While the New Zealanders slid down the rankings in a light wind race today, the Poles head into the Medal Race with the slimmest of advantages….
Lukas Przybytek and Pawel Kolodzinski go into Sunday’s 49er Medal Race with a 1-point lead over New Zealand’s Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn. In a double-points format, that means the Poles’ pole position is for bragging rights only. Whoever beats who will win. Well, actually, nine out of the ten teams who will contest the Medal Race still have a shot at the gold medal, even the ninth-placed reigning World Champions from Croatia, Šime and Mihovil Fantela.
It was another hot day on the Kieler Fjord, with temperatures in northern Germany touching 30 degrees. But the breeze never really materialised. The one 49er gold fleet race took place in just six or seven knots of wind after which any further attempts to complete the gold fleet series was abandoned.
At the start line, the fight for the pin end was fierce. Peter Burling and Blair Tuke had to bail out in the last few seconds, and were obliged to take a 360 degree penalty for infringing another boat. By the time they were up and running, the Olympic Champions were close to last in the 28-boat fleet, yet somehow by the windward mark they had already found some magical corridor to move them up to 9th. In the next five minutes, though, it all fell apart for the Kiwis on the first slow-motion run as they tumbled back to 22nd, from where they could only recover to 15th by the finish. This drops the usually invincible New Zealanders to fifth overall, although still only 10 points off the lead. Will and Sam Phillips of Australia sit in third overall while James Peters and Fynn Sterritt of Great Britain have climbed to fourth place, in a single-point sandwich between the Aussies and Burling/Tuke.
Winners of the race were Kévin Fischer and Yann Jauvin which lifted the French to 12th overall, but still 10 points off qualifying for the Medal Race.
There were a couple of high-profile UFD disqualifications for those teams who started too early in the 49erFX fleet, including the reigning World Champions from the Netherlands Annemieke Bekkering and Annette Duetz who scrape into the Medal Race in 10th place. Yellow jersey holders, Victoria Jurczok and Annika Lorenz also picked up a UFD but the Germans can drop that from their score and go into the Medal Race with a six-point edge over another Dutch crew, Willemijn Offermann and Elise de Ruijter, who finished second in today’s race behind Sweden’s Julia Gross and Hanna Klinga.
Spain’s Tara Pacheco and Florian Trittel won the last Gold Fleet race of the Nacra 17 fleet but it’s Austria’s Thomas Zajac and Barbara Matz who go into the Medal Race with a three-point advantage. The Austrians are steeling themselves for a four-way fight for gold with Denmark, Germany and Italy. Zajac says the key to success today was ignoring the rest of the fleet and sailing their own race. “You could go chasing wind or trying to protect against the other boats, but it was better to sail with what you had and stick to your own strategy. It was tricky in those conditions knowing whether to try to foil downwind or not. Sometimes it worked, sometimes you just sailed extra distance for no gain.” Tomorrow’s forecast is for more breeze, so foiling should be a no-brainer for the high-speed multihulls.
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