Mills and Clarke move into first
Day Two of Skandia Sail for Gold proved tough for everyone, as race officers took the opportunity to catch up with the schedule. If yesterday was about the subtleties of light air racing, today was all about fitness and technique in the building breeze and waves. Weymouth turned it on with sunshine and an afternoon breeze that exceeded 25 knots on the outer courses.
There was surprise at the top of the 470 Women’s leaderboard. Here the new British pairing of Saskia Clark and Hannah Mills have scored two bullets in four races and this has been enough to propel them into the lead, seven points ahead of Denmark's Henriette Koch and Lene Sommer with Italy's Giulia Conti and Giovanna Micol one point adrift in third. However the situation in the 470 Women is skewed due to a number of DSQs among the top teams which will see favourites such as Dutch duo Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout, Spain's Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos and New Zealand's Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie propelled to the top of the leaderboard once the discard kicks in.
“It’s been a good start – we didn’t want any shockers on the first couple of days and we’ve achieved that,” said Mills. “We sailed pretty well today, which was nice in the breeze to show that we can sail against the fast girls as well so we’re pretty happy. "e’ve worked pretty hard on our windier weather set up and style and we’ve come a long way in the last three weeks – obviously there’s lots more to come but I think where we are is a good place if we race well then we should hang in there with the best of them hopefully.”
Saskia Clark added: "I think we are a bit unexpected to be leading at the moment. It’s only two days into the regatta so we have a long way to go. We have been sailing together for three months now and we are still on a huge learning curve. As long as we keep on learning and keep sailing well it will hopefully all come together for the end of the week. Our number one goal is to do as best as we can in the regatta and at the moment that’s medalling. The next few days are going to be tough and hard physically, I think the forecast is pretty big especially for tomorrow but hopefully we can just keep sailing well together."
Racing on the outer race course in the Finn was the current Olympic Champion Ben Ainslie (GBR). Ainslie answered some of those who doubted that he could win here in the breeze. Only double European champion Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) ended up accumulating fewer points with his second and fifth places pulled him up to second overall and onto equal points with Britain’s triple Olympic gold medallist.
Ainslie will probably be disappointed with his seventh place in the day’s opening race, but as the breeze built though the afternoon to 20 knots, he will be much happier with a win in the second and final race of the day. Overnight leader Dan Slater (NZL) added another bullet and a tenth place to his scoreline, dropping him down to third. Giles Scott (GBR) pulled up two places to fourth, eight points off the leading duo, while also on the rise is the 2009 Finn Gold Cup winner, Denmark's Jonas Hoegh-Christensen, who is not a regular on the Olympic circuit, but who is up to 5th.
Ainslie commented: "The first race was a bit strange, on the first beat I thought the right side of the course had the best conditions but I didn’t read it very well and ended up well behind the leaders. I started to catch up from there and finished strong to get seventh place. In the second race the wind came up a bit more which made it difficult to read the best side of the course to take. Luckily I took the best side and at the first mark I was third and I then I slowly pulled through to win the race. Today was hard work physically. The winds strong, the waves choppy and the races long, you’re out there for six hours and racing for three so it’s all about saving yourself for the right moment and getting the crucial decisions right. The GB sailors are all doing well with five of us currently in the top ten, Giles (Giles Scott), Mark (Mark Andrews) and Millsey (Andrew Mills) are all sailing well and I’m sure Ed Wright is going to start showing form this week as these are his sort of conditions. Overall I’m happy with my form so far but there’s always room for improvement."
Sharing the outer course with the Finns were the Stars. Here four-time Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt and his Brazilian team-mate Bruno Prada continue to be the class act, today adding two seconds to their bullet from yesterday. Double Olympic medallist, Poland's Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki won the first race and now stand five points off the leaders while another two-time Olympic medallist Sweden's Freddie Lööf and Max Salminen hold third. Local favourites and Beijing Olympic gold medallists Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson had a better day, with a fourth and 11th raising them to 12th overall.
Racing in two fleets, the 470 Men are currently being led by Hyeres winners Pierre Lebouche and Vincent Garos from France, three points ahead of Sweden’s Anton Dahlberg and Sebastian Östling. However it was the Dutch brother Sven and Calle Coster who had the best day on the water, there 3-1 today elevating them to 17th. Aussie favourites Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page with a 7-2 putting them into sixth. In the inter-Brit competition as expected Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell lead, in ninth overall, but only two points ahead of Nic Asher and Elliot Willis in turn four points ahead of both Nick Rogers/Chris Grube and Ben Saxton/David Kohler.
Mat Belcher commented: "The racing is pretty difficult here. We are a long way out of the harbour- I think the furthest out we race from of all the World Cup events so it is a different kind of racing. It’s a tough fleet and we are just going out there and trying our best. All of the World Cup events are selection events for us, so we have come to Weymouth straight from the Delta Lloyd Regatta. All the events are important but I think mentally this one has a bit more significance as it is the Olympic venue. The conditions are completely different out there to yesterday but we have come to expect that from Weymouth – the racing here for the Olympics is going to be a lot better than Qingdao that’s for sure! You have to be an all round sailor and be able to cope with different conditions, the focus is always on getting the boat to go as fast as you can, no matter what the conditions are."
It was the Laser Men who were out late this evening, as the race officers worked their way through the sub-fleets that have to race on this course. They all sailed three races to try to catch up their schedule, and the overnight leaders all slid down the leaderboard. Today's winners were Brazil's Bruno Fontes, German Simon Grotelueschen, Austria’s Andreas Geritzer, Kiwi Andrew Murdoch, favourite Tom Slingsby and Britain's Nick Thompson, leaving Geritzer, Slingsby and the Netherland's Rutger van Schaardenburg all tied at the top on 15 points after four races. Among the Brits Nick Thompson holds fourth on 20 while favourite Beijing gold medallist Paul Goodison is 8th on 31.
Tom Slingsby commented: "It seems every time I train in Weymouth its very light winds but every time I do a regatta it is very strong! I am happy just to get every type of condition thrown at me and for me it is about just trying to prepare for next year, if I qualify. The goal is to never be beaten on these waters, I'm not sure how that will go this week, but I am working hard at that. I remember Paul (Goodison) did that in Beijing - he was undefeated there and everyone knew he was going to be hard to beat so that's the sort of thing I want to happen looking to next year. I want to show I am a contender here."
The two favourites in the Laser Radial have moved to the top after four races sailed wth Belgium's Evi van Acker one point ahead of the Netherland's Marit Bouwmeester. However despite the varied conditions it remains tight at the top with Finnish double World Champion Sari Multala one point away in third. But there is pleasing news for the Brits with Charlotte Dobson, just four points from the lead in fourth while today's best scoreline went to fifth placed Alison Young with her 1-1-2 which will see her propelled upwards when she can discard yesterday's 17th. This should also be the case for Ireland's Annalise Murphy, who posted a 4-1-2 today.
"It went all right today," reported Bouwmeester. "There was not a lot of wind during the first two races. It was very tricky under the Portland Bill hill. So I was happy with the result – two firsts. But I was not too happy with the third race when the wind increased. I did not get enough out of that race. I did not manage to get my boat going fast over the waves. The Brits have obviously trained a lot here. Young did well. She also knew where to go. Tomorrow another day, looking forward to it."
The Brits also had a better day in the 49er where John Pink and Rick Peacock's 1-6-2 now puts them five points from Italian leaders the Sibello brothers, while Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes are up to third, four from second, with the best scoreline of the day, a 3-1-1, after discarding their their BFD in race one. Favourites Australians Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are currently ninth.
The RS:X fleets had a fantastic day, racing in winds up to 20 knots. In the Women's fleet it was Israel's Lee Korzits who had the best day with two bullets, but in the lead remain the two Spanish favourites with Marina Alabau on just eight points, five points ahead of Blanca Manchon. Britain's Bryony Shaw lies eighth with work to do.
Among the RS:X Men New Zealand's JP Tobin and talented Dutchman Dorian van Rijsselberge also posted two bullets each in their respective fleets with Tobin taking the overall lead. However of note is the performance of Korea's Taehoon Lee, winner of the Asian Windsurfing Championship in Singapore in January and most recently at the Delta Lloyd Regatta, who lies second three points behind Tobin and one ahead of the Dutchman. Britain's Nick Dempsey, World Champion here two years ago, is in the hunt in fifth ahead of Beijing Gold medallist Tom Ashley and current World Champion Piotr Myszka.
The Match Racing completed the first group stage, giving us those who have qualified for the Gold Group (Quarter Final). From Group A it was the Netherlands’ Mandy Mulder, Annemieke Bes and Merel Witteveen topping the group with six points equal to - but winning the tie-break with - second placed Sally Barkow, Elizabeth Kratizig-Burnham and Alana O'Reilly from the USA.
In Group B, Anne-Claire Le Berre, Alice Ponsar and Myrtille Ponge (FRA) went through on six points, one win more than Australia’s Nicky Souter, Jessica Eastwell and Lucinda Witty, qualifying in second. And from Group C it was Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vendemoer and Debbie Capozzi (USA) going through with a clean sheet, and Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor (GBR) joining them with five wins.
Anna Tunnicliffe commented: "We had a great day again today. We had three races and came away with three wins to win our Group C round. Our last race was against the Brits (Lucy Macgregor). They controlled us for the first minute or so of the pre-start, but then we managed to get control of them after that. We led them into the start a few seconds late, and matched their tack off the line. We had great speed and were able to pin them to the layline. Downwind, they closed the gap at the leeward mark, but we pulled ahead again up the next beat and held our lead to the finish. The conditions were windy so boat control and speed were important. Now we advance to the Gold Round. The team did a great job in the bigger breeze making great calls all around the course. The conditions in Weymouth are great. It’s chilly when the wind blows, but the wind is fantastic. The facilities are great and make training and racing very good."
On the harbour course for the Paralympic teams, it was the 2.4mRs' turn to race in the morning, so they got a milder roughing up from the weather. It was the Netherlands' Thierry Schmitter that took the day with two bullets to pull up to the top of the leaderboard, passing France’s Damien Seguin – Schmitter’s countryman, Rademaker remains in third. But it is Schmitter that is the current ISAF World Cup leader, and he was clearly loving the conditions, saying afterwards: "Sometimes it almost feels like you are in a washing machine. It makes you feel alive."
Once the 2.4mRs were finished on the Paralympic course, the SKUDs and Sonars took over, but not for long in the case of the former, only managing one race before being sent ashore in the freshening conditions. The race was won by Skandia Team GBR’s Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell to creep one point closer to the overnight leaders, Beijing silver medallists, Australians Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch. The other Australian pair of Jamie Dunross and Rachael Cox dropped to third.
The Sonars had a better day of it, completing two races. The overnight tie between Australia’s Colin Harrison and Russell Boaden and America’s Rick Doerr and Brad Kendell was broken in favour of the latter. But both teams suffered a dramatic slide down the leaderboard to fifth and sixth respectively. The new leaders are Britain’s John Robertson and Hannah Stodel, who tied the day with Udo Hessels and Marcel van Veen – both pairs had a first and a second.
Racing continues at Skandia Sail for Gold until Saturday.
Provisional Results - day 2:
49er Sailed: 5
1st ITA 3 SIBELLO Pietro / SIBELLO Gianfranco 18pts
2nd GBR 8 PINK John / PEACOCK Richard 23pts
3rd GBR 7 MORRISON Stevie / RHODES Ben 52pts
470 WOMEN Sailed: 4
1st GBR 847 MILLS Hannah / CLARKE Saskia 28pts
2nd DEN 143 KOCH Henniette / SOMMER Lene 35pts
3rd ITA 23 CONTI Giulia / MICOL Giovanna 36pts
470 MEN Sailed: 4
1st FRA 44 PIERRE Leboucher / VINCENT Garos 17pts
2nd SWE 346 DAHLBERG Anton / OSTLING Sebastian 20pts
3rd CRO 83 FANTELA Sime / MARENIC Igor 21pts
FINN Sailed: 3
1st GBR 3 AINSLIE Ben 10pts
2nd CRO 524 KLJAKOVIC GASPIC Ivan 10pts
3rd NZL 1 SLATER Dan 12pts
LASER Sailed: 4
1st AUT 189537 GERITZER Andreas 15pt
2nd AUS 197541 SLINGSBY Tom 15pts
3rd NED 192625 VAN SCHAARDENBURG Rutger 15pts
LASER RADIAL Sailed: 4
1st BEL 197514 VAN ACKER Evi 12pts
2nd NED 200444 BOUWMEESTER Marit 14pts
3rd FIN 199059 MULTALA Sari 15pts
STAR Sailed: 3
1st BRA 8255 SCHEIDT Robert / PRADA Bruno 5pts
2nd POL 8417 KUSZNIEREWICZ Mateusz / ZYCKI Dominik 10pts
3rd SWE 8450 LOOF Fredrik / SALMINEN Max 19pts
SKUD 18 Sailed: 3
1st AUS 47 FITZGIBBON Daniel / TESCH Liesl 5pts
2nd GBR 45 RICKMAN Alexandra / BIRRELL Niki 7pts
3rd AUS 52 DUNROSS Jamie / COX Rachael 9pts
SONAR Sailed: 3
1st GBR 748 ROBERTSON John / STODEL Hannah / THOMAS Steve 7pts
2nd NED 688 HESSELS Udo / VAN VEEN Marcel/ ROSSEB Mischa 12pts
3rd NOR 1 WANG-HANSEN Aleksander / KRISTIANSEN Per Eugen / SOLBERG Marie 12pts
2.4mR Sailed: 4
1st NED 12 SCHMITTER Thierry 10pts
2nd FRA 13 SEGUIN Damien 10pts
3rd NED 11 RADEMAKER Andre 16pts
RS:X MEN Sailed: 2
1st NZL 151 TOBIN JP 10pts
2nd KOR 71 LEE Taehoon 13pts
3rd NED 8 VAN RIJSSELBERGE Dorian 14pts
RS:X WOMEN Sailed: 4
1st ESP 5 ALBAU Marina 8pts
2nd ESP 1 MANCHON Blanca 13pts
2rd FRA 4 CHARLINE Picon 15pts
MATCH RACE - Gold Group Qualifiers
Mulder / Bes / Witteveen NED 6-1
Barkow / Kratizig-Burnham / O’Reilly USA 6-1
Le Berre / Ponsar / Ponge FRA 6-1
Souter / Curtis / Price AUS 5-2
Tunnicliffe / Vandemoer / Capozzi USA 7-0
Macgregor / Lush / Macgregor GBR 5-2
More images from Ian Roman/www.ianroman.com
And from Richard Langdon/www.oceanimages.co.uk