Left is Best – Analysis of Day 2 Racing at the Worlds

The pin end of the line is proving a popular place to start, with the 49er and 49erFX race tracks of day two often yielding an advantage on the left-hand side. Despite the left paying, some of the race leaders at the bottom gate were still opting for the right-hand side, only to lose out on the final upwind leg. However, it wasn’t always that way. The Auckland conditions are forcing the sailors to stay flexible in their strategy and tactics.

Race round-up of 49er Yellow Fleet, Day 2, Race 2

Andrew Mollerus and Ian McDiarmid (USA) earned themselves a great start off the pin end of the start line of their fourth qualifying race. However, they and the Italians next to them, Simone Ferrarese and Valerio Galati (ITA), were forced to wait until Jack Hawkins and Chris Thomas (GBR) tacked on to port. The Italians won the race back across to the right-hand layline and tacked around in the lead, holding on for the race win.

Race Round-up of the 49erFX fleet

49erFX Blue Race 1

The left-right split was distinct on the first beat, with half of the boats on each side, and top teams leveraged to each side. The right side won out, with Tanja Frank and Lorena Abicht (AUT) taking a great lead around the windward mark, while Vilma Bobeck and Malin Tengstrom winning the left (SWE), leaving them back in 5th. Many favourites from the left side didn’t fare quite so well with Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) and Tamara Echegoyen with Paula Barcelo (ESP) back in the pack. 

Sebesi and Dubois (FRA) were quick on the downwind, rounding just ahead of the Austrians at opposite gate marks. The French caught the better lane upwind and managed to pass Austria to lead by the top mark. The French held on as the two boats duelled downwind.

Back in the pack, a few teams with top expectations look to get through qualifying unharmed, recovering from poor first beats is a big part of putting together a good championship. Maloney/Meech took a very different approach from Echegoyen/Barcelo, with the Kiwis heading way left, the Spanish kept with the pack and headed right on the second beat. 

There was no recovery to come for any of these top sailors, as neither the Kiwis nor GBR’s Dobson and Tidey, nor the Spanish could recover much with boats finishing in 14th, 18th and 22nd respectively. Not the start they might have hoped or imagined for the start of their Worlds campaign.

These three leading teams were not alone, however, with most top teams scoring at least one poor race on day 1. 

49erFX Yellow Race 1

As with the blue fleet, it was a massive split on the first lap with the top left paying off very hard, coming out the best was POL 888 Melzacka & Loboda.

Change of course for the second windward mark and SWE 15 Gross & Klinga were hot on the Polish heels, splitting at the bottom and choosing the left turn option.

As we saw in the Oceania regatta, so often the rich get richer. POL 888 gapped the following fleet so the battle for the podium places was where it was at. Gross & Klinga managed to hold up the Brazilian gold medallists on a speed run to the finish. Not a tactical battle, but always nice when you can outspeed the reigning Olympic Champions.

49erFX Yellow Race 2

Most of the fleet went left in a building breeze but a right shift half way up favoured the two ESP boats Suarez/ van der Velden and the Munte sisters. Both Spanish boats headed right but gybed ⅓ way down the run while following back immediately gybe-set – see what happens as it looks shifty. Both Spanish boats went left hand turn at the bottom. By the top, Suarez/ van der Velden had just played the shifts and covered the next two boats for a nice lead.

49erFX Yellow Race 3

The Belgians took an early lead but failed to protect the left hand-side of the race course on lap two. Singapore seized their opportunity and snuck in ahead of Belgium at the final top mark. It was a tight race all the way to the finish, but Singapore hung on for the win ahead of Belgium

49erFX Yellow Race 4

Schutt and Nielsby were leading at the bottom of the first lap, but let the Dutch and French break out to the left-hand side of the course on the second upwind leg. The breakaway worked out nicely for Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz, the Dutch extending away to take the race win ahead of France’s Bossard and Compan, while the Danish had to settle for third. Olympic Champions Grael and Kunze were fifth in this race.