Deutschland Sailors Stake Early Podium Spots in 49er and FX

Thursday, 31 August 2017

After losing the first two days of the49er and FX World Championship to a lack of sailable conditions, Day 3 of the 2017 Worlds opened under yet another curtain of fog, rain, and light air.  With a tantalizing breeze a few miles offshore just beyond the fog banks, frustration reigned ashore for sailors, coaches, and race officials as the waiting game continued.

At around 2 PM, the first rays of sun tickled the top of the masts just as the Northerly breeze began to flow, and a few minutes later, hundreds of faces were smiling as officials hoisted the flags and released the 49ers from the shore.

After day after day of waiting around on shore the fleets leapt into action, with more than 80 boats launching in just minutes before heading out to one of the 3 race courses just off the port of Matosinhos.  Big rolling ocean swells greeted the fleets, with a light 4-7 knots of northerly breeze providing enough power to get through the lump, but not much more.

Of all the teams, no one started the day stronger than Portugal’s own Olympic veterans Jorge Lima and Jose Costa – the duo took a bullet in race 1 and a 2nd in race 2 in their section.  “It was a good start to the regatta, but maybe the best work we did was in race 3,” said Lima, who had a terrible start to the final qualifier of the day.  “We’re proud of our performance in that race, coming back from near the back of the fleet and passing lots of teams thanks to a big right shift on the final beat,” he said.  The team finished 13th in that race.

Lima and Costa are looking forward to the stronger wind and bigger waves forecast for the rest of the week – conditions similar to their training camp in Lima’s home port of Cascais.  “We’re trusting the stronger weather forecast, and we’re looking forward to it,” said Costa.

Great Britain’s James Peters and Finn Sterritt continued the strong performance they showed during their bronze medal European Championship sail last month, scoring a 2,2,5 to lead all 49er fleets after three qualifying races.  They lead a massive, 11-team strong British 49er effort, but surprisingly Peters/Sterritt are the only UK team in the top ten after three races – something that most expect to change rapidly when the breeze kicks in tomorrow.

German 49er sailors had a huge first day of racing, and not just the veterans: Rio medalists Tommy Ploessel and Erik Heil finished their day in third place, ending the day with a 1,2 in the final two races.  Meanwhile, Ploessel/Heil’s longtime training partners and rivals Justus Schmidt and Max Boehme did them one better; a 4,3,2 scoreline was good for second overall, just one point ahead of the Olympic vets and tied on points with the British leaders.

As strong as the top German teams were, the three German youth teams may have been even more impressive given their experience level. Tim Fischer and Fabian Graf lead the three-boat youth group, the pair sitting in 11th place after a 20,1,1 scoreline (the other two youth teams are in 18th and 19th place). 
Graf said the key to their performance today was not complicated: You had to have a great start.  “With the light air and big swells, it was crucial to be able to hold your position for a long time after the start, so you had to have the freedom to work the boat through every wave,” said Graf, who alongside his squadmates spent the winter training in Kiel.  “We fortunately had some time to get used to the ocean swell during our training here before Worlds and at Europeans in 2015, so we felt comfortable with our tuning and the more difficult technique required in the waves.”

With the women’s 49er FX fleets only able to complete two races for each of their two courses, results may not mean much, but despite missing a few months of training and the European Championship, Rio silver medalists Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) were back on the form they showed when winning the first ever FX World Championship in 2013, leading with 4 points.
Anxious to improve on their hard-fought Kiel European bronze-medal performance last month, Vicky Jurzcok and Anika Lorenz sit second on five points, with Denmark’s Hansen/Iverson and Finland’s Ruskola/Wulff tied on six each.  Hansen said the afternoon racing was glorious.  “We took it easy in the morning thanks to frequent updates on Facebook from the Class, so we came down fresh and well-rested and had a great day on the water,” said Hansen.  “The wind was really nice and we felt good around the course, and we’re looking forward to more of everything tomorrow: More wind, more racing, more sun…”

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 31 August 2017 )