Some race analysis and video clips from the penultimate day of the Championships….
A great pin end start by NED 1, who rounded the top mark behind POL 888. But then a horrible kite trawl for the reigning World Champions allowed the chasing pack to close in. On the second windward leg the breeze dropped, there was a massive wind shift, DEN 7 seized the lead and cruised away to an easy win while the rest of the pack scrapped for the next places across the finish line.
After a long delay waiting for conditions to settle, Race 2 got underway. The top two teams had a shocker. BRA 4 was buried, so was NED 1 who had to do a penalty turn right off the start because of a port/starboard. Meanwhile USA 92 was leading by a country mile. Sailors looked out of sorts after such a long time waiting.
USA92 gapped the fleet to win comfortably while NOR26 put down another podium place, but even more interesting was the battle between NED 1 and BRA 4 in mid-fleet.
In the newly established breeze, NED 1 rounded in 10th and BRA 4 was only a few places behind. However on the final run, BRA 4 seemed to drop a heap of places, finishing in the high teens. That brings the overall points really close between the Dutch and Brazilians.
Port tack starts for NED 1 and BRA 4, but didn’t work out too well. Multiple lead changes at the front of the fleet between FRA, NZL, POL, USA, but NED 6 – Odile van Aanholt and Cecile Janmaat – take the lead by the top mark final time and hold on for a narrow victory.
49er Gold – Bad Day for the Yellow GERseys
Race 1 – Racing started with both NZL77 and GER 4 pretty deep. Heil/ Ploessel’s attempted port-tack start by the committee boat went badly wrong for the Yellow Jerseys from Germany. The Germans managed to establish a 5 boat gap on Burling/ Tuke but on the second work, GER 4 went left and allowed NZL 77 do sail right, gain some leverage and be right up the transom of the Germans by the end of the leg and overhaul them by the finish. Up at the front Rual/ Amoras FRA 8 held off the close attentions of NZL 7, Dunning Beck and Gunn pushing the French hard all the way around the race track.
Race 2 – Burling/ Tuke NZL 77 win their side of the start going left while Dunning Beck/ Gunn NZL 7 were looking good on the right. However it was Hawkins/ Thomas GBR 17 who led around the first mark. Bildstein/ Hussl put a hard luff on the Olympic Champions at the windward mark which looked expensive yet somehow Burling/ Tuke still game good by the bottom gate. Meanwhile GER 4, the Yellow Jerseys, were having a horror show in the mid-teens. The young Brits won the race with SUI 10 Schneiter/ Cujean in second and Bildstein/ Hussl third. Burling’s fifth place put another 10 points back on the series leaders with GER 4 crossing in 15th.
For a time it was looking like the regatta could have been over with, as the German challengers to Burling/Tuke had a nightmare start, locked out at the boat end and unable to start until 20 seconds after the gun. They were tied for last at the windward mark and quite a distance behind the pack. In a smart downwind, they banged the straight set corner to close the gap on the pack, although still tied for last at the leeward gate.
At the bottom of the beat the Germans got a small header and tacked back in an open lane. They managed to win three straight close crosses and in a flash they were up to 15th place, though centered on the course and without further leverage.
Germany consolidated on another small shift to head back left and cross the teams that overstood in the left corner, and by staying mostly on the correct shift and in a clear lane they passed 60% of the boats in a single beat to round 10th, which is how Heil/ Ploessel finished.
Burling/ Tuke similarly moved up the fleet all race, to win, but it was the comeback by Heil/Ploessel that has kept this regatta up for grabs, with a 12 point gap behind the Kiwis instead of a 25 point gap. Dickson/ Waddilove IRL 417 were second across the line with Scott/ Bithell’s 3rd place putting GBR 6 in 3rd overall at the end of the penultimate day.
Nacra 17 Gold Fleet – Tita/ Banti rediscover their mojo
The race started in quite light winds, with a cracking start at the boat end from USA 472, Brazil 10 and AUT 3. The teams that held on starboard and headed right were rewarded by an increase in wind from the left half way up the beat. The Outteridges (AUS 46) won the middle of the course with Zajac/Matz (AUT 3) coming in just below them, but it was a couple teams that came in from overstood on the far left that thrust the Brazilians into the lead.
By the last downwind Albrecht /Nicolino (BRA 10) moved well into the lead and were only challenged by Tita/Banti (ITA 26). The Italians had a turn of speed on the straight set and passed the Brazilians on pure boatspeed.
However, the Brazilians found their gybe point perfectly, and in the long reach to the finish they repassed the Italians to win the race.
Behind, the racing was fierce all the way through the back, with a clogged up finish in the pack and multiple overtakes right at the end.
Tita and Banti (ITA 26) continued their form on the day with the breeze rewarding both sides in this race. The Italians extended their lead on the downwind showing more of the form that saw them dominate 2018, a form they have not often repeated in 2019.
Pacheco and Trittel (ESP 28) had a nice gap behind them and held second place at the downwind marks, aiming for a bit of redemption from their 21st place in race 1.
As the leaders headed upwind they got themselves locked into a boatspeed battle, hardly separating more than six boat lengths for the entire beat. The Spaniards had just enough edge to pass the Italians at the top of the beat, and they extended out to take the win.
Just behind the duo were Lange/Saroli (ARG 1) who put in their second top 5 of the day to move the reigning Olympic Champions into medal contention.
The Nacra leaderboard has narrowed seven teams from seven nations within 20 points of the lead.
Of that bunch, Bissaro/Frascari (ITA 5), Zajac/Matx (AUT 3), Cenhold/Lubeck (DEN 91) and Lange/Saroli (ARG 1) each got good lanes to head to the favoured left-hand side of the beat. These teams emerged from a start where plenty of teams were trying to win the pin, with Martinez/Maslivets (ESP 99) getting stuck (again) on the pin anchor and with Tita/Banti (ITA 26) forced to bail out just before the start and gybe around to start on port.
Albrecht/Nicolino (BRA 10) started near the boat end on port, then tacked into a clear lane and ended up getting to the far left. It was an unorthodox approach that proved to work out very nicely as they Brazilians approached the weather mark in good shape.
It was the Italians, Vittorio/Bissaro, who narrowly led from the Austrians and Australians (Waterhouse/Darmanin). Six of the top nine overall rounded in the top 10 at the windward mark. It doesn’t look like anyone is going to run away with this regatta.
The Italians extended out from the leeward gate and built a sizeable lead by the next windward. As leaders of the regatta it must be satisfying to win another race and eke out a small lead atop the standings, especially after such a wobbly start to their day.