|After three breezy races to end qualifying, the fleet headed back to the base. Daniel Nybork and Sebastian Olsen (DEN) sailed brilliantly with a 2, 1, 1 and upon reaching shore with their first ever lead in a 49er championship, Sebastian dropped everything to sprint back into the water and rescue their team mates who were capsizing on the ramp. Giving a flex and a wink to those on shore once the boat was upright again, he knew it had been a good day. Good moves on the water, good citizens off the water, these Danes were in their element!
Today is the day the regatta truly began, with four races for one side of the 49er draw and three races on the other. After a slow start the 2018 Junior Worlds are up to full speed! The 49er fleet started first under deep blue skies, flat water, and 16 knots of breeze. The wind build through the day so that by the time the 49erFX and Nacra 17 launched in the early afternoon they were racing in almost 20 knots.
Daniel and Sebastian have been racing together for a couple years and did a full season this summer with Kiel, the Euros and Worlds. With finishes outside the top 50, they are clearly in the development phase of their careers, but here against their peers they are showing some progress.
Challenges Lurking In Every Element
Overnight leaders, Tim Mourniac and Virgil Aubriot (FRA) used their local knowledge and broad experience to pull ahead on home waters. The were leading the 52 boat strong 49er fleet after the first three races in qualifying.
Tim is in his final year in competition for the Junior World title, and seems intent on grabbing the opportunity. Leaning on experience as a
– French youth Kitesurfing champion,
– Nacra 15 World Champion
– Participant in the Tour De France a Voile (combines inshore, with offshore racing)
– F18 Silver at Worlds
…this youngster is multi-talented on the water. He followed the multihull course into Nacra 17 and also races DM24 as well. He’s only 1 month into racing 49er with his new partner Virgil.
Virgil is a relative veteran in the 49er, having competed since 2015 in the class. He is on a break with his normal skipper who injured himself a month ago. Finding Tim available to push for the Junior Worlds seemed a natural option.
The duo were on pace to sweep the qualifying, with a 1, 2, 2 start, but a capsize in the 2nd race today started a chain reaction to push their contender status to the brink.
In a tight top mark rounding, both they and the boat next to them capsized in a big puff. The boat behind made the bear away, but then had nowhere to go and hit the French while on their side breaking their tiller in the process. The French downed their sails, were towed in, changed the tiller/rudderbox, and headed back out to try and make the fourth race to salvage a gold fleet berth. With only two drop races, every moment counted in the turnaround. Their 49erFX team mates turn out to help, and before too long they were headed back to the course.
Arriving at the starting area just as the final race was starting, they rounded up, started on time, and came fifth in the race to ensure they will make gold fleet.
A Young Fresh Community of Sailors
There are 99 teams or 198 sailors racing here for the Junior Titles. This is the 8th year of the championship for 49er, the 6th years for 49erFX and the 1st year for the Nacra 17 to race for these titles as a stand alone event.
The junior age for these classes is U23, which means that no sailor can turn 23 years old in 2018.
Some of these teams that can stick with their sailing and find success will race against each other in six years time at the same venue for the 2024 Olympics.
Facing Up to The Forces of Nature
While the 49er fleet was on the water and the wind was building, the 49erFX and Nacra 17 fleets were on shore listening to the whistling of the wind. There were plenty of anxious faces as these athletes faced up to the mental and physical challenge that awaited. Sometimes the waiting is the hardest part… other times it’s the sailing, and we only really find out once on the water.
Once the fleet got outside of the breakwall, it was quickly apparent how the day would go. A few teams returned immediately, aware their skills were not advanced enough for the task. Of those that remained, few thrived, but all had fun.
It was a day of swimming, getting upright, and going at it again. In the open competition, only one team thrived. The Austrians boys Keanu Prettner and Niklas Habler sailed capsize free to a 3, 2, 3. In the women’s event, Poland’s Aleksandra Melzacka and Klinga Lobado sailed error free in the first and third races, but did go for a swim in the second for a 2, 18, 2.
For everybody else, from the front of the fleet to the back it was a mix of sailing fast and trying to stay upright more than the next. Leaders of the women’s competition, Swedes Vilma Bobeck and Malin Tengstrom were all smiles while reporting, “We were always fast, just sometimes upside down. I don’t know how it kept happening, but we’d find ourselves at the front of the pack and then capsize.” A day with a 1, 7, 10 was the result, still pretty decent, so you can imagine how the day went for some of the slower or more capsizy teams.
Roxany Dubois (FRA) had a similar style to her day, but with decidedly different outcomes. “We only just started sailing 49erFX, and we capsized at least 6 times today. But we managed to finish the last race of the day, so that was our victory.”
Another common thread to the day was the full use of energy. After all the nervous waiting, and then plenty of swimming, the teams will sleep well tonight.
Keeping the boat on the Water
The Nacra 17 fleet had all they could handle in the first two races. Tayla Reitman and Lachlan White (AUS) finally took a win from the dominant Italians in the first race, but the two were well ahead of the pack. The Italians got them back in race 2 of the day, and went on to with the final race as well, taking 5 of 6 races so far.
Javier Aribas and Adriana Barron (PER) capsized in the second race, the only capsize of the day, but then came back full of fire to grab third in the final race of the day. Javier described the situation, “We were going downwind and then came down from a wave badly. The next thing I know I’m up by the jib, Adriana is under the main, and I have no idea how I got there.” With nothing broken, on boat or body, they kept on through the day.
With the wind backing off somewhat in the third race, it was back to racing mode from survival, and the fleet had some good battles.