French Men and Spanish Women Stamp the Day - Burling Tuke Extend
Frenchmen Julien D’Ortoli and Noe Delpech scored a 3, 1, 1, to win the day and in the process moved all the way up to fourth place overall. Showing their best form since mid-2013, the were able to bring one of their best performances to the biggest stage and will now be in position to fight for a medal over the final fleet races and the medal race. Julien and Noe are some of the longest campaigning sailors in the fleet, yet this is their first games. While they have plenty of racing experience, we won’t yet know if their lack of Olympic experience will be a hindrance or an advantage as the regatta moves to it’s final stages.
Even considering the Frenchmen’s amazing day, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) scored only a single point more with a 1, 3, 2 for only six points on the day, extending their eight point lead to 18 points. Nobody in the sailing world will be shocked to see the Kiwis atop the leaderboard, but there is still a sense of amazement at their ability to excel in every condition and on every stage. While there is still plenty of races left for them to be knocked off, a sense of inevitability must be creeping into the fleet.
The overall leaderboard is almost a repeat of the 2015 Test Event, with the Kiwi’s on top with the Germans and the Australians. Currently Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel (GER) maintain their second place standing, but Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) are in third place, trading places from one year ago so far. Both teams scored a 4th, and 5th, today, with the Germans also putting in their drop race while the Aussie also scored an eighth.
The last of the big positive movers on the day were the Lange brothers of Argentina. Possibly inspired by their 57 year old father who leads the Nacra 17 fleet heading into tomorrows medal race, the Lange brothers scored an 8, 2, 2 for the third best performance on the day and sit in fifth position.
The regatta still has many contenders, but the favorites are starting to pull away a bit setting up a climax of champions. The top four places after 9 races in the 49erFX are only nice points apart, and each of those four team has won a major championship this quadrennial.
Out in front are the 2015 49erFX World Champions, Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos (ESP). Tamara was a surprise Gold medalist in London 2012 in the match racing, but will be surprising nobody here if she pulls off another gold for Spain. Slow starters over the first two years of campaigning the 49erFX, they have really surged in the past 2 years and have really rounded out their game. Initially their strongest condition was the high wind side of the sport, with both women powerfully built and great athletes. Today however, in the lighter conditions the 49erFX raced in, they won the day with a 4, 1, 1, to move into the lead.
It was only an average day for Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) who sit four points back of the Spanish in second overall. They had a 12th place today, their worst finish of the regatta to date but otherwise have been a model of consistency with all other races in the top 6. After starting out the quadrennial out in front, the Kiwis have had to battle hard to stay up with the top pack of 49erFX sailor as more and more contenders emerged. It’s never easy to stay on top, and these 2013 World Champions will know that from personal experience after the past four years with plenty of ups and downs. They are now in position to medal with another four good races, and could get on a hot streak to grab the lead.
Local hero’s Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) had a solid day to now sit in third place only 6 points back of the lead. They are some of the scrappiest sailors in the fleet, and with the conditions changing each day it would seem to suit their competitive style, and general sailing skills. The 49erFX will be the final medal race of the Olympics, and they would like nothing more than to grab a medal on home waters in front of what would be a massive home crowd that would turn out to watch from Flamengo beach. These 2014 World Champions have been contenders for almost every title in the past three years, so will be used to the pressure of being in the mix at the end of a regatta.
The final team within 10 points of the lead is the Danish Duo of Jena Hansen and Katja Iversen, the 2016 European Champions who are currently on a hot streak. They won the Danish trials in early February having to beat out a European Champion team mate and a World Champion Silver medal team, so are truly battle tested. The day wasn’t their best, only scoring one result they will be happy with but this battle hardened team should be able to fight off the pressures of dropping from the lead into fourth position.
Another five 49erFX teams sit in just 10-25 points further back, and will all be pulling out their best sailing to try and move into medal contention tomorrow. The final three fleet races are scheduled for 1300 local time and then the top 10 will make the medal race scheduled for August 18th.
As the 49er teams were on their way in from the race course a 40 knot squall rolled through the bay, causing havoc to the returning teams. Five teams have put in requests to use new jibs going foward, having lot their jibs overboard since the sails were already taken down for the tow in when the squall it. It could be a long night in the repair tent to get all the boats back to the start line tomorrow.
The 49er fleet was not the only fleet impacted by the squall. The radial fleet was trying to get in their medal race after waiting all day without wind, before the conditions went from 0-40 in a three minute period. Being close to score they all made it back in one piece. The same can’t be said for the 470 fleet, who were out to sea and it’s reported that a number of their jibs have been reduced to hankerchiefs as a result of the strong wind. Check out this album of the carnage.
Grab all the links, photos, etc to keep up with the regatta at: http://49er.org/event/2016-olympic-games/