Consistent Dutchman continues to lead Finns
The first Gold fleet races at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships started with a moderate sea breeze providing almost perfect sailing conditions off Fremantle today.
The Netherland’s Pieter-Jan Postma has retained his narrow lead in the Finn class after taking out the only Gold fleet race on Thursday.
Postma was challenged for most of the race by his two closest competitors on points, Skandia Team GBR’s Giles Scott and Ben Ainslie, who finished second and third respectively in the Gold fleet’s race 6. Scott and Ainslie therefore retained their second and third places overall.
“[Today] would have been a lot more straightforward if I’d had a decent start but I got my timings all wrong so was on the back foot really, but I managed to pull through half way up the first beat and rounded third,” Scott explained. “I managed to get Ben but didn’t have enough to get Postma so that was slightly frustrating but second’s still good.”
Ainslie, in the hunt for an unprecedented sixth Finn world title, was complimentary of his key rivals and relishing the competition. “It’s a very strong fleet, the Finn fleet, and it’s broad in its level of talent. Certainly Giles and PJ are two of the brightest guys out there and are normally up there at the top of the fleet, so I expected them to be doing well.
“So far we’ve seen reasonably strong conditions and you see some guys in the fleet who like those conditions doing well, and others not so well, so we’ll see what happens for the rest of the week,” said the triple Olympic gold medallist of the predominantly windy conditions in Fremantle.
“I’m one of the smaller guys in the fleet so I do find [the windy conditions] hard at times, but that’s the challenge. You’ve got to be able to perform whatever the conditions are and certainly Giles and PJ are sailing really well at the moment so I’ll have to hope they slip up somewhere along the road!”
Finn expert Robert Deaves looks at what happened in detail: The top three overnight all finished in the same order in the top three in the race to keep the points close at the top, though a small but significant margin is being built by them over the rest of the fleet.
The fleet was treated to fantastic conditions once again with sunshine, 14-16 knots of wind and nice waves. Now racing in gold and silver fleets, regatta leader Pieter Jan Postma (NED) led from start to finish in the gold fleet. Ben Ainslie (GBR) rounded in second, with Giles Scott (GBR) in third. Scott sailed past Ainslie on the downwind, but Postma kept his cool and and led and rounded the final windward mark with a narrow lead. Postma and Scott extended on Ainslie downwind to win by a sizeable margin from the five times champion. Behind them, defending champion Ed Wright (GBR) climbed through the fleet to fourth after a poor first upwind.
Postma said: “It was great to win another race today. With just one race scheduled, I could put all my energy into this race. The British team had a great race, all in the top places. I have a bad race from the first day so I am holding my breath. I still attack though and will keep racing this way. At this high level you just can't relax. You have to go for it. At the same time I have to manage the risks, especially at the start to avoid a disqualification. Tomorrow is no exception, I will keep giving it my all."
Double European Champion Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) has been struggling in the tough conditions, currently in 13th place after finishing 14th today. “It's been really windy so far and for me it's not easy as I am pretty light, so I was struggling. And today I had a really bad start so had to recover from behind and it wasn't that easy. Almost impossible in fact. For the moment it not the sweetest point but, let's hope for better in the coming days.
“It's hard to be with the fast guys especially in this wind. But this event is not that important for me. I just need to qualify the country for the Olympics and after this I can relax and focus on that. I am aware that fighting for medal here is difficult for me, so I just need to be realistic.”
On the battle at the top he said: “They are close but it all depends on the conditions. If it remains like this I think PJ has a stronger chance because he is super fast but if wind starts to gets changeable and shifty then I think Ben and Giles are going to be fighting for the gold.”
The last word today goes to the Skandia Team GBR coach Matt Howard: “We had five in the top seven today and so far so good. It reflects the long amount of time spent here training with the squad. The only one who didn't train this long is Ed but he is the World Champion from a windy venue so he is expected to do well as well. We all worked hard and so far it is paying off. Fingers crossed for the rest of the week. It is surely very satisfying for a coach but these results are even more satisfying when you are a sailor. For a coach though, it is hard to have a fully good day because in a big team there is always one of the guys who didn't perform so well. Today is one of those very rare days when everything works well.”
Top 20 results:
|5||WRIGHT Edward Martin||GBR||8||2||(37)BFD||1||1||4||53||16|
|13||KLJAKOVIC GASPIC Ivan||CRO||3||6||(37)BFD||5||7||15||73||36|
Australians Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page are on track to defend their Men’s 470 World Championship crown after taking the overall lead from Great Britain duo Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell today.
Belcher and Page finished third in the Gold fleet. “We had a good race and ended up with a third and we’re very happy with that,” said Page. “Obviously with all the good guys in the one race it can be very expensive but to come away with a third, another keeper, and we’re carrying a nine in the bag as a reserve for later on.”
The 470 fleet was due to have a lay day today, but after thunderstorms kept the sailors on shore on Tuesday the race committee took the opportunity to get back onto schedule and change what was going to be the last qualifying race into the opening finals race with the top half of the fleet racing against each other for the first time.
“To have the extra finals race for us was great,” said Belcher. “It showed real forward planning by the committee to be able to get that today and we look forward to the next few days, anything can happen in finals racing and we’re going to keep focusing on ourselves and keep trying to plug away and get results.”
Fortune did not smile on Patience and Bithell however, who posted a disastrous 28th position following a bad start and a capsize, but are able to discard this as their worst result and so remain in second place overall just two behinds behind the Australian leaders.
“We had a bad start and got caught in the pack up the first beat which actually led to a capsize – silly me keeping the jib cleated – and it was an uphill battle from there,” Bithell explained. “We caught a few back but nothing too special – but that’s okay. We had a good qualifying [series], we’ll bring our fifth in now, hopefully discard today’s result and look forward to tomorrow. Two more races, breeze on apparently – we’re not phased and we’ll keep going.”
Croatia’s world No. 3s Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic powered through the course to take first place and were followed by Israel’s Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela.
Nick Rogers and Chris Grube improved their standings to seventh overall thanks to a fourth from their race, with the double Olympic silver medallist Rogers delighted with their result on a “perfect day’s sailing”.
“It was a really important day for us,” he explained. “In the results overall we’ve got a bad result already to carry so it was really important that we get generally good strong top ten results. I think we overcame one of the small problems we had from yesterday we’re really pleased with a good result.”
Nic Asher and Elliot Willis also remain in the top ten medal race positions in the 470 fleet, despite a bad outing today
Top 20 results
|1||BELCHER Mathew||PAGE Malcolm||AUS||-9||1||1||1||1||3||16||7|
|2||PATIENCE Luke||BITHELL Stuart||GBR||5||1||1||1||1||-28||37||9|
|3||FANTELA Sime||MARENIC Igor||CRO||-22||2||2||5||2||1||34||12|
|4||MANTIS Panagiotis||KAGIALIS Pavlos||GRE||3||8||-16||4||3||8||42||26|
|5||KLIGER Gideon||SELA Eran||ISR||2||-12||9||11||3||2||39||27|
|6||GERZ Ferdinand||FOLLMANN Patrick||GER||7||7||7||2||5||-23||51||28|
|7||ROGERS Nick||GRUBE Chris||GBR||14||5||4||2||-20||4||49||29|
|8||SNOW HANSEN Paul||SAUNDERS Jason||NZL||1||9||-17||3||7||13||50||33|
|9||McNAY Stuart||BIEHL Graham||USA||11||5||8||5||5||-21||55||34|
|10||ASHER Nic||WILLIS Elliot||GBR||12||4||10||8||2||-34||70||36|
|11||LINDGREN Joonas||LINDGREN Niklas||FIN||1||2||14||15||6||-26||64||38|
|12||DAHLBERG Anton||OSTLING Sebastian||SWE||2||16||3||7||11||-33||72||39|
|13||LEBOUCHER Pierre||GAROS Vincent||FRA||4||10||3||7||16||-25||65||40|
|14||CHARBONNIER Nicolas||MION Jeremie||FRA||15||6||2||10||8||-27||68||41|
|15||ZANDONA' Gabrio||ZUCCHETTI Pietro||ITA||8||3||11||6||14||-15||57||42|
|16||BARREIROS Onan||SARMIENTO Aaron||ESP||5||-27||5||8||8||20||73||46|
|17||MATSUNAGA Tetsuya||IMAMURA Kimihiko||JPN||3||4||17||-18||6||17||65||47|
|18||CALABRESE Lucas||de la FUENTE Juan||ARG||15||13||4||3||16||-19||70||51|
|19||SCHMID Matthias||REICHSTADTER Florian||AUT||10||-18||6||14||10||12||70||52|
|20||HARADA Ryunosuke||YOSHIDA Yugo||JPN||-18||17||13||14||4||5||71||53|
Women’s Match Racing
Close matches ensured exciting sailing wrapped up the end of the Stage 1 Round Robin for Group A in the Women’s Match Racing with USA and Russia securing a berth at the London 2012 Olympic Games after finishing top of the group.
Australia and Finland can still make it through to the quarter-finals and secure an Olympic berth with a top four finish in the Stage 2 Round Robin repechage.
The team of Australia’s Nicky Souter added to the excitement of the day in her match against Stephanie Hazard’s New Zealand team, much to the delight of the Australians in the grandstand.
The USA’s Anna Tunnicliffe turned around a disappointing start with wins over Dekleva Paoli (SLO), Silja Lehtinen (FIN), Ekaterina Skudina (RUS), Nicky Souter (AUS-1) and Stephanie Hazard (NZL) following two losses in her morning matches.
The last race of the day was the rescheduled morning match between Tunnicliffe and Hazard’s after it had been abandoned due to a collision with an umpire boat.Hazard had received a penalty against the American, and then collided with the umpire boat as they attempted to take it, with crew Susannah Pyatt receiving a slight bump on the head.
There was also a set-back for the Argentinas in their match against Silke Hahlbrock’s team from Germany in flight 17, with skipper Martina Maria Silva falling overboard, forcing her team to turn around to pick her up.
World number two, Belgium’s Evi van Acker, continues to lead by 14 points overall despite finishing a race outside the top four for the first time. World number one Marit Bouwmeester and world number five Paige Railey from the USA, are her closest competition at the close of play today.
The Gold fleet started the day in a moderate wind which picked up later to 18 knots of sea breeze.
Railey had her first win of the series in race six, with her only competition coming from China’s Lijia Xu and van Acker. Railey won the race comfortably, while the real fight was between Xu and van Acker for the minor placings.
Continuing her good form, Xu picked up another second place after leading for much of race seven. On the second last leg, Beijing silver medallist, Lithuania’s Gintare Scheidt sailed ahead of Xu to win her first race in Perth 2011.
Marit Bouwmeester suffered her worst result of the championship in race six, finishing 13th.
Alison Young remains the top British contender in the Laser Radial event, in tenth overall with Lymington’s Hannah Snellgrove in 14th and Charlotte Dobson 21st.
Top 20 results:
|1||van ACKER Evi||BEL||1||1||4||2||2||3||-19||2||34||15|
|16||de TURCKHEIM Sophie||FRA||7||11||12||7||7||17||-40||34||135||95|
Poland’s Zofia Noceti-Klepacka had more on her mind than just winning her RS-X races, crediting her impressive comeback on a new mental outlook.
Noceti-Klepacka, 25, said her turnaround from Monday’s racing – where she had a 10th and an 18th – to winning two of Thursday’s three Gold fleet races to move into third place overall was because of a personal tragedy.
“My friend died, so I was very sad,” she said. “On the first day my head wasn’t in the sailing, but everyone spoke to me and told me to sail for him. I am sailing for him. Sometimes there are things more important than sailing.”
Noceti-Klepacka didn’t just win races six and seven in the Gold Fleet. She smashed the opposition as she headed home by large margins, firstly in light winds and then in a moderate sea breeze.
“My first day was really bad but now I’ve recovered. Now I can fight for a medal. I feel very fast.”
Israel’s Lee Korzits leads the competition on 14 points with Spain’s Marina Alabau second on 20. Noceti-Klepacka has 27 points in third place, two clear of Great Britain’s Bryony Shaw.
Top 20 results: