NZ v Croatia
Taking advantage of the morning breeze, the Race Committee got teams off early on race day 4 at the 470 Worlds to complete three races.
In a breeze of around 10-12 knots, the 470 Women kicked off race five at 1005, followed by the 470 Men. A long day for all, with around eight hours spent out on the water.
Birthday girl, Camille Lecointre and crew Helene Defrance (FRA) raced a dream series, 10,1, 6 and continue to hold the overall lead. Another superb day from China’s Xiaoli Wang/Lizhu Huang, including a win in race 7 propels them to second overall, with Sydney Bolger/Carly Shevitz (USA) in third.
In the 470 Men, as predicted yesterday, the advantage was initially with Onan Barreiros/Juan Curbelo (ESP) who came into their own as the only team to count an all top ten scoreline, and bounced up to first overall after race 6. But a 21st and OCS penalty in races 7 and 8 dropped them to 7th by the end. Reclaiming the leader’s bibs by the end are New Zealand’s Paul Snow-Hansen/Daniel Wilcox, with Mat Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS) in third.
The camelote plants made a return to the race track in greater numbers. Their appearance is a rare phenomenon due to storms last month. But, as teams recognise, they all face the same challenge.
Just two more races now remain to decide the top ten teams who will advance to Saturday’s Medal Race. Those at the front of the pack look hard to unseat, but for the teams in the lower half of the top ten leaderboard, anything could happen tomorrow.
All was looking good for Spain’s Onan Barreiros/Juan Curbelo, as they claimed the lead after race 6, but it was short lived as a 19th in race 7 unseated them. A race 7 win propelled Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO) to the front, and no surprise to find defending Championship Mat Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS) chipping away at the leaderboard, moving up to third after race 7 and sitting tight after race 8.
There was a log going on across the race track, as the camelote plans unseated a lot of race strategies and meant there was a huge amount to concentrate on. Back on form after their 24th place yesterday, Paul Snow-Hansen/Daniel Wilcox (NZL) checked out of race 6 with a win, moved up to second overall, and their second win of the day in race 8 secured their number one position.
“We are pretty pleased with the day. It’s been pretty tough with the weed out there and a lot going on, so getting good results on top of the chaotic sailing conditions is really awesome,” said Paul-Hansen.
He attributes much of their success to the support team around them, saying, “We have to say a huge thanks to our coaches for doing some good work with us, and also the young boys Sam and Zak. We really appreciate all they have contributed to our campaign.”
Four race wins so far is an epic delivery at a World Championship, and cause for celebration. “Whenever you win a race at a Worlds, you really, really enjoy it and it is amazing to do. We just want to make good decisions around the race course and sail fast, and if it’s a race win that’s great,” concluded Snow-Hansen.
Fantela/Marenic were the last team to win a 470 Worlds title, before the six year run of glory by Mat Belcher, three golds with Malcolm Page and three with Will Ryan. They almost reversed things at the 2015 470 Worlds, but couldn’t quite catch the Australians in the medal race. In tomorrow’s two races anything can happen, but Fantela/Marenic are on a roll.
“It is very close and very tough racing and the conditions are really, really challenging for the sailors and the Race Committee,” commented Marenic. “The weed means we cannot focus only on sailing, but other than that we are super pleased with our performance today. We had a good strategy and we followed it to the end. We played a lot with the shifts, which is a game we like, so today was working really well for us."
Already guaranteed a place in the medal race line up, tomorrow will be a day of consolidation for the Croatians, as they try to maintain their position.
After the glory of yesterday’s first ever race win which pushed them to the front of the leaderboard, South Africa’s Asenathi Jim/Roger Hudson kicked off today on the back foot scoring their worst result of the series so far, a 22nd, dropping to 4th overall. Their change in fortunes continued, following up with a 22,28 to drop to ninth. Jim partially attributed their performance to exhaustion, saying, “We were here until late last night fixing our slot gasket, and here early this morning, I am just exhausted.”
A surprise performance so far from Argentina’s 470 stars, Lucas Calabrese/Juan de la Fuente places them in 16th overall, 25 points off the top ten, something not anticipated on their home stamping ground.
“We are not lucky in this Championship,” said a dismayed de la Fuente. The Argentineans broke their rudder in race 6 and were forced to retire. A quick fix to the pin between races got them going again, but racing a home Worlds they were imagining better.
“For sure we were hoping to do better,” he added. “We are still working with the equipment and I don’t think we made a good approach to the Championship, as in the end this is not our main target. It is important as it is a Worlds in Argentina, but it is all about the Olympics.”
Ferdinand Gerz/Oliver Szymaski (GER) drop out of the top ten, with Stu McNay/David Hughes (USA) shifting up.
Results (top 10)
1. Paul Snow-Hansen/Daniel Willcox (NZL 2) - 37 pts
2. Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO 83) - 39 pts
3. Mathew Belcher/William Ryan (AUS 11) - 48 pts
4. Sofian Bouvet/Jérémie Mion (FRA 27) - 55 pts
5. Anton Dahlberg/Fredrik Bergström (SWE 349) - 56 pts
6. Panagiotis Mantis/Pavlos Kagialis (GRE 1) - 69 pts
7. Onán Barreiros Rodríguez/Juan Curbelo Cabrera (ESP 9) - 69 pts
8. Gabrio Zandona/Andrea Trani (ITA 2) - 74 pts
9. Asenathi Jim/Roger Hudson (RSA 1) - 81 pts
10. Stu McNay/David Hughes (USA 1 ) - 84 pts
Celebrating her 31st birthday Camille Lecointre, with crew Helene Defrance, found herself locked in a points battle with defending World Champions Lara Vadlau/Jola Ogar (AUT), sitting on 18 points apiece after race 5. A win in race 6 and a 6th put the French firmly ahead, whilst the Austrians dropped to 4th.
The French pair took their first medal at a 470 Worlds last year in Israel, sealing bronze. Before that, with her previous crew, Lecointre took silver at the 2012 470 Worlds and won the 2013 470 Europeans. Right now, they look to be hitting the right notes as they prepare for Rio.
“It was hard for the nerves today, because of all the weeds,” admitted Lecointre. “There is more pressure because every time you catch one you slow down so much and it changes all your strategy as well. Sometimes you really have to avoid it and we were a bit lost in the first race,” she said referring to their 10th place.
“The wind was hard to get,” added Defrance, “especially the last race. We did some mistakes too, and we just keep trying to be more accurate to avoid losing points.”
“Our coach was not so happy, as we did some stupid mistakes so it destroyed a bit my birthday joie de vivre,” smiled Lecointre.
China’s Xiaoli Wang/Lizhu Huang pressed their opponents every step of each race, scoring 7,2,1 to improve their overnight position by 4 places moving up to second overall. China has three teams competing here, as they battle through their national selection process.
A slow and steady climb for 2012 Olympic Gold Medallists, Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL), who today stepped up four leaderboard positions to 5th.
“We had a few speed issues earlier in the week, and we are slowly just trying to work through them and solve them and try and get a bit quicker,” explained Powrie. “It is also just trying to piece together the whole race, as its really not over until is over here.”
Recognizing the step up all teams seem to be delivering in the final months before Rio, Powrie added, “Certainly the racing has been really tight. It feels like everyone has stepped it up a level and it’s great to try and be a part of it and go along with it.”
Aleh/Powrie last won a Worlds in 2013, but medals are not at the forefront of their minds. “We don’t really focus on the result to be honest, it’s more to tick off the things we have been working on and try and keep progressing forward”, concluded Powrie.
Elsewhere in the fleet, the battle for national selection doesn’t get any easier.
Raising their game this Championship are Spain’s Barbara Cornudella/Sara Lopez, although it almost ended in disaster in the day’s opening race 5. A collision with another boat damaged their bow and water soon filled the tanks
“In the first upwind we broke the bow of our boat, and water was coming in throughout the race. We discussed whether to retire or not, but thank goodness we kept on going and finished 15th,” said Cornudella.
Between races, they hauled their 470 onto the coach boat to drain the tanks and a spot of tape plugged the damage for the next two races. No harm done, as they continued a superb day of racing with a 5, 2 and move up three places to 7.
“In a career you have a level, but sometimes you are going down and you see the results in some races they are so bad. And then there is a time that you go up again, and then you go higher than your level,” Cornudella added in reference to their escalation on past performance, which positions them as the top Spanish team.
After securing the nation's place on the Olympic starting line last year, for Australia’s 470 sailors it is now all about which will team will go. A tough scenario as two sisters, Sasha and Jaime Ryan, face off against each other. Older sister Sasha is helming with crew Ella Clark, whilst the other team sees Jaime at the front and Carrie Smith helming. Today Smith/Ryan improved their overall standing to 14th overall and critically increased their points advantage over their team mates.
“It was a good last two races, although our first race wasn’t so great,” reflected Smith. “We got caught up in a whole bunch of weed, which we hadn’t experienced before, but we learnt a whole bunch of lessons. We are happy with the day.”
To decide if the nation will actually take up its slot in Rio, either team has to meet targets set by Australian Sailing and at the end of the day, the national sailing authority will decide whether it is the right decision to send a team. A decision which will be taken in the coming months. So, for Smith/Ryan they just have to keep on delivering their best.
“We just have to keep proving ourselves at every event leading into the Games. To keep showing that we are learning and enjoying ourselves is also our main thing,” added Smith.
Certain a unique scenario to have three siblings campaigning together, something which doesn’t always sit comfortably with Jaime as she competes against her sister.
“To now be racing against Sasha is a very unique situation and maybe not the most ideal, but I think we try not to let it get too personal. It is just racing, and at the end of the day the one who comes second is happy for the one that comes first. Sailing is pretty brutal in the selection process and we just have to be happy for each other and support each other.”
In a surprise turn of form, World #7 team and 2015 470 European silver medallists, Tina Mrak/Veronika Macarol (SLO) are languishing at the back of the fleet.
“This is a Championship to forget, that’s for sure,” commented Macarol. “Every day was really bad. Today in the first race we got caught in the plants and then we got a black flag, and the third was again bad.”
“I think after all these races we are not concentrating and we just don’t sail how we know, and I don’t know, it is just to forget and I hope the next regatta will be good.”
Their opening race of the series, a 7th, reflected where they would normally be in the leaderboard, but that result was also a disappointment for the pair, as Macarol continued, “Even that was a bad race for us. We could have finished 2nd, but we didn’t. For everyone, for sure it is difficult here in Argentina, but for us and also the British girls it is not good.”
The British Girls are 2012 Olympic silver medallists and world #1 pair Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark, who sit in 23rd and it will take a miracle for them to convert their current standing of 122 points to anywhere near the top 10.
“No, you could say that,” quipped Mills in response to this not being their Championship. “We have had a tough week. We’ve sailed alright actually and we don’t feel we have been sailing that badly, but it’s just not quite clicked. We have two OCS scores which doesn’t help anyone’s series, but we are still positive and we have learnt a heap coming here, so it has still been really worthwhile. It’s the challenges that make you stronger and we will learn from this as best we can and move forwards.”
One new team move into the top 10, with Poland’s Agnieszka/Irmina Orozek (POL11) upgrading, whist Switzerland’s Linda Fahrni/Maja Siegenthaler drop to 17th
Results (top 10)
1. Camille Lecointre/Helene Defrance (FRA 9) - 25 pts
2. Xiaoli Wang/Lizhu Huang (CHN 1221) - 28 pts
3. Sydney Bolger/Carly Shevitz (USA 88) - 32 pts
4. Lara Vadlau/Jolanta Ogar (AUT 431) - 36 pts
5. Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL 75) - 43 pts
6. Anne Haeger/Briana Provancha (USA 1712) - 43 pts
7. Bàrbara Cornudella Ravetllat/Sara López Ravetllat (ESP 14) - 46 pts
8. Afrodite Zegers-Kyranakou/Anneloes Van Veen (NED 216) - 49 pts
9. Fernanda Oliveira/Ana Luiza Barbachan (BRA 177) - 50 pts
10. Agnieszka/Irmina Orozek (POL11) - 58 pts
Tomorrow, Friday 26 February, racing is scheduled to start at 1100 hours, with three races for the 470 Women who will start first, followed by 470 Men who will sail two races.