Trying opening day
The opening day of Skandia Sail for Gold regatta proved a challenging one for race officials out on Weymouth Bay, as they tried to set fair race course in the light and shifty conditions. The Match Racing got started on time, others were not so lucky with the Laser Radials waiting ashore until 17:00 before being sent afloat. But while the Women’s Match Racing might have got started on time, their racing was still going when almost everything else was done.
The usual names found their way to the top of the round robin. Unbeaten are the teams of Claire Leroy (FRA), Anne-claire Le Berre (FRA), Silja Lehtinen (FIN) who are all on 3-0, while home favourite Lucy Macgregor (GBR) and the USA's Anna Tunnicliffe are on 4-0.
The RS:X fleet got going at a reasonable hour, and managed a couple of races for both the men's and women's fleet. Reigning world champion, Blanca Manchon from Spain scored two bullets and leads overall from France’s Charline Picon, who is hot on her heels with a first and second. In the RS:X Men it was also the reigning World Champion who's ahead in Poland’s Piotr Myszka with two wins, but with a slightly bigger advantage, this time over his countryman Lukasz Grodzicki, who posted a first and third. Britain’s Nick Dempsey won the second race to pull himself into third overall.
Dempsey commented: “You never quite know what to expect do you? It’s been a couple of months since my last regatta and this is one of my important ones this year so I really want to do well here this week. Today was a really, really good start and I’m very happy. The wind in the harbour always seems to be a bit better than the wind out in the bay and luckily we’re racing in the harbour this week so we’re quite fortunate with the conditions. Today was always going to be a really important day because it might be our only light wind day so it’s really important to get a good solid start and there are going to be a few people with some big scores today that are going to be in contention at the end of the week. We had 7-9 knots which is full body breaking conditions – I broke myself, put it all in and it paid off.”
All three Paralympic classes were sailing early in the harbour – the wind was a lot stronger near the shore in the morning - and completed two races in all the fleets. In the Sonar it was Australia’s Colin Harrison and Russell Boaden tied with the US’s Rick Doerr and Brad Kendell, both teams with a first and a second. In the SKUDs it was Beijing silver medallists Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch leading from their Aussie compatriots Jamie Dunross and Rachael Cox – the former benefitting from a three point margin. While in the 2.4mR’s it is Damien Seguin of France leading from the Netherland’s Thierry Schmitter and his countryman, Andre Rademaker.
The 49ers were also the beneficiaries of a race course close to Weymouth beach, and got a couple of races in for both fleets. There was another outstanding performance in this fleet, this time from Italy’s Sibello brothers posting two seconds and a first to lead overall from Austrians Nico Luca Marc Delle Karth and Nikolaus Leopold Resch.
Among the British John Pink and Rick Peacock lie fourth two points ahead of Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith. Brotherton commented: "The conditions weren’t ideal today but that’s sailing and we rolled with it. We didn’t get many breaks in the first race but the second was better and that is going to be reflected in the results. But the important thing is that we went out there and enjoyed ourselves and didn’t burn each other out in the first day.
"What happens on the first day rarely reflects on what happens at the end of the week but we enjoyed ourselves out there. We are going to get a good range of conditions this week and the best people are going to end up winning, there is no doubt about that. The ups and the downs will even themselves out over the week and our job is to make the best of every single opportunity that presents itself."
The 470s started mid-afternoon with some of the fleet’s most recognisable names struggling in the conditions. In the Men's fleet it was Croats Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic that topped the day with a second and a third, closely followed by France's Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos. Portugal’s Alvaro Marinho posted a third and a fourth with crew Miguel Nunes and hold third overnight. Aussie World Champions Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page had a slow start back in 15th.
The 470 Women saw stronger performances with double World Champions Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout from the Netherlands leading overall from Spain's Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos. However there was confusion in the first race with Britain's Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes among seven boats disqualified after being adjudged to have sailed the wrong course. Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark were 2,21 on the water today.
The Star and Finn classes were not released until 15:00 hrs and had the longest sail out to their course. They were each able to get one race in that finally got underway at 17:30 after the wind had settled.
In the Finn no one was particularly surprised to see Britain’s triple gold medallist Ben Ainslie lead for the first lap, but then New Zealand’s Dan Slater slipped through on the final round when Ainslie sailed to the wrong gate, and took the win.
"The race went well today and that was all down to getting a good start," commented Slater. "I started at the pin end which was significantly biased, and allowed the first three place getters in the race to effectively ‘port tack’ the fleet. Then I managed pull alongside the leader (Ben Ainslie) on the downwind which forced us to different gates. The gate I rounded appeared to be favoured which gave me margin for the last upwind, and I retained that to the finish"
Ainslie added: “I had a really good race with Dan – I was just ahead of him at the windward mark and I pulled away from him a bit down the first reach and on the second run I couldn’t really get it going and he caught up a bit. Then I made quite a big error going to the wrong gate and that give him a bit of a jump. I pulled up a little bit but I couldn’t quite get it back. So it was a bit frustrating to give up the lead but other than that it was a solid result considering everything that’s gone on today. In the end the conditions were okay. It took a long time to get to that point and there were a few other things that were a bit frustrating but I guess it was as we expected it would be. It would have been nice to have won the race but I don’t think I can complain at the result.”
The Star race Brazil’s Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada won from Poland's Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki, with Canada’s Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn in third.
"There was a lot of current on the start line so we were very careful not to be over the line," explains Scheidt. "We didn’t get a great start but that actually put us in a position where we could play the fleet a little. First we were playing in the middle but we managed to round the first mark in the lead followed by the Polish team. That was key to winning the race – it meant we had clean wind when we were sailing downwind so we could extend our lead quite significantly. By the time we were on the third beat we had extended enough that we made it difficult for the rest of the fleet to make up that water."
For British favourites Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson it was a tough day finishing 22nd in the 41 boat fleet. Percy explained: "We just never got into it today and we made a schoolboy error when we overstood the windward mark by half a mile and ended up reaching in against the tide. It was a very short course and we’re not used to that, but we were aware of it so we should have thought, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. When you make an error on a short course it becomes hard because then you are playing catch up which is really hard. We never gave up trying and I think over a series that pays off. They breaks just didn’t fall our way today."
The huge Laser fleet was out late with again one race held across the two Standard and Radial fleets. In the latter it was France's Sophie de Turckheim and Franziska Goltz who were the winners from China's Lijia Zu and Spain's Fatima Reyes.
In the Men’s fleet, it was the Netherland's Rutger van Schaardenburg and Sweden's Jesper Stalheim who won their races ahead of Britain's Nick Thompson and Austria's Andreas Geritzer respectively. Tom Slingsby finished fourth in his division while Paul Goodison was eighth.
Van Schaardenburg commented: "The conditions are really challenging, in this weather everyone can sail fast and everyone knows what side of the course to choose and what position they need to be in on the start line, so it is all about having a good start. I have put a lot of effort into practicing my starts and it paid off today so I am happy with that. We were on a different course that we haven’t sailed on before and there seemed to be less waves and less tricky winds so it is different game, but the race we did was really good– we had good conditions and nice wind. It was a shame we only got one race in today as the wind has really picked up tonight but we should have some good conditions tomorrow so I am looking forward to that."
49er Sailed: 3
1st ITA 3 SIBELLO Pietro / SIBELLO Gianfranco 5pts
2nd AUT 84 DELLE KARTH / RESCH9pts
3rd FRA 1162 D’ORTOLI Julien / DELPECH Noe 13pts
470 WOMEN Sailed: 2
1st NED 11 WESTERHOF Lisa / BERKHOUT Lobke 6pts
2nd ESP 696 PACHECO Tara / BETANZOS Berta 7pts
3rd USA 1757 MAXWELL Erin / FARRAR Isabelle 17pts
470 MEN Sailed: 2
1st CRO 83 FANTELA Sime / MARENIC Igor 5pts
2nd FRA 44 PIERRE Leboucher / VINCENT Garos 7pts
3rd POR 81 MARINHO Alvaro / NUNES Miguel 7pts
FINN Sailed: 1
1st NZL 1 SLATER Dan 1pt
2nd GBR 3 AINSLIE Ben 2pts
3rd CRO 524 KLJAKOVIC GASPIC Ivan 3pts
LASER Sailed: 1
1st NED 192625 VAN SCHAARDENBURG Rutger1pt
2nd GBR 198211 THOMPSON Nick 2pts
3rd NZL 198109 MALONEY Andy 3pts
LASER RADIAL Sailed: 1
1st GER 198982 GOLTZ Franziska 1pt
2nd CHN 177117 XU Lijia 2pts
3rd FIN 199059 MULTALA Sari 3pts
STAR Sailed: 1
1st BRA 8255 SCHEIDT Robert / PRADA Bruno 1pt
2nd POL 8417 KUSZNIEREWICZ Mateusz / ZYCKI Dominik 2pts
3rd CAN 8361 CLARKE Rochard / BJORN Tyler 3pts
SKUD 18 Sailed: 2
1st AUS 47 FITZGIBBON Daniel / TESCH Liesl 3pts
2nd AUS 52 DUNROSS Jamie / COX Rachael 6pts
3rd GBR 45 RICKMAN Alexandra / BIRRELL Niki 6pts
SONAR Sailed: 2
1st AUS 788 HARRISON Colin / BOADEN Russell 3pts
2nd USA 674 DOERR Rick / KENDELL Brad 3pts
3rd NOR 1 WANG-HANSEN Aleksander / KRISTIANSEN Per Eugen 8pts
2.4 Sailed: 2
1st FRA 13 SEGUIN Damien 5pts
2nd NED 12 SCHMITTER Thierry 8pts
3rd NED 11 RADEMAKER Andre 9pts
RS:X MEN Sailed: 2
1st POL 82 MYSZKA Piotr Myszka 2pts
2nd POL 738 GRODZICKI Lukasz 4pts
3rd GBR 1 DEMPSEY Nick 5pts
RS:X WOMEN Sailed: 2
1st ESP 1 MANCHON Blanca 2pts
2nd FRA 4 CHARLINE Picon 3pts
3rd ESP 5 ALABAU Marina 4pts
More images from Ian Roman/www.ianroman.com