Tricky First Day for 2014 North American’s

49er sailing under blue skies

There are more 49ers racing on continental USA than at any other time in the history of this class!  With 30 49er and 30 49erFX racing in the North American champs, this year’s regatta is a huge challenge to the teams looking to take home some silverware.  Adding to the challenge were the conditions today on Biscayne Bay.  A shifty North Westerly racing from 6-14 knots through the day was anything but steady forcing teams to keep their heads up and fingers crossed.

Julien D’Ortoli and Noe Delpech started out the regatta in fantastic form winning the first race by a fair margin.  They were also sailing well in the third race but ultimately were passed by Jonas Warrer and Peter Lang from Denmark.  Julien was looking to finish out the day solidly but had a poor third race, a score he won’t want to carry with him the rest of the way.  The conditions were tricky but in the first 2 races the right side of the seemed to pay off.  Ultimately though, the day went to those where were able to pick their upwind path based on the shifts rather than the sides.  Teams on the corners would fair well for a leg or even a race, but they were often caught out as well.

The 49erFX fleet was out after the 49er fleet and still no clear pattern on the course was emerging.  The offshore winds meant teams were constantly having to balance their wind speeds, wind angles, and fleet placement in order to sail short distances to the marks without getting too far away from their competitors and risking sailing in separate winds.  On top of their game today were World Bronze medalists, Sarah Stayeart and Julie Brossard from France, and World Silver medalist, Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze from Brazil.  Sarah and Julie had a very strong day as they were consistently able to move past middling starts into podium positions.  Sarah’s background is in Laser Radial sailing and she was well prepared to grind through the conditions to put together an excellent scorecard to sit on top of the leader board tonight.

We caught up with Sarah Stayeart and GBR’s Charlotte Dobson in race 1, where they had a tremendous battle for the win over the final lap of the race.  Watch the start, the battle, and what they had to say about is here.

Ultimately, Charlotte prevailed in race 1, but was undone on the day by a poor finish in the third and final race of the day.  Staying consistent was the paramount challenge for the whole fleet.  While a huge number of boats managed top 5 roundings at marks through the day, there were very few teams able to string together 3 solid scores.  With so many teams carry letter scores or deep finishes, there will be extra pressure through the final 2 days for those looking at winning.

Tomorrow’s forecast looks much the same, proving that Miami is not only a beautiful, but tricky venue to sail in. Follow live on Twitter @Int49er as of 10:30 AM EST.