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16-21 November 2021 / Oman

2021 World Championship

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The Path to Paris is one year shorter than normal, but like normal, Princessa Sophia (Palma regatta) kicks off the unofficial start of the action. All of the 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 Gold Medalists are returning to defend their titles, but behind them, there are quite a few new and old teams they will need to face down.

Chasing more Bling

Martine Grael with Kahena Kunze (BRA) are chasing a three-peat. Only Ben Ainslie and Paul Elvstrom have won three gold medals in a row, four in their cases, the dynamic Brazilian pair could be joining sailing royalty.

Dylan Fletcher (GBR) in the 49er has a new crew, Rhos Haws at the bow. Stuart Bithell (GBR) retired on top, having won his second Olympic medal while the ever-hungry Fletcher returns with the aim of being the first repeat 49er gold medalist.

Ruggero Tita with Caterina Banti (ITA) aims to repeat in the Nacra 17 in Paris. Ruggero will be doing double duty, with commitments to team Prada as one goal while retaining their spot at the top of the foiling world on the other.

Once you go Black

Each of the 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 have some noticeable differences in the boats. The skiffs have new masts, which have almost the same spec as the old mast so not too obvious outside of the fleet. However, the skiffs also have new sails, very similar in size to the old ones but being jet black in color marking a dramatic change to the look of the class.

With the goal of increased consistency and durability, North Sails 3Di process won a competitive bid to build the 49er and FX sails for the quadrennial. So far about 2/3 of the fleet has been supplied with the new sails so the fleets will race in any configuration of new and old sails they may wish to over the European spring season before the summer championships require the new sails.

Loyal to the Foil

The Nacra 17 fleet also undertook a small technical change. The rudder rakes for Paris are now adjustable be while racing. For Tokyo was required to be fixed in place once the start gun sounded. Teams are rigging control systems to allow movement of the rudder rakes, and crucially the elevator angle of attack, so they can move the rudders in Parallel, in scale, and even differentially while racing.

Visibly the change to the Nacra 17 is much less dramatic than in the 49er, but its impact on the racing could be substantial. All eyes will be turned into the first day of racing to see if the era of upwind foiling is upon us. The ability to adjust the rudder angle means teams don’t have to make a race-long commitment to trying to foil, dramatically reducing the risk of trying to upwind foil and has resulted in a lot of foiling practice. Whether the out-of-competition training translates to racecourse success will determine the modes teams ultimately land on, but there is a buzz developing.

Switcheroo

The entire podium of Nacra 17 teams are returning to the Olympic chase. In the cases of John Gimson with Anna Burnett (GBR), they are completely focused on the task. “In the last quad I was still with Artemis Racing, and could not focus completely on Nacra 17 sailing. This quad I’ve committed to spending the full two years completely focussed on getting the gold medal,” said John Gimson. Paul Kohloff with Alica Stuhlemmer (GER) also returns looking to move up on their bronze medal performance. In early practice the young German duo seems to have an edge in upwind foiling, having tried it the most last quad as well.

Beyond the top three, however, there is a lot of change in the Nacra 17 fleet. Tara Pacheco (ESP), who was 6th in Tokyo now teams up with Iago Marra (ESP) who was 4th in Tokyo in the 49er. Likewise, each of their partners, Diego Botin and Florian Tritell now team up together in the 49er. Similarly, Santiago Lange with Cecilia Carranza (ARG), the 2016 Gold medalists and Tokyo 7th place finishers have traded with Vicky Travascio with Sol Branz who themselves placed 5th in Tokyo. Now, the two skippers combine in the Nacra 17 with Santiago helming for Vicky, while the two crews team up with Sol moving to the helm and Cecilia crewing for her.

As usual, the Dutch FX teams continue to mix around. 2021 World and European Champion, Odile Van Aanholt, who won the 2021 championships with different crews, now teams up with Tokyo Silver medalist Annette Duetz.

Sticking with the 49erFX, 2013 49erFX Bronze medalist Sarah Steyaert (FRA) returns to the class from almost a decade in the radial to pair up with Tokyo Gold medalist, Charline Picon, who moves to the 49erFX from windsurfing.

The 49er fleet also sees a couple of medalists from other events joining the skiff scene. Tokyo Silver medalist from Sweden, Fredrick Bergstrom, begins his 49er career.

Partnerships in Olympic sailing are extreme relationships. Total commitment and dedication, learning, growing, and an excruciating magnifying glass from the outside are the daily reality for these sailors. Additionally, much of the Olympic slate has been shifted around from Tokyo to Paris necessitating some changes.

What we are seeing with so many top sailors continuing to sail, but also changing partnerships is the wonderful feeling of empowerment and ambition the Olympics can curate in a sailor, building motivation. As these sailors seek a catalyst to reach a higher level than before, perhaps a new partnership will be the key they have been so close to finding.

Palma 2022

Racing runs from April 5 to 9, 2022. Find all the results, photos, and stories on the Trofeo Princess Sofia webpage and follow along our social channels @49ersailing @nacra17sailing

Photocredit: Lloyd Images – Fletcher and Haws blast into a new quadrennial.

Oman at a Glance

Perched on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula, the Sultanate of Oman’s stark beauty and vastly contrasting landscapes have enchanted growing numbers of tourists each year.  With its magnificent desert, secret oases and  breathtaking mountain ranges, Oman is an alluring destination. A tropical underwater paradise lies beneath the turquoise sea, caressing the white sandy beaches that adorn the country’s stunning 3,165 km coastline.  

Alongside this natural wealth is Oman’s rich culture, which blends with modern infrastructure and historical features that span over 7,000 years. Grand forts, exquisite palaces and mystical souqs are sights to behold in the capital, Muscat. A visit to Oman makes you feel right at home from the time you arrive, until the moment you leave. The Sultanate is full of opportunities for adventure, including fascinating tours with an Arabian flavour.  

Oman’s coastline is a paradise for explorers. Its abundance of wildlife includes whales, dolphins, turtles, seahorses, and flamingos. Underwater, its incredible marine life is found close to the water’s surface.  

 

 

 

 

The mountains cover approximately 15% of the country’s land mass. Oman’s main mountain range is the 10,000 foot Al Hajar, which runs from Musandam in the North to the extreme limit of the Arabian Peninsula, Ras Al Had.  

 

 

 

 

Sands and deserts occupy the remaining area; these include two large sand deserts – The Wahiba Sands known as Rimalat Al Wahiba and part of the Empty Quarter (Rub Al Khali). Here you can learn about Bedouin culture, camp under a dome of stars and experience the beauty of dawn in the desert.

 

 

 

Oman is known for its tropical climate whilst still subject to seasonal changes. From October through April, the Sultanate offers a lovely climate, with an average temperature of 23 degrees C. Combined with welcoming hospitality, warm seas and stunning landscapes, you can see why tourism in Oman is a growing industry.

Oman Information Pack

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Equipment Inspection Timetable

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Nacra 17 Inspection Timetable

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Updated Travel Info

September 30

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Updated Information Pack

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Register for the 2021 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 World Championship in Oman

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