Tunnicliffe and Bouwmeester tied at the top
Olympic gold medallist Anna Tunnicliffe proved she has lost nothing from her speed and guile for her break this season from the Laser Radial class as she returned to a first and second place from the first two races of the Laser Radial World Championships which opened today on the Clyde estuary off Largs in Scotland.
Across a testing pair of races that were split by the passage of a weather front which swung the breeze from south to west to produce a fitting introduction to the Clyde’s testing winds and waters, Tunnicliffe shared best points from the day in the Blue fleet with Holland’s Marit Bouwmeester, world number two, who mirrored the American’s tally with a second and a first.
Tunnicliffe commented: “The first race I did not have a stellar start but I got in there fairly quickly and I hiked really hard and my goal was to be in the top ten at the top mark and I rounded third or fourth or something and hiked hard and played smart from there and went on to win that one. I was not so far ahead Marit was right on my heels throughout and in the second race I had a good start and got going well. I missed the last little shift at the top and then put myself in third and then got yellow flagged downwind which was a bummer, but then on the second upwind I passed a boat to finish second. I am happy overall with my day having not been in the boat, I am just having fun out there and had a great day today.”
“It was hard," added Bouwmeester. "My start was not that great in the first race and I thought the left would pay and it did, and then on the downwind I managed the pressure well. I think the others made a mistake on the second downwind as the front started to come through. But Anna was sailing really quick. It is fun is racing against her. We trained together before she took to the match racing, I really respect her.
"I think we both had a good start in the second race and could cross the fleet and that was pretty much it. The pressure dropped and that was to our advantage and we got away a bit. You don’t want to have high scores on the first day so I am pretty happy with my day.”
In the Yellow fleet it was Belarus’ 2007 world champion Tatiana Drosdovskaya who led from the first windward mark to be followed across the finish line of the first race by China’s Olympic bronze winner Lijia (Lucy) Xu, with Paige Railey, the 2005 world champion taking third. Railey then went on to win the second race to lie third overall after the first day. The Chinese sailor Xu, the 2005 class world champion, is recovering from a health problem and did not sail the second race.
“They were hard races it was really windy," said Railey. "It was shifty as well and so you could not just hike your brains out. You needed to be constantly thinking all the time. The first race off the island it came in with a massive leftie (left side wind shift) but I was trying to be a bit more conservative today. I did not do anything risky at all today I just tried to play the shifts and stay conservative. It is great venue I have really loved it. It was a bit wet this morning but everyone is so amazingly friendly, we have had so much fun. It has been great. The second race I had a conservative start and sailed safe upwind, because it is so early in the series.”
While the forecast was for winds to be slightly more moderate than recent days, with the breeze just east of south in the first race, in fact it proved a blustery and damp curtain raiser to what many think may prove to be a high scoring regatta. The committee boat on the women’s fleet recorded 26 knots of breeze during the first race which most women reported was a test of hiking strength and smart sailing.
The second contest was raced in a diminishing westerly breeze. The second downwind in particular just edged into really difficult territory with big swings in wind direction and considerable differences in wind pressure. The race committees on the water must have heaved a collective sigh of relief to get racing concluded before it became too fluky.
For the host nation’s Skandia Team GBR, Ali Young proved the most regular with a sixth and ninth to lie 11th overall, while Scot Charlotte Dobson, currently third in the ISAF rankings, was less happy with her 21st in the first race but fought hard to score a seventh in the second heat to lie 23rd overall.
“It was about getting the shifts right in the first race," said Young. "We had some good training here with the wind coming over the island and that was similar and so we were pretty confident. The second race it was pretty breezy and then dropped. I was fourth at the windward mark in the second race but just did not change gears quick enough. It was an alright first day, no disasters.”
As ever consistency across the two races was far from easy. The consoling factor for those who perhaps did not make the best possible start to the championship which most of the 119 women from 35 countries and 104 men from 30 nations was that proper sunshine welcomed the fleets back to shore at the Scottish Sailing Institute at Largs Sailing Club, a pleasing contrast to a bleak morning where Scotland’s soft but gentle rain was all too evident.
Top 50 results after two races:
|10||Elias Calles Wolf Tania||MEX||4||10||14|
|12||Van Acker Evi||BEL||6||11||17|
|20||de Kerangat Mathilde||FRA||18||7||25|
|32||Romero Steensma Susana||ESP||7||26||33|