Opportunistic Local Heros Seize Lead on Home Waters
Day three in Rio was a make up day for 49erFX having only 4 races from a scheduled 6 after the first two days. The 49er sailors took the day off while the 49erFX spent a few hours in the athletes lounge waiting for the wind to come in.
By mid afternoon the sea breeze came in to ten knots providing a great platform for the 49erFX on the Sugarloaf course. The South American teams continued to do well with the Brazilians claiming 3rd on the basis of a strong second lap and the Argentinians in 5th for another solid score. Out in front were the Swedish who had an OK start but missed the last shift from the right rounding the top mark in 8th. They had a blazing downwind, gybing early into good lane, then catching some good shifts on the final upwind to pull into a commanding lead. Holding the overall lead were the ever solid Italians with a fourth place finish.
The race started with crews one and a half trapezing and quite downspeed, but the breeze quickly built to a solid double trapezing condition. Almost all teams held way on startboard who could with the left again proving tempting in the same way it did on day 2. This was especially true on the downwinds where almost all teams straight set and just played the left corner gybing game.
In the second race the boat end was favored with all the teams stacked up. Once again the Argentinians claimed and held a good lane finding themselves in second round the leeward marks to the Swedes, who had blazing speed on the day. However, with the Swedes a handful of boatlengths ahead they were on their way to the finish when the second place Brazilians gybed to round the leeward gates one more time. The RC changed the course to a three lap race from a two lap race catching out half the leading boats.
The Swedes recovered by sailing a long two sail reach to get around the leeward marks tied for second with the Italian. Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) having pounced on the downwind opportunity never looked back and pulled out a ten boatlength lead for the win in front of a few spectators sprinkled along the beach. The win puts the local heros and 2014 World Sailors of the Year into first overall at the half way point of the regata.
The Italians pulled through for second with the Swedes falling to third, still a very solid day that moves them up the rankings into fourth overall. Rounding out the podium positions are the Argentinians who had a 6th in the second race and remain in the hunt.
Day 4 is forecast to be light winds with three races scheduled for both the 49er and 49erFX.