Light winds cause postponement at Rio test event

For Rio de Janeiro's thousands of tourists, Monday 4 August was the perfect day with a beating Brazilian sun, clear South American skies and the occasional gust of light breeze to cool down bathers on Copacabana Beach.

Unfortunately, for the 324 sailors from 34 countries it was not perfect conditions for sailboat racing at the Aquece Rio – International Sailing Regatta 2014 as light winds forced the Race Committee to cancel all the day's racing by 16:00.

The 49er fleet were rigged and ready first up as the Race Committee called them onto the water. It turned out to be a short lived trip as New Zealand's Blair Tuke explained, “We went out to try and get some racing in at about one and the wind was still blowing from the north west direction. It was really light and a bit all over the place and the Race Committee really struggled to get a race away but we went out there and gave it a try.”

Despite a lack of competition on race day two Tuke is happy with the time put in to learning the Rio race course. Tuke concluded, “We've been here for a couple of weeks and it's been great. There are a lot of challenges with the current and different wind conditions but we're really enjoying our time here.”

Light winds were predicted for the second day of racing with a maximum of 10 knots on the cards if the breeze played ball. The wind failed to materialise and the decision to cancel the Laser, Laser Radial and 470 fleets, who were scheduled to race on outside courses Copacabana and Niterói, was made at 14:50.

Fleets racing on the inside courses – Ponte, Escola Naval and Pão de Açucar – were cancelled shortly afterwards to bring an early close to race day two.

The third day of racing will see a cold front pass through Rio de Janeiro that will bring showers, stronger breeze and an increase in wave size. Having lost a day of racing the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 will sail four races whilst the remaining fleets will sail three races on Tuesday with the action set to commence at the earlier time of 11:30.

The state of play remains the same in the Finn and Men's and Women's RS:X with Dorian van Rijsselberge (NED) and Charline Picon (FRA) atop of their windsurfing fleets and Brazil's Jorge Zarif (BRA) in pole position in the heavyweight dinghy. The remaining fleets will sail their first race on Tuesday.

 
Report from first day:
 
Men's RS:X

London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Dorian van Rijsselberge (NED) was in scintillating form in the 28-boat Men's RS:X fleet and took both the day's race victories.

Racing on Pão de Açúcar the Dutchman read the conditions perfectly to lead Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) who sits second on five points following a 2-3.

On the course the Dutchman said, “We were on one of the inside courses and close to Flamengo Beach. There's a little bit more breeze towards the middle of the bay so I just tried to find the breeze and go fast.

“It's not too crazy. The wind was light'ish so it was tricky but still fun and plenty of opportunities.

“You have to put a lot of work into racing. There's a lot of pumping but once you pump it pays off if you go the right way so it's key.”

With 28 racers on the water it's not far off the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition fleet size. In two years' time 36 racers will take to water and van Rijsselberge is enjoying the similarities, “We have a really nice fleet here. That's the biggest plus. Everybody is here and it's a strong field. I think it's a really good test. We have the top ten from the last World Championship so it's a high quality. That shows that everybody wants to see how it is and try to get the best out of it.”

Rio de Janeiro provides a beautiful backdrop to the fleets and the Dutchman enjoys his surroundings, “It's nice to have two big monuments here. The Sugarloaf is a little bit in the way, it stops the breeze,” smiled Van Rijsselberge. “But it's interesting and we're enjoying it. The scenery is really nice.”

Women's RS:X

Charline Picon (FRA) imitated Dorian van Rijsselberge's (NED) performance by taking both bullets in the Women's RS:X.

Picon has Rio experience under her belt and used the information she's gathered on the opening day to lead Maayan Davidovich (ISR) by three points.

“The first race I had a very bad start but I finished first so I'm very happy,” beamed Picon. “I had a good downwind and good tactics. In the second I didn't have a good start but I had a good battle at the top and finished second behind Marina [Alabau].

“We've had a good time here and came here last year and we were here in the winter and it's very pleasant for competing. It's nice to have Sugarloaf and everything around us.”

Brazil's Patricia Freitas recorded two fourth places and is third overall on eight points.

Finn

Brazil's Jorge Zarif used his knowledge of Guanabara Bay to his advantage on the opening day of Finn racing as he took a bullet and a second.

The 21-year-old first took to the bay when he was seven years and having trained regularly inside and outside of the bay he came to the forefront on the opening day.

“It was a good day,” said Zarif, 2013 Finn World Champion. “I've sailed here since I was seven in the Optimist but seriously I've been training here a lot for the last four or five years. Especially in the Naval School Course because it's the one we will use more but we always sail by the bridge and outside.”

Seventeen Finns will mix up racing on the Ponte course which is inside the bay and Niteroi, outside of the bay. Rio 2016 will see 23 take to water and Zarif is relishing racing in conditions that will be present in 2016, “I like the fleet size because the Olympics will be like this. It's close to what we will have and normally I don't have good starts in big fleets so for me it's better to have fewer boats.”

Ed Wright (GBR) sits second overall on six points with Race 2 winner Giles Scott (GBR) third overall. 

 
– ISAF
M.O.S.S Australia
Listings Added
Multihull Group
M.O.S.S Australia
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey
West System Afloat