Weymouth tourist board day
With sailors and boats coming ashore last night beaten up after enduring 25 knot winds and 30 knot gusts, so today Weymouth Bay provided tourist brochure conditions with sunshine and a more manageable 10-15 knots for the final days of qualifying rounds before the classes separate out into gold, silver and bronze fleets tomorrow.
Competition remains tight at the top in most classes, but in a few the leaders have been gradually breaking away.
In the 49er France’s Manu Dyen and Stephane Christidis have discarded an 11th in a scoreline that otherwise has seen them never finish lower than third. They are on 11 points, six ahead of New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke with past World Champions Nathan Outteridge/Iain Jensen from Australia and Skandia Team GBR’s Stevie Morrison/Ben Rhodes a further point adrift. "It wasn't very easy to make big gains, it was tough on the start and it was generally one sided, and pretty much down to boat speed," commented Morrison of today’s racing.
Unlike many of the overseas sailors who have sailed here only once (last year’s Skandia Sail for Gold) Dyen and Christidis have been training here a few times already and on occasions with the large British squad, as Weymouth is quite different from their normal base in Marseille.
“We trained here for one week in July, but I don’t know,” Dyen told thedailysail of why they are doing so well. “We have good speed, so now it is good. We have had a very good season. We are 4th in the World, we won two World Cup events this year. We have had a really good start to the competition but it is just qualification and tomorrow the real games start with everybody so we have to keep this way and we will see.”
With this being the final event on the ISAF Sailing World Cup, the Austrians Nico Delle Karth and Nikolaus Resch have already claimed the title, but the French who are third still have a chance of finishing second. Dyen says that already this week they have experienced a range of conditions and lighter winds are forecast for the end of the week. “In Weymouth you have to be really good in every condition.”
This is a sentiment also expressed by Men’s 470 World Champions from Australia Matt Belcher and his Beijing gold medal winning crew Malcolm Page.
“I think the great thing about this venue, which suits Mal and I, is that it is everything,” said Belcher. “You have an opportunity to prove yourself each day in totally different conditions and show what you are capable of: Some days you have waves, and others you have flat water; some days you have 35 knots and other days nothing; some days current and some days none.”
Malcolm Page adds: “The best overall team will shine through. In China you had to be so specialised [for light winds] because there was a 95% chance that those were the conditions were you going to get. In China I only trapezed for one and a half races and I don’t count the centreboard case as trapezing!”
In the 470 Men the top three have broken away with France’s B-team of Pierre LeBoucher and Vincent Garos leading (Nicolas Charbonnier and Baptiste Meyer-Dieu are 18th), two points ahead of the young talented British duo of Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell who after today’s racing are tied with Belcher and Page.
“The coolest thing today was duking it out with our training partners, Sam [Kivell] and Will [Ryan] who are in the development squad in that first race today,” continued Page. “They led from start to finish and we came back at the end. The last run we almost had them then they got us back.” Kivell and Ryan lie 17th, and are sailing the boat in which Page won gold in Beijing with his old helm Nathan Wilmot.
In the 470 Women, there is little surprise with Dutch double World Champions Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout now a point ahead of yesterday’s leaders from Japan, Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata - and this was despite them being black flagged in today’s first race, which they followed up with a win in the second. In third, two points from the Japanese, are Denmark’s Henriette Koch and Lene Sommer.
Westerhof said: “Everyone is sailing really up and down and the fleet isn’t very consistent, apart from the Japanese who are having a good series. Although we haven’t been consistent, we have managed to get to the top, but it doesn’t feel like it. We have had an OCS (over the start line early) and finished 18th in a race on the first day, so we need to work on that, but the result at the minute is great.”
Among the Brits Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes hold eighth while Hannah Mills and Claire Cumming are down to 15th. “It was one of those days where we couldn’t work out what the shifts were doing or what was going on. Sometimes there was a bit of a persistent shift, sometimes it wasn’t - it was just a bit hard,” said Mills. “We thought it might pick up a bit more this afternoon but it didn’t.”
France’s Jonathan Lobert continues to lead in the Finn with the most consistent scoreline in the variety of conditions experienced so far this week. Following a protest against the race committee last night Britain’s Ben Ainslie and Ed Wright along with New Zealand’s Dan Slater were awarded average points (calculated on all their other races up to the end of today) following confusion over a change of course after a 30 degree wind shift.
Despite the moderate conditions Ben Ainslie came ashore looking knackered. “It was a really tough day physically – free pumping downwind in 14 knots just when it is toughest, but it was a good day.” He was surprised to find himself in second place overall, although he had posted two seconds today (with today’s wins going to team mate Giles Scott and the USA’s Zach Railey). While Ainslie is 5.4 points off the lead, the youngster Scott (23 and no3 in the UK Finn class) is now third overall, 6.6 points from the Olympic titan.
Ainslie continued: “The starts were key and it was a bit of a boat speed race upwind which was hard work for me because I was struggling to keep up with some of the other guys, but downwind [traditionally Ainslie’s strength] it is going well.”
As to whether much has changed in the Finn class since Beijing (this is his first regatta back in the class since 2008) Ainslie said: “Not a huge amount. The French guy is sailing really well. There are a few new younger faces coming well. Giles is doing really well. He is fast downwind but he has also got the speed upwind.”
Giles Scott spoke of his day: “It feels really good – it was just what I needed. The first two races were really similar and I kind of took a similar approach, it paid off and I won both races. I had cautious starts in the middle of the line - I found a really big gap in both and a clear lane and sent it out to the left which seemed to be favoured. It’s very important for me to do well here, more than any other regatta really.”
In the Laser, Skandia Team GBR’s Paul Goodison leads despite a less than consistent performance today winning the first race and then retiring at the end of the second after being adjudged for not taking penalty turns after an infringement. Goodison leads New Zealand’s Andrew Murdoch by six points (the Kiwis are looking particularly strong with three boats in the top 10) with the Netherland’s Marc de Haas another point adrift. However this doesn’t paint an entirely accurate picture as Australian Tom Slingsby, who has scored four bullets in six races so far, has dropped to fifth after he was black flagged in today’s second race.
Of all the classes the field remains tightest in the Laser Radial where recently crowned Dutch World Champion Marit Bouwmeester is tied on points in pole with France’s Sophie de Turckheim while another French sailor Sarah Steyaert is just one point behind. US favourite Paige Railey has dropped to seventh after she was black flagged in the final race.
There is something of a surprise Star leader in the form of Ireland’s Peter O’Leary and Frithjof Kleen, now eight points clear of Olympic veteran and former World Champion Freddie Loof and Johan Tillander, in turn two points ahead of two more ex-Finn sailors Poland’s Mateusz Kusznierewicz (and Dominik Zycki) and France’s Guillaume Florent (and Pascal Rambeau).
Yesterday’s Kiwi leaders, Hamish Pepper and Craig Monk, had a rotten day and have dropped to ninth, while Brazilian legends Robert Scheidt (and Bruno Prada) and Torben Grael (and Marcelo Ferriera) hold seventh and eighth respectively after Scheidt was black flagged in the second race. British reigning Star World Champions Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson are still in recovery mode after their rigging failure on the opening day but have pulled back to fifth having posted a satisfying 1-1-4 today.
The Women’s Match Racing has pulled into their second round robin after finishing the first today. At the end of the opening stage only Skandia Team GBR’s Lucy Macgregor and French ace Claire LeRoy came through unbeaten. In the second round robin only LeRoy remains unbeaten, Macgregor having fallen to the Dutch team led by Renee Groeneveld.
“We both ended up head to wind and I pushed it a bit far and it was race over from there,” admitted Macgregor. The Russian team led by Ekaterina Skudina, which have been on fire this season winning in Kieler Woche, at the Europeans on Lake Constance and at the WMRT event in Marstrand, may make it back into the top group via the repechage.
In the Men’s RS:X, Britain’s Nick Dempsey leads overall scoring a first and a second today, from Portugal’s Joao Rodrigues, while in the Women the powerful Spaniard Blanca Manchon leads France’s Charline Picon with Britain’s Bryony Shaw now 15 points from the lead in third.
The Skud-18 got back on the water today, after missing out yesterday when the breeze made sailing impossible. Aussies, Daniel Fitzgibbon and Rachael Cox had an outstanding day with three bullets to take a three point lead from Skandia Team GBR’s, Alexandra Rickham and Nikki Birrell. In the Sonars the Netherland’s Udo Hessels and Mischa Rossen lead the UK’s John Robertson and Hannah Stodel while in the 2.4m France’s Damien Seguin leads France-born Dutchman Thierry Schmitter by a point.
Full results here
From Ingrid Abery/www.hotcapers.com: