Clearwater, FL. Day three of the 2016 World Championships in Clearwater, FL kicked off with a sunny, 4-8 knot variance giving everyone a sigh of relief and readiness.
The fleet rigged up and got after it early launching to make a 10am start. The breeze dropped quite a bit, but after one general recall, the fleets were able to begin their day. One race was sailed in a slowly dying 5-7 knots, but unfortunately a third of the fleets were DNF due to the almost non-existent pressure. Almost two hours later and the 49er gods finally answered the RC's prayers. A building sea breeze allowed the boys to sail three more races getting a total of four in before the ladies were sent out to reap the same wind benefits.
Burling and Tuke had once again a strong performance on the Yellow course, getting straight bullets, absolutely slaughtering competition. The boys were able to take switch gears effortlessly between conditions. “Four straight bullets in one day, don't think we ever have done that before, ” humbly remarked Blair Tuke. Both boys had some minor injuries from yesterdays blustery day, but from the looks of the results it would take a lot to stop these two!
The closest competitor from these two is none other than Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, their worthy Aussie opponent. Outteridge and Jensen sailed impressively consistent all day, yet the scoring showed their second race of the day as DNF. Outteridge and Jensen went straight to RC to fix this little issue, as they actually won that particular race. Ten points from the Kiwi's, these two boats haven't competed on the same course yet, but they already seem to be throwing down the gauntlet.
“We didn’t get a race in yesterday and today the conditions were really light. It’s a completely different game in the light air compared to the heavier conditions, but we take each day as it comes,” Iain Jensen said.
“The first race was really light and then it swung around and we got a light sea breeze for the rest of the day. We had a second, first, third and fourth and were just executing good starts, going the right way and the speed seemed pretty good,” he summed up the day.
“We seem to be going fast in the light stuff, which is an area we struggled in at the last Worlds. We’re expecting some of the same for tomorrow and the days after that are looking pretty good.”
John Pink and Stuart Bithel of team GBR have come out of the gate swinging. With the lowest score of the day being a 6th, these two consistently sailed their own race and were able to nab two 6th's, a 5th, and a 2nd.
The other top British boat of Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Alain Sign are also having quite the start sitting just three points behind Pink & Bithel. The British selection committee keeps things pretty well wrapped, but these two boats are definitely feeling the heat from one another's performances early on. “I think the pressures on the other guys. We are just focusing on our results and I guess we'll just see how it comes out getting to the end of the week,” says Alain Sign, cool as a cucumber.
Also on the Blue course with the Aussies, the French lead the pack with Julien D'ortoli and Noe Delpech sitting top of the pack after race two, but a 7th gave these two a bigger gap from the Aussies. D'ortoli and Delpech gave a consistent top seven performance throughout the four races leaving them sitting thirteen points out of first overall. Julien notes, “For us to switch modes [from yesterday's conditions] we try to re-focus. In strong winds, you just have to think about the speed, and the technique. Then in no wind its just, you think about which side, which start, it's just a really different mode.”
The French selection is also quite coy when it comes to selections as the sailors won't know who goes until the beginning of March, nor what regattas and performances they based their selection on.
Tomasz Januszewski and Jacek Nowak didn't have the best performance in the 2015 Worlds in Argentina, but they surely are starting out this 2016 Worlds on a better note. Currently sitting seventh overall (third for the Yellow course) Jacek is pleased with the way they've started their World Championship. “We are happy with the way we've started this regatta, in those locations, even if we had a bad start in the last race. Being on the right side of the last start was not the way to go. We are not calculating, but I know we are in a good position.”
Carlos Paz Blanco and Anton Paz of Spain have started their Worlds on the Yellow course and seem to be the comeback kids for Spanish sailing. The pair qualified Spain in Santander during the 2014 Worlds, but haven't been exactly hitting the same top performances as the Alonsos, and Diego Botin/Iago Lopez Marra. The Alonso's have a chance at taking the Spanish berth during this event by finishing in top eight to steal the show. The other two Spanish teams need to place within the top eight, or else the fight is terminado, aka all over.
“Right now we need to focus on medal race, and then in the medal race try to take a look at the points to see if we need to push more or its enough, ” says Anton. The brothers were pretty consistent until the third race of the day. Carlos makes note of the difficult conditions by stating, “The third one was really difficult for us; we made a bad decision at the start, but that was our throwout. The last one [fourth race of the day] we got pretty lucky. The right was really right, and we got a second, so we're pretty happy. Have to try to keep that up.”
Fx sailors had a postponement on shore until mid-afternoon, allowing the guys a bit of extra time to get some more racing in before the old switch-a-roo. The ladies were sent out at about 2pm for a 3pm start. The women were able to tune up and get their sea legs back after a wet and wild day. Wild this day was not, as the women had feel good FX conditions, flatter water and manageable breeze. Yay! The ladies were all smiles, and slightly less frozen than the previous day due to quick, efficient racing.
Swedish team Julia Gross and Cecilia Jonsson felt their day was up and down, but were pleased with getting four races in after a hard initial start to this 2016 Worlds. The team took a bit of dip in their scores when they took a 15th in the second race for the day. They felt even though this was the downer, the bullet at the end made up for the trickier conditions. “Everyone was up and down, but we had everyone behind us in the last race, so that felt pretty good.” Ending on a high, great job girls!
German sailors Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz are taking their FX fleet by the reigns and completely taking control. The pair didn't falter even as the breeze did vary several knots from the time the FX sailors got out to the courses to until the wee hours of daylight they had left to sail in. Two bullets to start the day, and then a 2nd and 5th to round out their epic start to this World Championship. There are three other German teams competing during this event. This regatta will be used to help determine selection. It may be chilly down in Clearwater, but the heat is on for the German FX girls!
Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth of team GBR also had a fiery day taking fourth place overall. The pair had a shaky start as they pulled a 19th to begin with. The two, although disappointed, are known for shaking it off and “putting on their Jagger pants,” as the girls said back in Argentina. “We just approached every race as if it was a new day. New race equals new opportunity,” replied Sophie Ainsworth after being asked how they approached the next set of races, winning them a bullet in race three of their set.
Rounding out the top five are 2014 World Champions Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze in fifth, along with recent Miami World Cup Champions Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech in fourth.
Of the Australians, Tess Lloyd and Caitlin Elks continue to perform best, sitting in 13th place, one ahead of Haylee Outteridge and Nina Curtis. Olivia Price and Liza Solly are 22nd.
49er Media with Australian content from Cora Zillich/AST.