Moguls? In the Wind?

worldsailing

Thursday 29 January 2015
Issued on behalf of ISAF Sailing World Cup

There’s a world of difference between skiing a long, smooth run and skiing on moguls. Today, forget the waves, it was the breeze on Biscayne Bay that was “moguls.” Shift upon shift upon shift upon shift.

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This is the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, presented by Sunbrella, with 599 boats and 768 sailors who were adjusting all day to one thing or another. If it wasn’t the wind direction that was changing, it was the wind speed. Which made it all the more notable that three classes produced back-to-back race winners.

Dave Ullman, among many things the 1996 US Rolex Yachtsman of the Year and a three-time 470 world champion, is now coaching U.S. Olympic hopefuls. He was a keen observer of the day’s events. The direction shifts, he said, were coming at “15 to 20 degrees, but more than that it was about velocity-on and velocity-off. Downwind, if you were in the velocity, you could make big gains.

“It was much windier today than the forecast called for,” Ullman said, “but the racecourse is fine. The race officials are doing a good job with some challenging circumstances.

“But, it was cold out there.”

He wasn’t the only one who said so.

Wednesday was the third of six days of racing for ten Olympic classes. Top qualifiers will sail a Medal Race on Saturday. Competitors in three Paralympic classes will conclude their racing on Friday.

Men’s 470

A second win in six races settled Luke Patience and Elliot Willis of Great Britain into a six-point lead in their 44-boat fleet, and they had reason to be glad that race six went as long as it did, and ended when it did. They had boats to pass. And then it was over. Second-place skipper Mat Belcher of Australia observed that Patience and Willis had a good second weather leg, “They went heavily to the right, and that got them around a lot of boats.”

With four more races scheduled before Saturday’s Medals Race, Patience and Willis have scores of 1-2-(5)-4-3-1 to a count of 5-1-2-(12)-2-7 for Belcher and crew Will Ryan. The six-point delta allows for discarding worst scores. Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis dropped out of their leadership position (two firsts on Tuesday) and now are looking at (25)-4-1-1-8-10 for third place.

Farther down in the lists, Matthias Schmid’s Austrian crewman, Florian Reichsteaedter, like everyone out there in a 470, spent his day balancing on the wire, adjusting in and out with the puffs. “There was no system to it” he said. “Sometimes you had to be on the left. Sometimes you had to be on the right. And it was up and down, up and down all day. Eight knots. Eighteen knots.

“And it was cold out there.”

His handshake proved that.

And we may have already mentioned that. But, to be fair, it was Miami-on-the-water cold. Readers in northern climes, please hold those cards and letters.

Women’s 470

The London 2012 gold medalists Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie, aka Team Jolly, tightened their grip on the lead in the Women’s 470 with a pair of firsts, demonstrating that, yes, there must be an answer to the dilemma of a dicey racecourse. “We’re sort of getting used to the wind being up and down and shifty,” Aleh said.

She offered, “If you can’t pick the right place to be on the racecourse, try to not pick the wrong place. We didn’t always have the best start or the best first leg, but we would keep chipping away and chipping away until we could look around and say, Oh, we’re in front. We’ll take it.”

Team Jolly, sailing out of Auckland, New Zealand, has placings of 2-2-1-(7)-1-1. The London 2012 silver medalists, Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark of Great Britain, are nine points back at 6-1-(7)-1-3-5.

Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntire, also of Great Britain, are in third, another ten points back.

49er

Diego Botin and Iago Lopez’s (ESP) overnight 14 point lead was shattered by a culmination of bad results and tight performances from their rivals.

John Pink and Stuart Bithell (GBR) and Joel Turner and Iain Jensen (AUS) kept things together, remaining at the front of the pack and now share the lead on 42 points. But for Botin and Lopez, a U flag penalty, a tenth and an 18th allowed the British and Australian teams to advance, leaving them one point behind.

Last to arrive back on-shore, last to take their sails down and last out of the boat park, Botin and Lopez looked deflated on the slipway. After their bright start they received a thorough debrief from their coach upon conclusion of the third day. All is not lost. They remain in contention; teachings will be applied and tomorrow is another day.

For Turner and Jensen, their short term partnership, is a one off for Miami with Jensen’s usual helm Nathan Outteridge missing out for personal reasons.

“It’s the first time I’ve sailed the 49er without Nathan for a long time,” said Jensen. “Joel’s doing great and he’s picking some clever shifts out there and we’re doing a lot better than we expected considering we only had three days in the boat together before this.”

Routine, rhythm and reliability are three buzz words for Outteridge and Jensen. The pair sailed together as teenagers, winning the ISAF Youth Worlds, and a partnership in the 49er was inevitable.

Seven years after forming, three 49er world titles and an Olympic gold medal later, Miami is the first time Jensen has been without his formidable helm in the Men’s Skiff, “If you sail with someone for years, like I have with Nathan, you get stuck in your routine. It’s always the same but if you sail with someone else it forces you to problem solve differently and that’s beneficial for when you go back with the other person.

“The roles are still the same with Joel as with Nathan. There are subtleties with the way he [Turner] sails and the way Nathan steers and approaches things. Neither is right or wrong, it’s just the individual style.”

Whilst the partnership is flourishing in Miami, when teased with the question – reckon you’ll stick with Turner? – Jensen replied, “Joel’s doing an awesome job and I think he’ll be a force in the 49er for years to come, he’s 19-years-old and got a bright future but in the next couple of years I might just stick with what I know.”

Outteridge will be flying in on Thursday, ensuring his crew sticks to what he knows and to enjoy the Miami racing from the coach boat.

49erFX

When those around you all discard 41 points from a DNF or a DNC, the odds will always be stacked in your favour. That’s the case for Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) who have opened up a 25 point lead in the 49erFX.

The Kiwis were just one of eight teams to complete the single race on the first day and they are reaping the rewards. Their discard is a 21 and they hold a comfortable advantage after nine races.

Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) are second overall on 62 points whilst Nina Keijzer and Claire Blom (NED) sit third on 90 points.

Maloney and Meech certainly won’t be resting on their laurels with six fleet races and Saturday’s Medal Race ahead of them but things are certainly going their way.

Women’s RS:X

Two wins and a second is a perfect day for some but not for 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Final gold medallist Bryony Shaw (GBR).

On the face of it, the Briton dominated the day but in her words, “It’s strange, it didn’t feel like a perfect day out there. I made a lot of mistakes actually. It was really shifty and puffy and I think it was my awareness, especially on the downwinds that really pulled me through.

“I made a couple of silly calls by going a bit too extreme at the start so I had to make some pretty big comebacks today.”

Shaw, the defending champion, is firmly in control. She is 17 points clear of the second placed Olga Maslivets (RUS) and is carrying a superb 2014 conclusion forward into the New Year, “I feel like this [leading in Miami] is momentum from winning in Abu Dhabi at the end of last year and the event we had in Rio. It’s nice to come out here and put on a good show.

“I really feel like 2015 is my year and it’s important for performance. I want to try and be selected for the games and win a medal in Rio, so I need to be performing at that level now.”

Men’s RS:X

Consistency was at a premium for the first day of gold fleet racing in what was an up and down day for all.

Only the second placed Nick Dempsey (GBR) put together a trio of top ten finishes, 8-8-3, whilst those around him finished out of the top ten at least once.

It’s still France atop of the leader board, but with a new face lighting the path ahead. Overnight leader Louis Giard (FRA) has dropped to fourth whilst Thomas Goyard (FRA) claimed a 12-4-2 which is enough for a slender one point lead over Dempsey.

Dorian Van Rijsselberge (NED) took out the first bullet of the day and is third overall. The remaining victories went the way of Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) who is in seventh and the 14th placed Mattia Camboni (ITA).

Laser

If others demonstrated that it is possible to win two race back-to-back on a wacky race course, five-time Olympic medalist Robert Scheidt of Brazil demonstrated that the best can stumble. He won his first race of the day, then burned his throw-out race on a 27th.

Scheidt’s closest competition, Australian Matthew Wearn, went with him and burned his throw-out on a 20th.

Neither of the two leaders can afford another bad race. Scheidt has a seven-point cushion over Wearn, but Germany’s Philipp Buhl is only one point behind Wearn, and only four points separate him from Julio Alsogaray of Argentina and Nick Thompson of Great Britain.

At 106 boats in two divisions, the Laser is by far the largest class here and as hard as any when it comes to getting to the top. A few years ago, American Jensen Mctigh was acing it in the Snipe class. Here he’s paying his dues (“I’m probably the youngest person here”) with three-digit standings, but he’s seeing the racecourse as clearly as anyone. McTigh’s take from his end of the Laser fleet, “The shifts were bigger yesterday, but those blew evenly across the course. Today the shifts were smaller, but they never stopped. They never stopped.”

Laser Radial

Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindom took two bullets today.

And, frankly, that ought to be enough said. Difficult. Shifty, Tricky. Challenging. Those are the sort of words used throughout ten Olympic and three Paralympic fleets to describe race day three and — Did we mention, Anne-Marie Rindom took two bullets today. She was 13th at the 2012 Olympics. She was seventh at the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championship in Santander. Maybe something made her mad.

Allowing for a throw-out race apiece, Rindom is now in first with a four-point lead over Annalise Murphy of Ireland and a 12-point lead over the Santander winner from the Netherlands, Marit Bouwmeester.

Bouwmeester was the Radial silver medalist at the 2012 Olympics.

Murphy, known for liking a big breeze, took advantage of a big-breeze day at the Worlds in Santander to qualify Ireland for the Laser Radial class in the Rio de Janeiro Olympiad of 2016.

And Miami? It’s a long week.

Finn

It was Ioannis Mitakis day in the Finn fleet on Biscayne Bay today.

Mitakis, who represented Greece in the 2012 Olympic Games and won the European Finn Championship the same year—leading the Medal Race start to finish—today took back-to-back firsts. Fleet leader Giles Scott of Great Britain faded.

Faded, but not far enough to cost Scott the lead that he hopes will keep an 18-month winning streak intact.

With a worst score of sixth to discard, Scott now has finishes of 1-1-1-5-4-(6). Computing throw-out races, he has a five-point lead over Jake Lilley of Australia and a 12-point lead over Mitakis. Anything can happen, but Lilley is carrying a 22nd as his discard. Another bad race would probably sink him below the podium. It’s game faces all around.

Nacra 17

It’s a high scoring affair in the Nacra 17 with consistency a rarity in a highly competitive fleet.

Defending Miami champions Vittorio Bissaro and Silvia Sicouri (ITA) and Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves (GBR) share the lead on 50 points. The teams recorded two scores outside the top ten with one top ten finish.

Anything can happen in the 49-boat fleet and early front runners Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders (NZL) fell victim to a 29-14-28 day that sees them drop to seventh. Not helped by a late night disqualification after a jury hearing the pair count all three scores and are 36 points off the top. But as shown, anything can happen.

Paralympic Events

There’s a tussle at the top in the 2.4mR between Megan Pascoe (GBR), Helena Lucas (GBR) and Bjornar Erikstad (NOR) with one point of separation. An intriguing two days is ahead with four more races to decide the winner.

Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch (AUS) are on track to make it two ISAF Sailing World Cup Regatta wins in a row with a two point lead over Marco Gualandris and Marta Zanetti (ITA) in the SKUD18. Defending champions Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (GBR) complete the podium after six races.

In the Sonar, Alphonsus Doerr, Brad Kendell and Hugh Freund (USA) and John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas (GBR) are tied atop on 11 points.

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