Dutch are Dominant while Croatians and Kiwis find their Form
Mihovil Fantella of Croatia bolted the port wing back onto his 49er early this morning after a starting line crash in Tuesday’s last race wrecked his boat, sails and rig. After some late night epoxy work and hours of rigging they hammered out a 1, 10, 2 today which dropped them in a group of six teams looking to break the stronghold on first held by Lambriex/Werken (NED) who are four points clear of the Croatians in second.
“Luckily the accident was the last race of the day,” said Mihovil as he and his brother pulled their mast down to re-calibrate settings after today’s racing. “Sime was in a protest to 10, I was there fixing and preparing for the new day. You can’t do much about that you just have to go straight on fixing and try to be as prepared as you can.”
The FX fleets were free of accidents and drama, and the consistency of the top four, six points separating them all, is a fine preview of the tension that will build when the gold fleet races begin Friday.
The Schmidt sisters of Denmark have been going from strength to strength this week, rounding the top mark of race 6 in second behind Maloney/Hobbs (NZL). They slipped to third in that race but still hold a two-point lead over Bobeck/Netzler (SWE) and Roble/Shea (USA) who is another one point behind in third.
Aleh/Meech (NZL) had a blinder of a day with a 5, 2, 1 and the pair is finally settling into a form they they both know from precious sailing in the Olympic Games, albeit with different partners.
“It’s just nice to go sailing again,” said Aleh this morning as she dropped shroud pins in new settings. Since her gold in London and silver in Rio, both in women’s 470, she has been a national coach and is a vice President at world Sailing. Meech was Maloney’s partner in Tokyo last summer.
A steady 15 knots was pressing down on the two FX fleets in the afternoon on the Bay of Aarhus, but the three 49er race circles saw solid white caps and gusts well into the 20s for their morning races.
While Lambriex/Werken (NED) had a hiccup in race six sailing their throwout (9th), standouts Colley/Connor (AUS) have been consistently stringing together a beautiful scoreline to leave them in a three-way tie for third that includes Peters/Sterritt (GBR) and McHardie/McKenzie (NZL). The latter’s teammates Dunning Beck/Gunn (NZL) have also been finding their wheels after a disastrous Kiel Week result of 47th.
“We just really had to go back to basics,” said Dunning Beck who came tantalizingly close to unseating Olympic gold medalists Burling/Tuke (NZL) for the Tokyo 49er berth. “We watched videos and just are slowly finding our way back.”
Gunn said the pair are humble, not thinking this week’s string of solid races means they are back in business. Dunning Beck added carefully, “We are putting it in our pocket, but it’s not all the way in yet.”
Tight Fleet but for Tita and Banti (ITA)
There must have been something “right” about Vittorio Bissaro’s frame of mind this morning as he crouched in the gravel boat park while meticulously taping the inspection port on one of his Nacra 17 hulls. He and Maelle Frascari are world champs in the class but have been leaving double digits on the the table until the last race today, where they passed the seemingly unstoppable German pair of Kohlhoff/Stuhlemmer for the win.
“The majority of the water that comes in the hulls comes from these ports,” said Bissaro who was struggling with this week’s shifting and gusty conditions. But today was a good day. The sun was blaring down on the Bay of Aarhus, the shifts settled down and the Italians had a jump on the fleet starting in the middle of the line and foiling upwind while most were shifting. At times there was two miles between the left and right groups and though the Germans were launched on the first downwind, Bissaro/Frascari found their passing lanes on each leg, trouncing to first by the final downwind leg.
Tita/Banti sailed their throw out (8th) in the last race of the day while Kohlhoff/Stuhlemmer locked in fourth place overall in this qualifying series with a second in race 6.
Standing out this season, and so far this week, are still the young New Zealanders Wilkinson/Dawson who are solidly locked into second place. Their event results in 2022 have been a six, five and four. If that’s a trend, then top three looks quite attainable for the pair.
But this is still qualifying races through Thursday and keen observers know that the likes of Olympic medalists Lange/Travascio (ARG), Waterhouse/Darmanin (AUS), and steady climbers including Kurtbay/Keskinen (FIN) are carefully eliminating mistakes, readying themselves to take any opportunity and steel races from the current leaders.