Today was the first day of gold fleet racing at the World Cup of sailing in Palma. The 49erFX fleet was sent afloat first and had to work through some unsteadiness as the wind moved left 120 degrees in the first hour. Once things stabilized, the breeze built and the fleet got in 3 races in fantastic conditions.
The trial scoring system being used meant that teams started the day with the equivalent of only 1 race scored even though this was day 4 of the regatta. Overnight leaders, Ida Marie Baa Nielson and Marie Thusgaard Olsen of Denmark, were not put off by the curtailing of their lead and won all three races. The scoreboard might read cleanly, but they needed to work hard for their wins today and the fleet was very close. The Marie´s were able to use their downwind speed and solid skiff sailing experience to move through the few people that were able to beat them upwind.
The next group of sailing enjoyed tight racing, interchanging positions though the day. That group includes boats from Great Britain, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, Brazil, and another from Denmark. The varied results are what is expected from the close racing in the 49er class and is typical with the shorter 30 minute races. Each of the group of 6 sit on points between 11-16 and will all be looking to secure a top 8 so they can be included in the Theatre Style racing that concludes the regatta on Saturday.
There are also a number of teams chasing the 8th and last spot to get into the final. The three races tomorrow will be extremely important for these teams as they all try to build up experience in ‘the theatre’ so they are well prepared for the conclusion of the European and World Championships this summer. The theatre racing is a new concept within the 49er class since the 2012 Europeans. The races are only 10 minutes long and the course area is constrained so that teams must engage actively with one another more frequently. The format option has been instrumental in securing a live TV contract for the Europeans this summer in Denmark, July 5-7, and the feed will also be made available as a livestream on the web.
Back to the gold fleet here in Palma, the story for the 49er fleet was similar to that of the 49erFX fleet. This time it was the German team of Erik Heil and Thomas Plossel who dominated the day. They credited their great speed and ability to tack on the few small shifts that were on the course. They now have a 9 point lead but in a 37 boat gold fleet, that still quite slim. Tomorrows racing should also be incredably close. Results