not all of them. But a day like this we seem to do OK when some of those guys capsize or things like that. Overall they are still ahead of us, we have to keep improving. Today it looks like we have been better in the breezy stuff, we were good.”

Iker Martinez and Tara Pacheco take the lead. Photo copyright Antoine Beysens

Standings after 5 Qualifying Races and 3 Finals Races:

1. Iker Martinez/ Tara Pacheco (ESP246) 15+2,2,2. 21pts.
2. Vittorio Bissaro/ Silvia Sicouri (ITA200) 9+14,10,1. 34pts.
3. Allan Norregaard/ Line Just (DEN248) 12+3,11,13. 39pts.
4. Billy Besson/ Marie Riou (FRA1) 6+1,8,27. 42pts.
5. Euan McNicol/ Lucinda Whitty (AUS158) 15+5,9,7. 46pts.
6. Jason Waterhouse/ Lisa Darmanin (AUS133) 14+10,15,9. 48pts.
7. Renee Groeneveld/ Steven Krol (NED243) 27+11,12,3. 53pts.
8. Thomas Zajac/ Tanja Franck (AUT205) 34+17,3,6. 60pts.
9. Pipa Wilson/ John Gimson (GBR076) 28+27,1,5. 61pts.
10. Matais Bahler/ Nathalie Brugger (SUI220) 21+15,13,12. 61pts.

They said:

Iker Martinez (ESP): « I think Tara will sleep well tonight. It was not easy today. It was windy but it was not extremely windy, except in the second upwind it was pretty difficult. We had some good comebacks it was quite shifty. It was one of these days where you can find your way in the shifts. We had a problem on the first day when we had a collision and a big hole. And so I had to fix it and do two very quick races and then a lot of waiting around and then today with three races that is nearly half the regatta.

It is the Europeans and so it is the second to most important regatta of the year for us, the worlds are more important. We are building up to Santander. There worlds are the worlds and so there is always pressure there. I think it will be more busy for us there, but it is a place we know well. Here we like finishing the race and going home, there it will not be so easy.

We are improving. Here is has mostly been windy and we seem to have been OK, but we are a long way to get to where the Italians and especially Billy and Marie are in all the conditions. We can be competitive in some conditions but not all of them. But a day like this we seem to do OK when some of those guys capsize or things like that. Overall they are still ahead of us, we have to keep improving. Today it looks like we have been better in the breezy stuff, we were good.”

Vittorio Bissaro (ITA): “Actually we are not very happy because we didn’t sail well today. We were not good at picking the right shift so we are not happy about the way we sailed in the first two races, at least in the final race we were able to win and that helps us a lot in the ranking, now we are in second and that’s good for the medal race.

Sometimes it is not easy to decide the compromise between tactics and strategy and with this kind of wind it is a lot easier to think about the wind and not the competitors and maybe we paid too much attention to the others and not the wind.

We will just go on the water and do our best regatta. Yes we were waiting for another race but the wind actually is really strong so that’s good. We will take whatever happens.

We were not happy when we came in because of the way we sailed but we just want to be focused about the championship and keep going. At the end the only things that say if you sailed well or badly is where you finished in the championship.”

Hopefully tomorrow we will get some lighter wind, we haven’t really had very much light wind. For the result I think we are probably better off but we like to see where we are in lighter wind too.

Allan Norregaard (DEN): “We didn’t really expect to do this good but we are very happy to be where we are. Today it was difficult. We were doing really good upwind but we struggled down-wind so we still have some way to go. We are afraid of putting it in so we are taking it a little bit more slowly than most of the fast guys are so we are losing a lot downwind compared to the really fast guys so we need to go home and work on that.

I think it’s good fun, we did it in Kiel it was actually a really good one. It was a nice short course so really intense racing so that was a nice race. We finished in the middle, I think we were fifth but it was good. A really, really fun race.

It’s really close on the standings now. Everyone could take over each other so there will be no match-racing from anybody I think, it will be all about getting your own race.

That’s quite funny to see (two of the top three 49er medallists) I’m actually not that surprised that the 49ers are doing well because I feel that this is very similar to 49er racing so I think the 49er racers have a good way in. I did a bit of sailing on a Tornado as well, and on a 49er, but I think this boat is closer to the 49er than it was to the Tornado.

Iker and I are good. We have always been fighting against each other so tomorrow we will have another fight.

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World Champions lead into Finals of Nacra 17 European Championships

Posted on 09 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Nacra 17 European Championships] Counting no worse than second places World Champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou lead the overall standings after five races at the Nacra 17 European Championships at La Grande Motte as the fleet split into a 40 strong Gold fleet and 31 Silver fleet. Two further races were sailed in very variable, shifty offshore and cross offshore winds which rose and fell between 5 and 25kts. Besson and Riou were the most consistent in the fleet posting two secure second places, matched for best aggregate tally for the day by Australian cousins Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darman who scored 1,3 to qualify in fourth, just ahead of compatriots Euan McNicol and Lucinda Whitty and Spain’s Iker Martinez and Tara Pachecho.

To try and beat the forecasted strong Mistral winds the racing schedule was advanced by two hours, but the efforts proved largely in vain as the winds initially were too strong. But – contrary to the expected trend – the breezes died away enough to allow two difficult races to be contested for both qualifying fleets. The crews were kept guessing some of the time, with big changes in wind direction from leg to leg, especially later in the day. The veering wind became harder to read as it came more off the shore, making consistency elusive.

Waterhouse and Dalman, past ISAF Youth Worlds champions and Hobie 16 Youth world champions, won the first race of the day, leading from the windward mark and staying ahead of Besson and Riou with Darren Bundock and Nina Curtis third. In the other fleet Franck Cammas and Sophie De Turckheim won their first race here, sailing better in the tactical, shifty conditions than they did on their opening day, Tuesday. And in the second race for this fleet Lucy MacGregor and Andrew Walsh profited nicely when the breeze went right, they gybe set and were able to rise from second to first which they held across the finish, qualifying the British duo in seventh.

Besson and Riou have medalled at all their regattas since last year, Besson holding both the F18 and Nacra 17 world titles at the same time, and they remain on dominant form carrying forwards two second and two first places, even if the French duo until now – have been more focused on working up their new boat here. But Besson notes that the competition is hotting up behind them

“ In reality we are focusing mainly on working up the new boat and polishing how we work together on board. We are in good shape but there are some new teams emerging in recent days. There are the Danish (Norregaard) and even all the Danish team I think are strong. The Argentinian (Santi Lange) has raised his game and as soon as there was a breeze, we see that the New Zealand and Australian team are all right up there “

The young Aussies are relishing the forecasted strong Mistral conditions which they hope will materialise on cue. Waterhouse said:

“ It’s lovely, the breeze is good, I love this weather forecast for the next few days.”

“ We did well I think just by really trying to keep the head out of the boat and picking the right shifts every now and then. It was really up and down so Lisa did a great job of keeping the boat going fast and I just kept my head and pointed the boat in the right direction essentially. We’ve been sailing this for about a year now. We are multihull sailors coming through from the Hobie16 days. I do a bit of A-class stuff, I just got second at the European Championships. I did the F18 World Championships as well but I haven’t won any, Billy has been winning them all apparently. Lisa and I won the ISAF youth world’s together in 2009 in Brazil. Hopefully we can go back to Brazil in a couple of years and win again. We’re cousins, we’ve been sailing together since 2007 and I have known her for a long time before that as well. So we get along just great.”

“ The ultimate goal is Santander and the ISAF Worlds however a result here would be really nice to help us. Naturally I think as Australians we are quite strong in the breeze but in saying that, particularly this season we have been working on our light wind stuff. Last year I would have said I hate the light wind and now I’d say I actually quite enjoy it.”

Racing for the Gold fleet starts 1100hrs Thursday with a forecast for up to 25kts of breeze.

Standings after five races counting four (discard)
1. Billy Besson/ Marie Riou (FRA) (5)1,1,2,2. 6pts
2. Vittorio Bissaro/ Silvia Sicuori (ITA) 1,(6)1,3,4. 9pts
3. Allan Norregaard/ Line Just (DEN) 2,2,4,4 (6). 12pts
4. Jasion Waterhouse/ Lisa Darmanin (AUS) (6) 4,6,1,3. 14pts
5. Euan McNicol/ Lucinda Whitty (AUS) 2,(10) 4,8,1. 15pts
6. Iker Martinez/ Tara Pacheco (ESP) (DNF) RDG 3,2,4,6. 15pts
7. Lucy MacGregor/ Andrew Walsh (GBR) 3,3,(13) 11,1. 18pts
8. Audrey Ogereau/ Matthieu Vandame (FRA) (22) 10,2,6,5. 23pts
9. Matais Bahler/ Nathalie Brugger (SUI) (BFD) 8,5,7,3. 23pts
10. Nicole Van Der Velden/ Thijs Visser (ARU) 8,7,3,5 (9). 23pts

They said:

Mandy Mulder NED: “It was weird. The first race the wind was really up and down and shifting a lot. We came out of it well with a second but are disappointed to get a BFD. The first upwind on the second race it was very windy and for the downwind too. But then the wind dropped and shifted 50 degrees to the right and we had to reach down to the mark. We got a seventh out of that which a struggle but we were happy to get that. La Grande Motte has been quite challenging so for but we are quite happy. We are doing OK. Hopefully the winds will be kind for us in the next days when it counts.”

Ben Saxton GBR: “It was a tricky day really shifty, quite nice overall but winds were from five knots to 25kts and averaging around ten knots. We had some kite issues on the first lap but came back and did better in the second race. We are doing better today. Yesterday we were happy with our speed but the decision making was not so good. Today was a hard day for the decision making but we did that well. It is good to know we can do it. There is lots of wind forecast for every day but it did not materialise. In the greater scheme of things we seem to be able to put in a result at every event which is nice, but we are a bit disappointed with yesterday.”

Andrew Walsh GBR: “It was a pretty even upwind. The second beat we got to the right and the breeze rotated to the right slightly and that got us up to second. On the last run we were the first to gybe set and that got us straight into the lead. It is good to get a win under the belt. It is set up to be a windy regatta and our boat speed is good. It went light at times, yes, but the rest of the time there was plenty of breeze. Not getting too excited about making changes straight away is good, then picking the best settings just before the start is good, otherwise you can get yourselves into problems. It is such a great fleet, in among these sailing superstars, your Bundocks, Iker and Cammas, and then you have the very good up and coming sailors. It is a brilliant mix and so it is always good to get a win.”

Franck Cammas (FRA), winner of Race 4 with Sophie de Turckheim: “There might be a protest against our race win but we’ll see. It was really difficult today. We had a big black cloud and the wind went up and down from five to 25kts. There were some big shifts. On the second round we were almost reaching on the upwind and downwind was almost too tight for the kite. We had a bit of everything. It was changeable but good learning. We got the right sides of the shifts and that was not easy to be safe all the time. We made it simple and seem to have good speed upwind in these conditions.”

Billy Besson (FRA) at the top of the standings with Marie Riou: “It’s not too bad! It’s always good to finish top of qualifying because it all counts. So we have done OK so far even if we are still a bit away from winning the regatta. In reality we are focusing mainly on working up the new boat and polishing how we work together on board. We are in good shape but there are some new teams emerging in recent days. There are Danish (Norregaard) and even all the Danish team I think are strong. The Argentinian (Santi Lange) has raised his game and as soon as there was a breeze, we see that the New Zealand and Australian team are all right up there “

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