It was a day for calculated thinking and well measured approaches for the 171 sailors from 21 nations across six classes as racing commenced at ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao.
Whilst the wind was a steady 8-9 knots it was the strong current that played the biggest factor on the opening day with thought processes aplenty.
Those who read the conditions well rose to the top of the leader boards as three races were completed in the Men's and Women's RS:X and two in the Men's and Women's 470, Laser and Laser Radial.
Laser and Laser Radial
Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) and Pavlos Kontdies (CYP) were models of consistency on the opening day with the former posting two bullets and the latter taking two seconds.
It was a day of challenges for the 37-boat fleet with tactful sailing in a tough breeze and strong current. Stipanovic took gold at the 2013 edition of ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao and used his experience of the waters to full affect, dominating the day, “It was a really good first day,” said the Croatian. “I managed to finish both races first, all marks around first but it was a really difficult wind with a lot of shifts. I was trying to keep on the left side the whole day and I managed to do that.”
At future ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas the fleet size will be reduced to 40 boats and with a number close to that in Qingdao Stipanovic likes the size of the fleet, “It's much better than last year and it's almost 40 boats which we'll have next season in the World Cup so it is really nice. Next season all 40 boats will be top guys and it's good that ISAF is changing and trying something.”
Despite trailing Stipanovic in both races Kontides was always in the hunt, putting the Croatian under pressure in both races. With the current and wind playing a big factor on the opening day Kontides always believed he would overtake his training partner, “In the strong current it was really important to be correct otherwise you would lose or gain a lot of metres,” said the Cypriot, silver medallist at the 2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao.
“The race was never over until the end. I sailed consistently and had two second places and I am satisfied with the way I sailed and the way I thought during the races and I'm looking forward to the rest of the week.
“It's a nice group of people and pretty competitive. You can see how one big mistake can get you right at the back of the fleet and you have to be careful because there are a lot of guys who can really good in this regatta.”
Wannes Van Laer (BEL) holds third position after the conclusion of race day one following a third and an eighth.
In the Laser Radial it was another 2013 victor, Dongshuang Zhang (CHN), who leads the way. Zhang was consistent on the race track posting two second place finishes to lead Sara Winther (NZL) by four points.
Gu Win (CHN) stole the show in the opening race of the day as she took an early lead. The Chinese racer got clean air and was able to extend her advantage as the race played out. She followed it up with an eighth in the second race to occupy third place overall.
2013 Laser Radial World Champion Tina Mihelic (CRO) took the second bullet of the day and sits in fifth.
Men's and Women's RS:X
Greece's Byron Kokkalanis grabbed the lead in the Men's RS:X fleet with a solid day of racing. Posting a 1-4-2 scoreline the Greek racer is one point ahead of China's Xue Jingqi.
Kokkalanis explained how things panned out on the race track, “It was really tricky and gusty because the wind was blowing from the towers and cliffs so it was really hard. It's a hard fleet in the light winds because the Chinese are really good. There can always be someone on the top for them as they are all very equal. I had fun and tomorrow the wind looks good, a nice breeze so we can have some more fun.”
The Greek sailor, visiting Qingdao for the first time, is revelling in the Chinese racing and culture and is making the most of his visit, “I love the place,” exclaimed Kokkalanis, “I've never been here before. It's my first time. I did my campaign in 2008 but I didn't qualify for the Olympics so it's nice to be here and to see the place. The Opening Ceremony was good. I've never seen an Opening Ceremony in the World Cup like that, it was really nice.”
Going into the second day of competition and three more races are scheduled. With the breeze forecast to increase, Kokkalanis is looking forward to another good day of racing, “I'm just doing to do my best, I know I am fast planing and in strong wind. I'll just keep an eye on the guys who are doing really good as well and just see what comes out.”
The day's bullets went the way of Jingqi and Fu Erhao (CHN) who is down in sixth.
In the Women's RS:X Lu Yunxiu (CHN) and Olga Maslivets (RUS) share the lead on three points. Maslivets was the stand out performer in the Women's RS:X picking up an opening race bullet and following it up with a second and a fourth.
Yunxiu discards a 24th in the second race of the day so will have to remain consistent throughout the remaining races to ensure she keeps in touch at the top of the bunch.
Men's and Women's 470
Greece's Pavlos Kagialis and Panagiotis Mantis have been one of the top performers in the Men's 470 over 2014 and peaked at the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships where they walked away with bronze. The pair have carried that form over to ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao and with a 2-4 score line they lead the 18-boat Men's 470.
As the week progresses it will be the team with the most consistent results that will walk away with the spoils. Race 1 victors Weng Daoliang and Lin Qiaowen (CHN) picked up an 11th in the second race to sit fourth overall. Zhou Chuancheng and Lin Yiqiang (CHN) took the second race bullet but posted a sixth in the opening race.
In the Women's 470 China's Wei Mengxi and Xu Yani lead after a second and a bullet. They have a slender three point advantage over Japan's Ai Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka.
The breeze is expected to pick up on the second day of competition. Racing is scheduled to resume at 13:00 local time on Wednesday 15 October.
– ISAF Media