49ers and 470s underway
After long postponements for all three remaining classes at the Open Europeans Helsinki 2011, a light breeze finally filled in late in the day to allow three races for the 49er and two races for each of the 470 fleets. Sailing on the most offshore course, racing for the Finns was cancelled earlier and will now hopefully start their championship on Sunday.
Nico Delle Karth/Nikolaus Resch (AUT) retain the overall lead in the 49ers and with the first of the 470 races completed, Mat Belcher/Malcolm Page (AUS) and Ryunosuke Harada/Yugo Yoshida (JPN) share the lead the 470 Men after both posting perfect scores, while Tina Mrak/Teja Cerne (SLO) lead the 470 Women.
With temperatures passing 30° onshore and hardly any wind all morning, most had resigned themselves to a long wait. A light breeze from the south filled in and the sailors were finally released from the beach from around 16.00. The wind gradually increased to around 8-10 knots with the racing continuing until early evening.
In the 49er, both yellow and blue fleets were able to get off three races today in tight racing just off the inner harbour. The sailors were finally sent out around 4:30 in a slowly building breeze.
After the fifth race, the overall leaders were Peter Kruger Andersen/Nicolai Thorsell (DEN) who had a three point lead over Nico Delle Karth/Nikolaus Resch (AUT) and were leading the sixth and final race of the day when at the leeward gate their main halyard gave way. Kruger Andersen commented: "We came around the gate in first, going into the second lap and our main fell down and we had to go in. There are different ways you can attach your main and obviously the one we chose at the moment is maybe too risky. It's not the main halyard itself that broke, it's the way we tied the rope. From now on we'll use a normal shackle; we've used rope in the past as we don't want the shackle to break the carbon fibre. It's the first time it's happened to us."
With six races completed the leaders going into the final day of qualifying are Nico Delle Karth/NikolausResch (AUT) followed by Nathan Outteridge/Iain Jensen (AUS) with Kruger Andersen/Thorsell (DEN) falling to third overall. Qualifying races finish tomorrow followed by three more days of the final series culminating with the medal race to be held on Wednesday 13 July.
For the Finn class, the PRO, Peter Reggio, took the decision to cancel racing for the day at 13.25 with no wind in place at that time. With the Finn course area the furthest offshore, around five miles from the venue, no racing could start within 90 minutes of releasing the fleet from shore. The longer the delay went on, the more unlikely racing was to happen.
He said: "There is no wind out there. If we sent them out now they would be starting at 3 o'clock in no wind and if any wind did arrive it's not going to be sufficient to give them a good race for thefirst race of the series. We have plenty of time to catch up and I'd rather wait for better breeze to give them better racing than what might develop today. But even if it might I don't think they'd be happy to go out and race in this after waiting around for four or five hours. That's just wrong, so we blew it off and sent them home."
The final confirmed Finn entry is 71 boats from 23 nations, including 16 juniors competing for the Junior Finn Europeans. The Finns are racing in one fleet until Wednesday, with the medal race for the top 10 and the final race for the rest on Thursday 14 July.
The 43 boat 470 Women fleet got racing in a steady 10-12 knot breeze, with a general recall in race one followed by a clear start. Race 1 was a close finish between Slovenia and Spain, with world ranked #23 Tina Mrak/Teja Cerne just moving ahead to take the gun by six seconds over Tara Pacheco/Berta Betanzos.
Several boats were sent off the race course in race 2, suffering the consequence of a black flag penalty. Annika Bochmann/Anika Lorenz (GER) were pretty satisfied with their 11th place in race 1 today, so were disappointed to be back on shore early from race 2. "We thought it was clear. I am really disappointed to come home," said Lorenz, before returning to their race 1 success. "We had a very good shift to to the left androunded the windward mark in third or fourth, but then during thefirst downwind and second upwind we lost a few places. But, it wasreally good and I am satisfied."
The Spanish pair of Pacheco/Betanzos again kept the pressure on in race 2 and were in the leading pack, with their main focus on catching the Brazilian boat helmed by 200 8Olympic bronze medal winning helm Fernanda Oliveira, with crew Ana Luisa Barbachan, who had grabbed the lead early on, but it was not to be and the win went to the Brazilians with a 30 second margin, followed by the Spanish in second and Mrak/Cerne in third.
Delighted with their race win, Oliveira commented: "In the first 10 minutes I think we had the lead. Westarted on the right side and then tacked and we could sail withclear air with good wind, and then we tacked again and it was done.It was a big difference against the fleet."
After two races, Tina Mrak/Teja Cerne lead with Pacheco/Betanzos second and Oliveira/Barbachan third.
The 74 boat 470 men have been split into two fleets - red and yellow - with an equal assignment of boats to each fleet, seeded based on their World Rankings. Seventeen of the men's top 20 world ranked teams are competing here in Helsinki, so it is inevitable that racing will be close.
On to the race track first was the yellow fleet, including the world #1 team of Mat Belcher/Malcolm Page in its ranks and they did what they do best – a race win in race 1.
All eyes were on the Aussies as they went into race 2 for the yellow fleet and continued their stunning form with a second race win. But across in the red fleet Ryunosuke Harada/Yugo Yoshida (JPN) are matching the delivery of the Australians also with two race wins – which puts both teams on equal points leading overall after day 1. A 4,2 for Sime Fantela/IgorMarenic (CRO) places them in third overall.
Page reflected on race 1: "There were little puffs and, randomly I guess, we got them better than most and were able to come through. We didn't do anything crazy, didn't grab a corner or anything like that, but just got a little bit better than those boats around us and came through and it felt like that most of the day - in control."
Full results here