Fantela Brothers Find Escape Velocity in the Light

For athletes looking to burst out of the blocks and vigorously shake off any holiday rust at the 2018 World Cup Series Miami, USA, the opening day was a struggle. The wind played hide and seek for all of the morning—tempting at least one race officer into starting a race that would eventually be abandoned—before filling in the afternoon and allowing six of the 10 fleets to get in at least one race.

Miami is welcoming 543 sailors from 50 nations and when the wind did fill in, it remained light and fickle, and the challenge on Biscayne Bay was more mental than physical. But the mantra was still the same for any first day of a big regatta: minimize risk and avoid the big mistakes.

After only two races it is the Fantela Brothers, Sime and Mihovil (CRO), who hold a narrow lead over Spaniards Diego Botin and Iago Marra. In the second race, the croatians lined up mid fleet at the start, held their lane, and saw the rest of the fleet gradually fall behind them as they proceeded to the left corner, and ultimately the whole way up the beat with a clear lead.

Sime Fantela, who races the 49er with his brother Mihovil said, “We came fifth in the first race, but first in the second, so we are pleased.”

The Fantela brothers are veterans of the Olympic sailing circuit. Mihovil spent two Olympic cycles campaigning in the RS:X Windsurfer while Sime competed in three Olympic Games in the Men’s 470, finishing fourth in London 2012 and earning a gold medal at Rio 2016. They started competing in the 49er class last summer and are quickly climbing the skiff’s significant learning curve.

While Biscayne Bay didn’t show its best face today, the brothers are happy to be in Miami for at least two reasons.

“Miami is great, it’s enjoyable to sail here,” said Sime. “[The competition] is quite tough. All the best are here, and I think the rest of week will be challenging.”

After only one year in the 49er, the fact that the Fantela’s already have world class performance in the light air is sure to be troubling to remainder of the 49er contenders to London. 470 sailors typically do pick up the light air sailing quickly when they move into the 49er, but Sime was a legend in the breeze in the 470, and it’s likely their performance in heavier winds will follow the light, in time.

Interestingly, it was another 470 convert who won the first race of the day, as Stu Bithell with helm Dylan Fletcher (GBR) took the first race but had a mid fleet finish in the 2nd after going the wrong way up the first beat.

The 49erFX fleet also squeezed in two races despite the wind challenges faced today. Victoria Travascio and Maria Branz (ARG) hold first place overnight followed by the Norwegian twins, Ragna and Maia Agerup.

The Nacra 17 was the only class to fit three races in. There is no separation in the top three as they are all tied on five points.

Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, Thomas Zajac and his crew for the Tokyo 2020 quadrennial, Barbara Matz (AUT) sit on top after discarding their first race. Rio 2016 silver medalists Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (AUS) are second and Italians, Lorenzo Bressani and Cecilia Zorzi are third.

The Race Committee will look to catch up on races missed on Wednesday, in a bid to get back on schedule. Competition is due to commence at 11:00 local time.

By Stuart Streuli & Aadil Seedat – World Sailing & Ben Remocker – Class Manager