Launching off the beach into the warm azure waters off Haifa Bay, the 2015 470 World Championships got underway today in Israel.
The 470 Men were split into yellow and blue fleets for 3 races, with the 470 Women contesting 2 races in a single fleet. Weather conditions were perfect with a clear blue sky and 13-15 knots of breeze, and big rolling waves. The left consistently paid, with teams choosing this side repeatedly popping out in front by the first mark.
Start as you mean to go on was clearly the motto for defending World Champions Mat Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS) in the yellow fleet, scoring a hat trick of wins – three in a row – to make a perfect opening day. Game plan here for Belcher/Ryan is to defend their World Championship title. A win in the bag would make it three in a row for the team, and Belcher’s sixth successive World title, having won three previous Championships with former crew Malcolm Page.
Keeping to past form of scoring three wins in a row at every World Championship contested, Belcher was delighted to deliver the results early on in his third World Championship defence with Ryan.
“I didn’t realise we had done the three wins at each World Championship before,” laughed Ryan, who hadn’t appreciated their score line history.“Mat had to remind me it is a bit of his tradition. That is a good omen I suppose. We are happy as it was pretty tricky out there today, with very variable pressure which was really challenging.”
Three firsts don’t come easy, as Belcher explained, “It was a little bit of a fight back. One of the races we had a really good start and extended really well. We had a really good rhythm together. One race we had a terrible start and were quite lucky as we took a fair bit of risk and it really paid off for us. So I guess it was a bit of a mix today. We feel very happy as it could very easily have been three mediocre races as it was that kind of day.”
Luke Patience/Elliot Willis (GBR) end the day in second, with Stuart McNay/David Hughes (USA) in third.
Early days, but impossible to resist scanning down the leaderboard to see which nations have made an early challenge for one of the six Olympic places on offer here. Right now, the results as of today would put Germany, Finland, Turkey, Korea, Argentina, and Israel on target. Tomorrow will be decisive, with 2 races to complete the qualification series and decide the 30 teams advancing to gold, with the remaining 29 racing in silver fleet. Inevitably, the nations in contention for Olympic qualification will narrow down and some possibly even decided.
There are 6 Olympic Qualification places on offer for the 470 Men with 16 nations in contention: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa and Turkey.
The 470 Men Yellow and Blue fleets will have two races on Tuesday 13 October with a scheduled start of 1300 hours.
470 Men Results after 3 Races
1. Mathew Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS 11) – 2 pts
2. Luke Patience/Elliot Willis (GBR 868) – 3 pts
3. Stuart McNay/David Hughes (USA 1713) – 5 pts
4. Johan Molund/Sebastian Östling (SWE 348) – 5 pts
5. Matthias Schmid/Florian Reichstaedter (AUT 3) – 6 pts
6. Ferdinand Gerz/Oliver Szymanski (GER 10) – 6 pts
7. Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO 83) – 7 pts
8. Jordi Xammar/Joan Herp (ESP 44) – 7 pts
9. Anton Dahlberg/Fredrik Bergstrom (SWE 349) – 8 pts
10. Joonas Lindgren/Niklas Lindgren (FIN 7) – 8 pts
In what was a surprise performance to the team themselves, Poland’s Agnieszka Skrzypulec/Irmina Mrozek Gliszczynska scored back to back wins.
“We were shocked actually,” exclaimed Skrzypulec . “I think this is the most beautiful day in our sailing career. Winning two races at a World Championship is an amazing feeling. After the finish of race one, we were a little bit shocked and nervous and we were tingly over our bodies. But in the second race we were calmer. These kind of days make it wonderful to be at a World Championship and it makes all the training worth it.”
Time spent on the water here in Haifa has certainly helped. The team spent a week in Haifa in early September, before going home and winning the Polish 470 Nationals and returning to Israel just before the Israeli 470 Nationals.
The secret of their success was boat speed, as Skrzypulec explained. “Somehow it was really easy for me to see the windshifts, and we had really good boat speed and could follow them. So it made a big difference for us and we were really calm. We had really good starts so used our good speed to just catch boats on each leg.”
CamilleLecointre/Helene Defrance (FRA) are in second, with Great Britain’s Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark in third.
In fourth overall are defending World Champions Lara Vadlau/Jola Ogar, who were suffering from illness today. The pair battled through, but by the final race Ogar was losing out to her cold and fever, so relief to score a 6,8 card.
“We would like to finally sail a good regatta again after my second injury it hasn't been going that well like last yet,” said Vadlau. “We also had lots of material problems, but slowly slowly we are starting to find our perfect set up again. We also changed coach, we are trying to find a better balance, so we will see how it is going.”
An inconsistent day for many of the top teams who scored a banker and what will become their discard after tomorrow’s race 3. With a double digit score in the bag early on, there is little margin for error and the pressure increases.
The opening of the Worlds was significant day for local star Gil Cohen, as the date marked exactly a year to the day she suffered a major road accident, which forced her out of the boat until May this year. Today Cohen and crew Danielle Maman took to the waters off Haifa to start the race series of their lives, as they seek to qualify Israel to Rio 2016. The day wasn’t quite what they planned, with two 18th place finishes.
“It was a bad day,” said Cohen. “Both starts we gave way to all the boats on starboard and we started last. It was very hard to accelerate through.”
With just 3 Olympic qualification places on offer and 13 nations in the running, every single point is crucial. They will be one of many teams looking for incremental gains in every race as the brutal battle for Olympic qualification unfolds.
Forced off the race track after an incident with a port tack boat sees China’s Xiaoli Wang/Lizhu Huang are languishing at the back of the fleet. The pair has been awarded redress, so will receive average points for the day’s races, based on their results in the remaining the series.
In the 470 Women, 13 nations are gunning for 3 Olympic Qualification places: Australia, Canada, Chile, Spain, Finland, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland and Turkey.
The 470 Women fleet will race two races on Tuesday, with a scheduled start after the 470 Men.
470 Women Results after 2 Races
1. Agnieszka Skrzypulec/Irmina Mrozek Gliszczynska (POL 11) – 2 pts
2. Camille Lecointre/Helene Defrance (FRA 9) – 8 pts
3. Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR 118) – 14 pts
4. Lara Vadlau/Jolanta Ogar (AUT 431) – 14 pts
5. Anne Haeger/Briana Provancha (USA 1712) – 15 pts
6. Annika Bochmann/Marlene Steinherr (GER 72) – 16 pts
7. Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL 75) – 19 pts
8. Xiaomei Xu/Ping Zhang (CHN 616) – 26 pts
9. Carrie Smith/Jaime Ryan (AUS 99) – 28 pts
10. Shasha Chen/Haiyan Gao (CHN 619) – 29 pts
470 World Championship Format
Racing gets underway on Monday 12 October, with a qualifying and final series for the 470 Men who will be split into two fleets for the 11 races followed by the Medal Race for the top ten teams. The 470 Women will race a single series of 10 races before the top ten advance to the Medal Race on Saturday 17 October.
“This was a great way to start our defence”, Mat Belcher said. “There are still a lot of races to go but it certainly gives us confidence in the way we are sailing. We are enjoying the conditions and looking forward to tomorrow's final qualifying races. We just tried to stay out of trouble and sail our own race. We managed to do that today and we hope we can continue the same for tomorrow (Tuesday, October 13, 2015).”
The pair has made it clear that they are out to win this World Championship, but what looked like an easy run on day one was also the result of hard, consistent work as crew Will Ryan explained: “We had a good first day. Actually it was quite tricky, and the results may not be a true indication for how hard we were having to fight. But we are very happy to come away from the first day like this – obviously not much more we could have asked for results wise; however also pleasing that it felt we are sailing well and slowly becoming more familiar with the intricacies of the venue.”
And about the conditions he added: “It’s great to be able to race in warm water with short sleeve rash vests; but the heat and the salty water certainly takes it out of you on a day like today with big waves. No doubt it will be a long week – but looking forward to it!”
A total of three Australian Sailing men’s crews and two Australian Sailing women’s crews are currently competing in Haifa from 12-17 October.
Patrick and Alexander Conway (NSW) finished day one ranked 34th overall with Angus Galloway (QLD) and Joshua Dawson (NSW) following in 36th.
In the Women’s 470 Australian Sailing Squad’s Carrie Smith (WA) and Jaime Ryan (QLD) are back in the boat after extended medical issues sidelined Carrie Smith over the last few months and had a strong come-back posting a 17th and 11th moving them into ninth overall. Sasha Ryan (QLD) and Amelia Catt (TAS) complete the Australian contingent in the 42-boat women’s fleet and finished the first day ranked 32nd.