Lightweight Germans ride the wave to the top of FX leaderboard

Bigger breeze and two-metre Atlantic swell delivered some challenging conditions for day 3 of the 49er and 49er FX European Championships in Porto. Boats were leaping off waves with clear daylight showing between hull and water. Avoiding the dreaded pitchpole was one of the big goals on the downwind legs.

These were not the conditions that Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz had been looking forward to. The lightweight German crew had revelled in the lighter breezes of the previous day, and Jurczok was hoping those conditions might have continued a little longer into the week. But maybe after today’s performance she will revise her view of big breeze, big wave competition. Two 2nd places launch them into the overall lead of the 39-boat FX fleet.

Annemiek Bekkering was grinning after coming ashore today, partly out of relief at having survived a big day and escaped without a capsize. “It was a hard day, but fun too,” said the Dutch sailor who with crew Annette Duetz sits in 2nd overall, 3 points behind the lead. “Quite relieved to have come through the day.” Maiken and Anne-Julie Schütt hold on to 3rd place, helped by a victory in race 8. Their Danish team mates have closed the gap, with Jena Hansen and Katja Iversen in 4th, the reigning European Champions Ida-Marie Nielsen and Marie Olsen in 5th.

Today was the end of FX qualifying, and some big names sit on or around the 25-place cut-off. Winners of the Dutch Olympic trials, Nina Keijzer and Claire Blom, sit in 25th overall, and 2012 match racing Olympic Champion Tamara Echegoyen and 470 world champion Berta Betanzos are just outside the cut in 27th overall. With a flurry of protests this evening, some of these places could yet change the fortunes of some crews – for better or worse.

08/07/15 - Porto (POR) - 49er Europeans Porto 2015 - Day 3 - © Ricardo Pinto
08/07/15 – Porto (POR) – 49er Europeans Porto 2015 – Day 3 – © Ricardo Pinto

The men’s 49er racing started a day later, so it’s the end of day 2 of qualifying. Extending their overall lead are Portugal’s Jorge Lima and José Costa who racked up solid scores of 7,2,2 in their qualifying fleet. They have moved to 3 points in front of the Poles, Lukasz Przybytek and Pawel Kolodzinski, who now have the 2012 Olympic Champions breathing down their necks. A video on the 49er Facebook page shows Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen leaping off a wave just before they round the windward mark. These are the kind of conditions the Aussies love, although best scores of the day go to the boat just behind them, the 2008 Olympic Champions from Denmark. Jonas Warrer and Anders Thomsen scored 2,1,2, placing the Danes within striking distance of the podium.

08/07/15 - Porto (POR) - 49er Europeans Porto 2015 - Day 3 - © Ricardo Pinto
08/07/15 – Porto (POR) – 49er Europeans Porto 2015 – Day 3 – © Ricardo Pinto

Thursday sees the FX fleet begin their Gold fleet finals, and it’s the end of qualifying for the 49er men. With a forecast of softer breeze, it will be a different challenge from today’s brutal contest.