Quan Cardi and Mattia Tognocchi were the first sailors to secure their place at the top of the podium at the Youth Sailing World Championships, as they gained an unassailable lead in the 420 male/mixed class.
The Italians continued their fine form in Buzios to give themselves a nine-point cushion ahead of Friday’s final race.
Elsewhere, Sarah Jannin and Fleur Babin (FRA) guaranteed themselves at least a silver medal in the 29er female with a pair of bullets and will battle it out for gold with Ewa Lewandowska and Julia Maria Żmudzińska (POL) on Friday.
Roos Wind (NED), Kristyna Pinosova (CZE), and Stanisław Trepczyński (POL) all climbed to the top of their classes with plenty still to be decided on the final day of sailing.
Quan Cardi and Mattia Tognocchi (ITA) sealed victory in the 420 male/mixed class with a race to spare, despite bullets going elsewhere.
The Italian pair hold a nine-point advantage at the top of the standings with just one race remaining after posting finishes of second and fourth on Thursday.
“I don’t have any words,” said Tognocchi. “I am so happy.”
“We are really very happy,” added Cardi. “Every day we are focused so that every day we are winning races.”
They were pipped to victory in the opening race of the day by Henry Heathcote and Oscar Cawthorne (GBR), who earned their first race victory of the competition, with Zou Schemmel and Jean-Philippe Boudard (FRA) third.
The French duo then took victory in the final race of the day, finishing ahead of Heathcote and Cawthorne, and Lysander Winter and Constantin Bötsch (GER).
Schemmel and Boudard sit comfortably second overall, 13 points ahead of Miguel Angel Morales Hernandez and Alejandro Martin (ESP).
The Spaniards face a battle for bronze on the final day, with Lucas Cocchi Kubelka de Freitas and Victória Kubelka de Carlos Back (BRA) and Joe Leith and Joshua Ferrissey (NZL) hot on their heels.
Sarah Jannin and Fleur Babin (FRA) won both races in the 29er female class to close the gap at the top of the standings.
The French pair sealed bullets on both outings to move 10 points behind leaders Ewa Lewandowska and Julia Maria Żmudzińska (POL), who have sat in first place overall for the entire competition so far.
Jannin and Babin sealed victory in the opening race of the day ahead of Malika Bellomi and Beatrice Conti (ITA) and Lucy Leith and Chloe Turner (NZL), before backing that up with another victory, finishing in front of Bellomi and Conti and Marleen Huisman and Anne de Kort (NED).
“It was wonderful on the water,” said Babin. “I had a really nice day. Tomorrow we hope we can do the same as today.
“We are going to do everything to win and find the last energy in us to win.”
ILCA 6 Female
Roos Wind (NED) took victory in both ILCA 6 female races to lead the competition heading into the final race on Friday.
Wind followed on from a bullet in the final race on Wednesday to make it three on the spin and give herself a small two-point cushion with one race remaining.
The Dutch sailor edged Petra Marendic (CRO) and Sienna Wright (IRL) in the first race of the day before also beating Adriana Castro Nuñez (ESP) and Annalise Balasubramanian (CAN) in the second.
“It was really fun,” said Wind. “It started with 14-15 knots and then building to 20 and for me it was just about having a good start and pushing as hard as I could.
“I ended up winning by a lot so it was really fun racing today.”
It sets up an enthralling prospect heading into the final race, with just four points separating the top four sailors.
Wind sits two points ahead of previous overnight leader Emma Mattivi (ITA), with Marendic a point behind in third and Wright a further point back in fourth.
Kristyna Pinosova (CZE) hauled herself back atop the iQFOiL female standings ahead of the final day of racing.
Pinosova finished third and second in the day’s opening two races, with a finish of 10th in the last race unable to dent her commanding lead from Carola Colasanto (ITA).
Colasanto led overnight but was unable to stay at the summit after a pair of 12th-placed finishes either side of an 11th-place.
The opening bullet went to Emma Viktoria Millend (EST), who finished ahead of Lina Erzen (SLO) before the Slovenian won the final two races to move up to third overall, two points ahead of Darcy Shaw (GBR).
Stanisław Trepczyński (POL) edged into a four-point lead in the iQFOiL male class after opening the day with a bullet.
The Pole came into Thursday’s races tied at the top with Leonardo Tomasini (ITA) but now has his neck in front despite a 24th-place finish in the day’s second race.
Trepczyński rounded the day off with a third place to ensure he would lead the way heading into the final day, after Tomasini could only finish second and fourth, both times directly behind his rival.
Both of the other two races were won by Gur Prag (ISR), with Noé Garandeau (FRA) second in race 14 to ensure he sits comfortably in third overall.
Formula Kite Female
Derin Atakan (TUR) took bullets in all four races in the Formula Kite female class to move into a four-point lead in the standings ahead of the final day of racing.
Atakan beat closest challenger Catalina Turienzo (ARG) into second on all four occasions to take a narrow advantage into Friday’s races.
The pair look set to battle it out for gold, with both comfortably ahead of Mika Kafri (ISR), who finished third in all races on Thursday.
ILCA 6 Male
Mattia Cesana (ITA) maintained his grip on the ILCA 6 male class ahead of the final race of the competition on Friday.
Cesana extended his lead to 14 points despite an 11th-place finish in the opening race which was won by Luka Zabukovec (SLO) ahead of Anton Messeritsch (AUT) and Boris Hirtsch (SUI).
The Italian responded with a third-place finish in the second and final race, with Felipe Mallmann Fraquelli (BRA) clinching victory and João Pontes (POR) in second.
That result sees Pontes third overall, six points behind Zabukovec, and tied on points with Hidde Schraffordt (NED).
Marie Mazuay and Clément Guignard (SUI) won both races in the Nacra 15 class to move 11 points off the summit.
The Swiss pair have now won three of the last four races, with two more still remaining, as they close in on the medal positions.
The gold medal spot is still held by Cody Roe and Brooke Mertz (USA), whose lead is now just two points from Daniel and Nora Garcia de la Casa (ESP) after finishing eighth and seventh respectively on Thursday.
Their Spanish rivals largely failed to capitalise but did close the gap thanks to finishes of third and sixth but both boats will now be looking over their shoulders at the resurgent Swiss.
Mazuay and Guignard took their first bullet ahead of Sam Cox and Sophie Raven (GBR) before edging Manoarii Plichart and Juliette Zimmermann (TAH) in the second.
Formula Kite Male
Max Maeder (SGP) was unable to seal gold in the Formula Kite male class despite winning three of the four races on Thursday.
Maeder has led the way throughout the competition with 13 bullets in a row but a 13th-place finish in race 14 meant he was unable to wrap up victory on Thursday.
Instead, Qibin Huang (CHN) took victory in the final race of the day with Gian-Andrea Stragiotti (SUI) second and Lucas Pes Fonseca (BRA) third.