Shenzhen Baoan, China (15 December 2023) – The third day of the 2023 WMRT Final in Shenzhen, China, turned into a stunning day for sailing despite a short postponement in the morning. With sunny skies and a soft breeze, the round-robin is nearly complete, with a few races left that will determine the fate of some teams hoping to advance into the quarter-finals.
Keeping up with his pace is Sweden’s Björn Hansen, who only has one loss to USA’s Chris Poole. Until today, Hansen was undefeated. With one race left in the round-robin, he is on top of the leaderboard with a score of 9-1. He is set to race against fellow Swede Johnie Berntsson.
Also with one race left to go is Switerzland’s Eric Monnin, who is sitting just behind Hansen with a score of 7-3. Monnin’s Capvis Swiss Match Racing, with crew of Simon Brügger, Marc Monnin, Jean-Claude Monnin, and Hugo Feydit, is the only team this week sailing with five crew members; the rest of the fleet is sailing with four.
Monnin’s success wasn’t off the start line. He explains, “We were able to overtake around the course. I can’t remember many starts that we won, so it really comes down to crew work.”
Their strategy became different when they continued to start behind, “Normally, you could see the pressure, but as we were behind off the start, our strategy was simply not to lose too much.” Monnin recounts their error in the race against Johnie Berntsson, who was leading with a penalty to kill, “That’s what we did wrong with Johnie. We gave him too much of a split and leverage. Because he had a penalty, we were close enough that he couldn’t do it, but then we opened the door for him. It can happen very fast.”
Just down the leaderboard, there are four teams with six wins. USA’s Chris Poole and Gavin Brady both have finished their round robins with a 6-5 score, while New Zealand’s Nick Egnot-Johnson has one more race to complete the round robin, and GBR’s Ian Williams has two, which puts them both in a position to secure more wins. Regardless, the two teams can feel comfortable looking forward to quarter-finals.
Williams and his Chinaone.Ningbo team are getting settled in the Far East 28Rs as they won a few crucial races today.
“We’re getting a little bit more into our stride. It’s hard with these big gennakers and not being able to see well downwind, so we’re working on our communication to get on the same page and see the bigger picture,” commented Williams.
Their win against Brady proved enough that their crew work and understanding of the shifts are coming together. With an OCS and a penalty, they managed to work their way back for the win. With their advancement into the quarter-finals, Williams is looking forward to a change in conditions.
Williams said, “We expect more breeze tomorrow, so it will be all change. We have to reset, learn the new conditions, as everyone has, and go from there.”
Egnot-Johnson’s KNOTS Racing is through to the quarter-finals with a score of 6-4, with one more race to go against fellow Kiwi Megan Thomson. Egnot-Johnson has proved consistent throughout the regatta but was reminded how quickly things can change in his race against Williams.
“It was super close with China One Ningbo with a lot of passing going on, but ultimately, we missed one puff on the second beat, and that was enough to decide the race. The racing is very challenging but super rewarding when we can link together a few good shifts,” Egnot-Johnson recalls.
Looking further down the leaderboard is where things could get interesting. Depending on the final results of the round-robin’s last flights tomorrow, some exciting tie-breakers could emerge. Winning the matches will be crucial for teams, especially for those who are fighting for survival, where a single win could keep them in the competition.
For Kiwi-flagged Megan Thomson, Denmark’s Jeppe Borch, and Italy’s Rocco Attili, it is all to play for, and a win is absolutely vital. Depending on finishes tomorrow morning, the last teams into the quarter-finals could be decided on countbacks and tie-breakers!
Before racing started this morning, students from Shenzhen Baoan Haile Experimental School stopped by to meet the WMRT skippers and see the Far East 28R boats as they were being rigged on the waterfront. With China’s growth in the sport of sailing, having the next generation stop by was a treat for everyone.
Tomorrow will see the completion of the qualifying round-robin before continuing onto the Quarter finals, where the top eight teams will race for Semi-finals.
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