Next Generation Separated by Only 1 Point Atop 49er Fleet

The Theatre Style Final will separate two young teams who are only 1 point apart after 15 races.

The 49er Men’s Skiff is poised for an exciting showdown. The three heat, single points Theatre Series for the top 10 pairs changes the dynamic for the Finale. Peters and Sterritt lead their Spanish counterparts Diego Botin and Iago Lopez by a single point while Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell, third at 13pts behind their countrymen. The main focus will be on Peters versus Botin, but Fletcher still has a fighting chance of adding the Palma title to January’s Sailing World Cup Miami win. Fletcher and 2012 Olympic silver medallist Bithell had a 12th today but otherwise have never been out the top three during the eight other Finals races.

“We are just looking forwards to a good battle for the gold. These guys are all good competitors so it will be tough. The last race did not go our way. But we know we have what we have to win this regatta and are going to go out and do everything that we can to win the regatta.” Helm James Peters asserted.

Under the usual Olympic Medal Race format that young Brits James Peters and Fynn Sterrit go into the Medal Race with a 25 points lead over Argentina’s fourth placed Lange brothers Yago and Klaus would normally have a medal of some color was assured for the British duo. There are a theoretical 27 points on offer should one team win all 3 races and another finish 10th.

Peters is the 2012 Junior World Champion in the 49er, and was only part time sailing for a few years after that while completing university. While he and Fynn sailed well in the 2016 lead up, they were never really in contention for the games spot with Pink/Bithell consistently in the top 6 at every major event and then Fletcher grabbing a couple championship podium finishes and ultimately the Rio berth. Heading to 2020, he’ll want to become established at the front of the fleet to ensure a winning mindset come 2019 and 2020, with no better time than now to start.

Botin/Mara consistently improved themselves heading to Rio, and ultimately grabbed the Olympic berth after much infighting in the Spanish qualification system required outside intervention and multiple appeals. With a very solid for quad of racing under their belts, they’ll be looking to follow in countrymen’s Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez’s footsteps in taking over the skiff world for Spain.

In contrast to the 49er, the German FX duo Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz have dominated the FX fleet and already secured gold! They amassed a lead of 38 points leading going into their final day and are assured of gold. They wobbled with a tenth in their penultimate race but then bounced back with their seventh win from 15 starts today.

“It was pretty challenging out there.” Said crew Lorenz, “We went out so late and they had to move the whole course. The first race there were only the guys in front of us when it was really breezy. The second race we smashed up the start but the third race we won. It is comfortable to go into the final day with such a lead but it will be challenging because the forecast is for it to be windy.”

Vicky and Anika follow in their 49er countrymen’s footsteps from Palma 2013. Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel took a huge number of race wins in the equivalent regatta in 2013 and then went on to claim a gold medal in Rio. Their Sailing Team Germany team mates will be looking to take this momentum forward all the way through the quad.

Norway’s Helene Naess and Marie Ronningen are looking poised for the second place position, 18 points up on third. The duo training very hard for Rio but did not sail their best at the Norwegian trials, and were bitterly dissapointed to be beaten out by their countrywomen. They didn’t let the game get away from them, however, and trained quite a bit this winger, so far with good return. The real fight in the Theatre for the FX fleet wil be for the Bronze. Singapore’s Kimberly Lim and Cecilea Low, who lead overall after the first day, are 9 points up on fourth and 12 points up on fifth. A good first race for them could make things pretty comfortable, but if they faulter in the first one, the fight for Bronze could really come alive.

The forcast is for very strong winds for the Final, and the FX fleet was on the water until 8 pm on day 5 requiring a quick turnaround for the fleet. Those who can calm their nerves for a good nights sleep and be ready to face what nature and the fleet throws as them should be ready to pounce. 

Also guaranteed a medal, gold or silver, are Nacra 17 leaders Fernando Echávarri and Tara Pachecho.  Spain’s 2008 Beijing Tornado gold medallist seized the lead today and have now sailed a 1,1,1,2 from their last four races, leading Britain’s John Gimson and Anna Burnett by 16 points. So the Spanish duo who have been together in the class since just after the 2014 Santander Worlds are assured of at least silver, going into a conventional 10 boat one race Medal Race.

 On Robert Scheidt watch, he has sailed above expectation all week, and heading into the last race of the series was tied for 10th place with two other teams. A 19th in the final race has ruled him out of theatre racing, but a great start to the season for this legend.

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