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Hyeres, France

2022 Semaine Olympic Francais

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • A perfect ‘Bay Day’ with 8 to 14 knots of sea breeze in sunny St Margaret’s Bay
  • Port tack start is the high point of a sensational day for Lambriex & van der Werken in the 49er
  • Lambriex’s girlfriend, Odile van Aanholt, continues to lead the 49erFX fleet with crew Annette Duetz
  • A perfect six bullets for Tita & Banti so far in the Nacra 17

49er:

Bart Lambriex & Floris van der Werken (NED) launched into the lead with a sensational scoreline of 2,1,1 on their side of the qualifying draw in today’s three 49er heats. All the Dutch starts were good, but particularly in race 3 when the reigning World Champions risked a port tack start and fired across the front of the blue fleet into the lead.

“Our starts were good which made it very easy for us,” said van der Werken. “Free lanes were very important today and you needed a good start to be able to get a good lane. Bart and I are working on making sure we’re synced with our time and distance judgement and today we were on the same page.”

Almost as good in the other qualifying group, the yellow fleet, were the 2018 World Champions from Croatia, Sime and Miho Fantela. Again, the starts were the key moment to get right, according to Sime. “The committee boat was a bit favoured and we managed to pull out three good starts and keep a clear lane all the way out to the left hand side of the course.”

Keeping your eyes out of the boat was also key, both for spotting changes in the tide and current flows across the course, as well as the presence of speed-sapping weed patches. “There were some areas where you could see two waters fighting each other,” said Sime. “So it was trying to work out what the current was doing there, as well as sailing to avoid the weed. When the boat speed feels a bit off, you can never quite tell if there’s a real speed problem or if it’s a strand of weed on the daggerboard.”

The Fantela brothers’ scores of 2,1,5 in yellow group place them second overall, just two points behind the Dutch leaders as the 65 men’s teams head into the final day of qualifying before the gold/silver fleet split at the end of Friday.

Fantela Broathers (CRO) out in front

For others in the fleet, the Worlds is an opportunity to reconnect with the 49er after a few years out. The Brazilian team of Dante Bianchi and Thomas Low-Beer have reunited in the boat for a bit of a holiday, with Bianchi taking time away from his duties as a doctor in Brazil while Low-Beer is working for a tech company in New York. “We’re enjoying being back in the boat again,” said Low-Beer, “and when the Worlds were in Nova Scotia, Canada, we thought, why not!”

With the PanAm Games due to take place in Chile, the brothers Benjamin & Exequiel Grez have teamed up again as the sole Chilean representatives in the 49er fleet. “We dropped out of Olympic campaigning for a few years when the politics in Chile went bad, but it’s good to be back,” said Benjamin who campaigned in the lead-up to Rio 2016. “It’s always an honour to represent Chile outside the country,” added Exequiel. “We don’t have a huge budget, no coaches or anything like that, so we have to do everything ourselves.”

That self-reliance was put fully to the test on day one in the windy race, as Benjamin explained. “On the bearaway our rudder snapped, which is when we realised just how windy it was getting. We had to lower the mainsail and make our own way back to the beach with the jib and what was left of the rudder, and we managed it. Today with a new rudder we sailed pretty well, the speed was coming back and we’re having a good time here,” said Benjamin.

With the 49ers behind schedule on the races, the plan is for four back-to-back races on Friday.

Seabreeze grind in FX Fleet

Lilac blooming

49er FX – “It’s one of those days you’re full on, all day,” said veteran British FX crew Saskia Tidey, standing on her toes, shaking a bit with goosebumps on her arms, mimicking the flat-out trapezing technique needed in today’s solid 15 to 18-knot sea breeze on St. Margaret’s Bay.

Even though Tidey and her driver Freya Black moved well up the leaderboard into 8th by winning race four, it seemed like a ton of effort after three races to have the top three in the 49er FX remain virtually unchanged.

The fleet wasn’t giving an inch and van Aanholt/Duetz of the Netherlands weren’t flinching, either, with a 3, 2, 5, the last score being their throwout, to stay five points ahead of Bobeck/Netzler of Sweden.

New Zealand’s Aleh/Meech and Maloney/Hobbs joined the British in their climb into the top ten and are lying in fifth and sixth, respectively.

“We didn’t have the best start and tacked to port and went right which we thought was the right decision anyway,” said Black about their win. “We came out in front and tried our best to stay ahead.”

Black rose from the 29er and 470 classes. Clark called her after her former skipper Charlotte Dobson retired. That team were sixth at the Tokyo Games and were silver medalists at the 2020 worlds.

Canadian FX crew Mariah Millen sits in 17th with Ali Ten Hove but is not satisfied with today’s performance. “We weren’t really able to go where we wanted to go,” said Millen who was eighth at the European Championship last month. “The sea breeze wasn’t very forgiving, but the best practice is doing it with the top teams in the world so we just keep pushing forward.”

Tita and Banti score straight six

Tita and Banti (ITA) looking every part the champions they are.

After Ruggero Tita & Caterina Banti (ITA) scored three more bullets in the Nacra 17 fleet today, their rivals continue to scratch their heads about how to close the performance gap. Sinem Kurtbay (FIN) thought she and her crew Akseli Keskinen had sailed a pretty bad day so was pleasantly surprised to find out she had emerged from the three races in third place overall. “It didn’t feel like that,” said Kurtbay. “When we came off the start line in the second row of the first race, the Italians were back with us. The difference is that we couldn’t find a way through to the front. They [Tita & Banti] are so fast it didn’t matter even when they had a slow start.”

Six wins from six races is unheard of in Olympic class competition, yet that is the standard being set by Tita & Banti a year after winning Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020. The Italian team have embraced the new era of full foiling and the young crew Gianluigi Ugolini and Maria Giubilei (ITA) were easily the second best team of the day with scores of 4,2,2 lifting them to second overall and nine points ahead of the Finnish crew. 

Last year at the Worlds in Oman, Ugolini & Giubilei finished runner-up to John Gimson & Anna Burnet (GBR) who won back-to-back world titles in 2020 and 2021 as well as Olympic silver in Tokyo. The British crew had an ever-improving day of 6,5,3 to lift them to fifth overall behind the Rio 2016 silver medallists from Australia, Jason Waterhouse & Lisa Darmanin in fourth overall. Behind the front two Italian teams, all the points are very close.

Racing at the World Championship runs from August 31 – September 5, 2022 and is best accessed via the website: https://49er.org/event/2022-world-championship/

Daily tracking, results, photos, highlights, and articles will be available from the website. Additionally, Days 3 through 6 (Sept 2-5) will have live broadcast coverage via the CBC Sports App, youtube.com/49ersailing and fb.com/49ersailing. 

Here are the daily links:

2022 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships, Halifax — Qualifying — Day 3
September 2, 2022 @ 11:00 UTC-3
https://youtu.be/Fh4zFApLpc0 (49er) or https://youtu.be/GqLQIVgIIEY (Nacra17)

2022 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships, Halifax — Gold Fleets — Day 4
September 3, 2022 @ 11:00 UTC-3
https://youtu.be/PoHeOF0XvI0 (49er) or https://youtu.be/aW78tdhUqfk (Nacra17)

2022 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships, Halifax — Gold Fleets — Day 5
September 4, 2022 @ 11:00 UTC-3
https://youtu.be/T598V4SwIhQ (49er) or https://youtu.be/Hbvr4L0tRsE (Nacra17)

2022 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships, Halifax — Gold Fleets — Day 6
September 5, 2022 @ 10:00 UTC-3
https://youtu.be/PolhasjOgU4 (49er) or https://youtu.be/Z4-zTS-B3lE (Nacra17)

2022 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships, Halifax — Medal Races — Day 6
September 5, 2022 @ 14:00 UTC-3
https://youtu.be/pjJxn2cKZ3E (49er) or https://youtu.be/OVPNdM3XJN8 (Nacra17)