Aussies and Kiwis lead
A gusty breeze for the first say of the five race Qualification Stage at the 2013 470 World Championships in La Rochelle, France and there was no surprise to see the Olympic Champions Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie of New Zealand leading the 470 Women fleet, and Olympic Champion Mat Belcher with crew Will Ryan at the front of the 470 Men.
The breeze was around 14 knots, building to 18 knots by the end of the day, with rain greeting teams in the boat park this morning.
The men’s and women’s fleets were today seeded into fleets based on past performance, and will be re-seeded for tomorrow based on their overall leaderboard position today.
Australia’s Mat Belcher and Will Ryan opened their Championship pursuit in first overall on the leaderboard, from a 1,1,2 scoreline. 2012 Olympic Gold medallist Belcher has won the 470 World Championships with Malcolm Page three-times, with back to back wins in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The Belcher/Page partnership claimed an unmatched run of wins from December 2011 to Page’s retirement after the Olympics, a performance which the new Belcher/Ryan combination has continued. Last month in Italy, the pair also won their first 470 Open European Championships title.
The only team to beat the Australian’s in the yellow fleet today were Greece’s Panagotis Mantis/Pavlos Kagialis who took out the race 3 victory.
“There are a lot of good sailors in this fleet,” said Kagialis. “And the Australians are currently the best, but they can be beaten.”
In second overall are Pierre Leboucher/Nicolas Le Berre who on Saturday won the 50 Year Cup long distance race, with New Zealand’s Paul Snow-Hansen/Daniel Willcox in third. Willcox comes from a family of 470 sailors, as his father Hamish is a three-time 470 World Champion, and raced the Legends' Trophy on Sunday 4 August.
The top British team after the opening day are Nick Rogers and Elliot Willis. Making their nation’s debut performance at a 470 World Championships are Matias Monthino/Sergey Paixao from Angola.
Top 5 results (full results here)
1. Mat Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS) – 2 pts
2. Pierre Leboucher/Nicolas Le Berre (FRA) – 7 pts
3. Paul Snow-Hansen/Daniel Willcox (NZL) – 9 pts
4. Panagiotis Mantis/Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) – 10 pts
5. Nicholas Rogers/Elliot Willis (GBR) – 10 pts
London 2012 Olympic gold medallists Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie from New Zealand control the 470 Women leaderboard with a 2,1,1 scoreline in the blue fleet. France’s Camille Lecointre/Mathilde Geron raced in the yellow fleet and sit just 3 points behind. The two teams will only come up against each other in the finals stage on Wednesday, and last met at the 470 European Championships in July. There the French pair won the European Championship title, with the New Zealanders finishing second in the Open European Championship.
Aleh commented: “In typical regatta style we had conditions we hadn't seen for the two weeks we have been here getting ready, complete with thunder storms early on today. It was a great breeze of 12-16 knots, and some rather large waves at times as it is very shallow out there. We started off well with a second in the first race, and then followed that up with two race wins.”
China’s Olympic pair of Xiaomei Xu/Chunyan Yu end day 1 in third overall. Early days, but looking promising for an upgrade on their 16th place finish from the 2012 470 Worlds.
Great Britain’s Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark are making their first competition appearance since winning their Olympic silver medal last year. The pair, who are the defending 470 World Champions, have taken a 10 month break since Weymouth and with not many hours in the boat preparing for the Worlds may find themselves a little off form. Hard to believe that today, with a 3,2,4 scoreline.
Clark commented: “We probably feel a bit gutted that we’re going in as defending World Champions and are probably not in any fit state – in terms of hours we’ve done in the boat – to defend our title. But it is what it is. We’ve taken the time off because we felt it was the best thing long-term so we’ll have to take the short-term hit!”
Top 5 results (full results here)
1. Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL) – 2 pts
2. Camille Lecointre/Mathilde Geron (FRA) – 5 pts
3. Xiaomei Xu/Chunyan Yu (CHN) – 6 pts
4. Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR) – 9 pts
5. Afrodite Kyranakou/Anneloes van Veen (NED) 11 pts