The Brazilians in the 49erFX have shown remarkable consistency throughout the week, although even Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze put a slight blot on their pristine copybook with a 12th in the middle of three races on Friday.
Their other scores were a fifth and a seventh, however, which means the reigning Olympic champions continue to hold a healthy 14-point lead over the second-placed team, reigning world champions Annemiek Bekkering/Annette Duetz (NED).
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech rebounded from a disappointing opening day to Gold fleet racing with scores of 3,1,12, which lifts the New Zealanders to third place, displacing the British by a single point.
After suffering a UFD disqualification the previous day for starting a fraction too early, Charlotte Dobson/Saskia Tidey (GBR) will have to carry all their scores from today, 10,23,3.
The Brits will have to keep a close eye on the chasing Norwegians and defending European champions, Helene Næess/Marie Rønningen, whose 4,4,6 scores were the most consistent of the day. The only other crew to keep all their results inside the top 10 were last year’s Junior world champions, Vilma Bobeck/Malin Tengstrom, who are sixth overall after today’s solid scores of 8,3,9.
While all the teams ahead of them are seen regularly on the podium of major 49erFX regattas, the young Swedes are looking more and more comfortable competing alongside the world’s best.
Today’s conditions out in Weymouth Bay were stronger than forecast, and as yet the sailors have hardly had to bend their legs. The forecast continues to predict a much lighter concluding weekend which could shake up the pack. Whether or not that is sufficient to threaten the Brazilian lead, however, we’ll have to wait and see.
49er Men: A Random Day in the Bay
Conditions for the 49er Gold fleet were full power all day, 10 to 14 knots of easterly breeze out in Weymouth Bay. However, there were significant lines of gust and lull across the lumpy course, with a few wind shifts thrown in for good measure.
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke managed to negotiate the pot holes with a very solid 6,4,2, which moves them back into the lead, seven points ahead of the Spanish, Diego Botin and Iago Lopez, who scored 8,12,6.
“We were starting well,” Botin said, “but sometimes a good start put you in the wrong place and we didn’t feel that lucky today. Still happy with how we sailed though. It’s very hard to be consistent all the time.”
Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell had one of the best days of anyone, 4,7,1, putting the third-placed British team further ahead of the chasing pack and just five points behind the Spaniards. In fourth is another British crew, James Peters/Fynn Sterritt who are plugging away with some very solid scores of 2,14,5.
However, it was the experienced German crew, Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel, who had the best of the day with 5,1,4. It moves the 2016 Olympic bronze medallists to just 4 points behind the fellow Germans and training partners, Justus Schmidt/Max Boeme. Erwan Fischer/Clément Pequin (FRA) were the other race winners of the day and move into ninth overall.
The top-performing crew of the previous day was Sebastien Schneiter/Lucien Cujean who slipped down to 10th after a disappointing day. But the conditions are forecast to turn a little more ‘Swiss’, with lighter winds on the cards which could suit this team and others that are more used to the softer end of the wind spectrum.
Nacra 17: Danes on a roll – champs snap back
The Nacra gold fleet held the inner harbor for today’s morning racing, and with the brisk north-easterly breeze filling in overnight, the course would emerge as a tricky test of three-lap racing for the catamaran sailors.
The Danish team Cenholt/Lubeck held second going into the morning, after a stellar first day of Gold fleet racing where they’d scored a 3,2,1. They continued their run with a spectacular first race, starting near the pin, nailing the port layline and rounding the top mark first to run away with the win and into the overall lead.
GBR showed the depth of their squad with Rashley/Giovanetti winning the pin to round out second at the top, though they slipped to fifth by race end. Regatta leaders GBR’s Gimson/Burnett and third placed ITA’s Tita/Banti both faltered, scoring 23rd and 13th respectively, but four races meant the first gold fleet drop came into play.
The second race of the day had more mixing up of the fleet as well as the wind strength. A huge call at the start had the Germans Polgar/Werner port tack the fleet to head out right, but the top left paid off for FRA’s Vaireaux/Ancian, who had come into the day in 20th position. They led for most of the race before slipping to the Italians Tita/Banti after a split on the second upwind.
The tradeoff of the left positioning on the race course versus the bad air of the spinnakers had gone in favor of the Italians, who had split right at the bottom mark, and into the lead for the race, and then the regatta, as behind them Cenholt/Gimson finished 14th and 15th across the line.
The Aussies showed their squad can still perform, even without Jason Waterhouse/Lisa Darmanin, with Darmanin’s brother Paul taking third, and the Outteridges finishing fourth.
In the final race of the day, the Italians proved they’re the team to beat, solidifying their previous win with another solid start in the middle and another well executed upwind to round the top mark first and never look back.
The Brits looked like they had a full squad game plan of heading left, with three of their boats fighting for the pin and Saxton/Boniface winning the inter-country battle, rounding the top mark second and maintaining to the finish. Gimson/Burnet steadily climbed back through the fleet to secure third for the race, thus stemming the bleeding to drop only to third overall.
A three point spread this morning from first to third has shuffled positions and become a 14 point spread, but as we saw today anything can happen out on this race course, and every team can perform well in races out there.
Nacra 17 Top 5
1 ITA Ruggero Tita, Caterina Banti 31
2 DEN Lin Cenholt, CP Lubeck 36
3 GBR John Gimson, Anna Burnett 44
4 ARG Mateo Majdalani, Eugenia Bosco 52
5 GBR Ben Saxton, Nicola Boniface 56
49erFX Top 5
1 BRA Martine Grael, Kahena Kunze 33
2 NED Annemiek Bekkering, Annette Duetz 47
3 NZL Alex Maloney, Molly Meech 57
4 GBR Charlotte Dobson, Saskia Tidey 58
5 NOR Helene Næss, Marie Rønningen 65
49er Top 5
1 NZL Peter Burling, Blair Tuke 42
2 ESP Diego Botin, Iago Marra 48
3 GBR Dylan Fletcher, Stu Bithell 53
4 GER Justus Schmidt, Max Boeme 68
5 GBR James Peters, Fynn Sterritt 72
Full results and other information: https://49er.org/event/2019-european-championship/