Big day in Weymouth
A second day of 20-25 knots and gusty conditions proved a tough test for all sailors at the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta, the Olympic Test Event. While the 470s, Lasers and Radials enjoyed some respite from the breeze on their layday, the Finns, 49ers, Stars and RS:X windsurfers saw the thick of the action.
In the Finns, Ben Ainslie edged out a three point lead after starting the day level on points with Frenchman Jonathan Lobert. The Olympic legend pull ahead thanks to a good comeback to third in the first race and a race win, having led from start to finish, in the second race of the day.
“I had a better day than yesterday – I didn’t make quite so many mistakes and no swimming today, so it was a better day," said Ainslie. "The last race was a nice one to finish off the day with. The first race wasn’t so good. I had a very nice start, but I didn’t do such a good job of reading the wind and so I struggled a bit. I think I was around in about tenth of twelfth for quite a lot of the race but I had a very good final upwind leg, which put me back up to third place which I held to the finish. I was happy with that considering where I was for most of the race. All the courses are quite different really. Certainly it’s very challenging conditions, it’s quite hard to read the wind and to decide which side is going to pay so I think it’s keeping everyone on their toes.”
Race 5 winner Jonathan Lobert (FRA) is now second on 15 points and yesterday’s hero, Pieter Jan Postma (NED), is third on 16 points.
Poland’s Zofia Klepacka has moved into pole position in the Women’s RS:X after finishing second in Race 7 and winning Race 8. She led race 7 from the start but after rounding the second windward mark she went for a swim allowing Canada’s Nikola Girke to move past and open up a ten second lead. Klepacka fought back hard to reduce the deficit to four seconds but she ran out of time as Girke took her first bullet of the regatta.
Girke said, “I got a good start with clear lanes. I just gained steadily on the girls in front. When I was second the Polish girl [Klepacka] got caught on the mark and fell, so I got past and stayed there.”
In Race 8 Klepacka blew the field away making no mistakes to finish ahead of Lee-El Korzits (ISR) by 24 seconds and with Marina Alabau (ESP), leader after six races, finishing fifth and sixth in the big winds Klepacka has moved ahead by three points. Charline Picon (FRA) remains in third place on 31 points and Race 7 winner Girke is eighth on 57 points.
Britain's Bryony Shaw remains in overall fourth in the RS:X Women after a testing day. She found herself suffering from a speed deficit on port tack and kit breakage, but came away from the day with 8,9 to keep her in touch of the podium spots and still feeling positive.
“It was tough out there for me today,” Shaw admitted. “I managed to think about how I was sailing through the day and tomorrow we’ll learn from all those things, capitalize on the strengths I clearly do have, and try and get that port speed back up there and hopefully be right back up there in the top three. Whatever conditions come about tomorrow, I’ll be confident that I can race well and I’ve got the tools to do. I’ve just got to keep my head up and hopefully it will all come together.”
For the fourth consecutive race day in the Men’s RS:X there is no separating Nick Dempsey (GBR) and Dorian Van Rijsselberge (NED). The pair have dominated racing in Weymouth and shown consistency that will win gold medals. The Dutchman won Race 7 and came third in Race 8 and Dempsey mirrored Van Rijsselberge coming third in Race 7 and winning Race 8. Both sailors have 11 points with two race days remaining.
Athens bronze medallist Dempsey explained: “I just wasn’t quite set up as well up as I’d have liked to have been. The wind just increased a little bit during the race and caught me off guard a little bit. But for the second race I was able to get set up well, and just lead from the start, so I’m happy. We spend a fifth night now tied on points. All year Dorian and I have been pretty close and it just seems that this week the both of us have upped our game a lot for this event and we seem to be separating ourselves from the rest of the fleet, which is fantastic. It was always going to be tight by the end of the week.”
Greece’s Byron Kokalanis is in third on 35 points.
On the Nothe Course, where the 49ers and Women’s Match Racers sailed one gust was recorded at 30 knots.
The overall lead in the 49er changed hands for the third time at the close of the day as Spain’s Iker Martinez and Xabier Fernandez moved in front following a great day on the water. The Spaniards came third in Race 7, won their third race in Race 8 before coming second in Race 9. They lead on 24 points closely followed by Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) on 28 points. New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke trail the Australians by ten points in third place. The days other race wins went the way of Gianfranco Sibello and Pietro Sibello (ITA) and France’s Emmanuel Dyen and Stephane Christidis.
Britain's Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes held on to fourth overall. They posted a solid 5,2,9, with Morrison finding the day’s “snakes and ladders” frustrating after a breakage in the first race and a twisted spinnaker in race three lost them a couple of places on an otherwise good day.
“It was really windy and there were a lot of potential slip ups to be had out there. I think we probably did alright – the first two races were really quite good,” he explained. “I feel like we could do with a little bit more luck and then we’d be getting one or two places more whereas at the moment we seem to be losing one or two places."
World #1 Star duo Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada had, by their standards, a bad day at office finishing second in Race 5 and ninth in Race 6. But with the discard coming into play they discard their ninth place and continue to lead on seven points. Ireland’s Peter O’Leary and David Burrows had a good day placing first in Race 5 and third in Race 6. They move to second overall and Poland’s Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki are third on 19 points. Canada’s Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn won Race 6 and with 40 points they sit in ninth place.
Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson had a better day on the water, pulling up to sixth overall with a 4,2 to show for their day,
In the Women’s Match Racing Olivia Price (AUS) defeated Lucy Macgregor (GBR) 3-2 to advance to the fifth/sixth place playoff. Mandy Mulder (NED) also advanced after beating Anna Kjellberg (SWE) 3-0.
Only one flight was possible at the end of the day and Price defeated Mulder to lead 1-0 and Macgregor beat Kjellberg. The sail offs are expected to continue on Wednesday but if they do not then Price will finish fifth, Mulder sixth, Macgregor seventh and Kjellberg eighth.
Tomorrow sees the Women’s Match Racing Semi Finals as well as the Petit Final. The RS:X racing continues and the Laser, Laser Radial and Men’s and Women’s 470 sailors hit the water again for their seventh and eighth races.