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Brazil’s Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze got off to a perfect start in the 49erFX as racing commenced at the first regatta of the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series in Enoshima, Japan.

Fresh from last week’s gold at Ready Steady Tokyo, the Olympic test event, the Brazilians could not have asked for a better day, winning both of their races in their bid to retain the title they won one year ago.

After an idyllic weekend that was blessed with clear blue skies and a stable breeze in the mid-teens, the waters of Sagami Bay were somewhat calmer on Tuesday. It took until the latter part of the afternoon for a reasonably stable 5-9 knot south westerly breeze to fill in and fleets headed out from 14:00 local time.

Five fleets completed their scheduled races with the remaining fleets one race short. These will be added to Wednesday’s schedule.

Grael and Kunze, Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallists, are targeting a second gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Hempel World Cup Series Enoshima is held on the same racing areas that will be used at Tokyo 2020 and provides a clear insight into who will claim the coveted Olympic medals in just under one year’s time.

If previous results are anything to go by, the Brazilians are on track to claim a second gold.

They won the World Cup regatta in 2018 and followed it up with gold at JSAF Enoshima Olympic Week. Their recent test event victory has heightened their status as favourites but they know not to get too complacent.

“The success of last week was pretty questionable,” commented Grael. “The other girls sailed really well and we had a tough week.”

“But it’s consistency, I would say,” expressed Kunze. “We only won one race in the test event. It changes so much here because one day there’s a sea breeze and the next it’s coming from the shore so you have to be adaptable to be successful.

“Our training partners, Alex [Maloney] and Molly [Meech] from New Zealand and the Norwegians, [Helene Næss and Marie Rønningen] are doing super the good. The British [Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey] also did great last week.

“There’s always a few teams having ups and downs so you always have to be prepared and be careful.”

The Brazilians lead on two points with Kimberly Lim and Cecilia Low (SGP) and Carla and Marta Munté Carrasco (ESP) tied on eight points.

Consistency was at a premium in the 49er. Tim Fischer and Fabian Graf (GER) were the only team to post three single digit scores and they share top spot with Dominik Buksak and Szymon Wierzbicki (POL) after three races.

Two races were completed in the highly competitive Nacra 17 fleet. Ben Saxton and Nicola Boniface won race one and backed it up with a fourth to lead. Nathan and Haylee Outteridge (AUS) were also consistent, sailing their way to a 5-3 scoreline, and occupy second. Quentin Delapierre and Manon Audinet (FRA) took the day’s other race win.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for strong breeze which may delay or even postpone racing but the schedule is for a 12:00 start.

The 49er, 49erFX, Nacra 17 and RS:X fleets will conclude racing on Saturday 31 August with their Medal Races, be available to watch here https://youtu.be/XOPsr6uWWto from 12:00 local time.

By Daniel Smith – World Sailing

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