Strong start by Italian duo at Allianz Sailing World Championships

Issued on behalf of: World Sailing

The Allianz World Sailing Championships got off to a flying start in The Hague with strong Italian, American and Spanish showings.

Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti caught the eye with three bullets in the Nacra 17, while in the 49er, there were two wins apiece for Diego Botin and Florian Trittel (ESP) and Nevin Snow and Mac Agnese (USA).

Elsewhere, there were some surprise results in the Mixed 470 and 49erFX classes, while Betsy Alison’s strong start in the Women’s Hansa 303 was one of the stories of the day.

Nacra 17
Olympic champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti arrived in The Hague having seen compatriots Gianluigi Ugolini and Maria Giubilei take victory in the Olympic Test Event last month.

They used day one in the Netherlands as the chance to underline their status as the pair to beat however, winning all three races in the yellow fleet, the perfect start of the defence of the title they won last year in St. Margarets Bay, Canada.

Almost as impressive in the blue fleet were German duo Paul Kohlhoff and Alica

Stuhlemmer, who won the second and third races of the day to match Tita and Banti on two points after day one.

John Gimson and Anna Burnet, the Olympic silver medallists and 2020 and 2021 world champions, also enjoyed a strong start, with a pair of second place finishes behind Tita and Banti, to sit third.

Diego Botin and Florian Trittel have not quite hit the heights so far in 2023, but they got off to a strong start in the 49er class on day one.

Bullets in the first two races were followed by a fifth in the blue fleet that puts the Spaniards in a good position.

And with the unique challenges that come in Scheveningen, with the strong currents, their success was in large part down to their ability to adapt to the conditions.

Botin said: “What makes the biggest difference at this race area in The Hague is the current. We have had two, almost three knots of current which is something we almost never see in the 49er at least. It’s changing a lot of strategy for the race. We managed to adapt to it quite well to it today and had a really good beginning.”

In the yellow fleet, there was a fine turnaround from Nevin Snow and Mac Agnese, who finished 18th in the first heat but bounced back well with two wins to match Botin and Trittel on the leaderboard.

However, with just five points separating the top ten, it remains incredibly tight, with world champions Bart Lambriex and Floris van de Werken lurking in seventh after a win in the opening race of the yellow fleet.

Mixed 470
There was Asian dominance on the first day of the Mixed 470, with Japanese and Chinese crews sharing the top four spots.

Keiju Okada and Miho Yoshioka (JPN) lead the way on five points after a bullet and a fourth place in the blue fleet, while Wenju Dong and Jingsa Wang (CHN) were the best of the yellow fleet and sit second on eight points.

Their compatriots Ming Xu and Yahan Tu won the second race in the blue fleet to sit third, with Ai Kondo Yoshida and Yugo Yoshida (JPN) joining them on 11 points.

Explaining their strong start, Okada said: “We kept focused on the current all the way through, and with a different current on the right and left side, we needed to keep watching the pressure all the time.”

There is nothing to split the top three in the 49erFX after three heats on day one, with Vilma Bobeck and Rebecca Netzler (SWE), last year’s silver medallists, part of the leading group.

The Swedes were the best of the blue fleet and finished the day on three points, a total matched by Isaura Maenhaut and Anouk Geurts (BEL) and Olivia Price and Evie Haseldine (AUS) in the yellow fleet.

Price, a London 2012 silver-medallist, was thrilled to hit the ground running. She said: “We wanted to nail some starts, which is something that we have been working on, especially from the Test event, where we were not as confident. The first day of Worlds you have to take it as it comes. Putting it all together today, we’re happy to have some good results and to be working together as a team quite well. We’re happy with our day.”

Reigning world champions Odile van Aanholt and Annette Duetz were happy just to make it onto the water after a recent training injury threatened their participation in the regatta.

Wearing a knee brace, Duetz eased her way into the competition and regained some confidence on the boat. Although they sit outside the top ten, the Dutch were relieved to have finished the day just seven points back from the leaders.

Van Aanholt said: “Unfortunately last week during training we had a crash and Annette injured herself. It was a big push to get to the start line today so we are very grateful to the team around us.”

Duetz added: “We were training up here last week when it was 20-25 knots, it gets quite rough. During a capsize, I tried to get over the boat but I fell on the centreboard and injured my knee. There was a lot of pain and it didn’t feel that good. So to be here racing is already a relief and a big step for us.”

Women’s Hansa 303
The remarkable Betsy Alison (USA) leads the way in the Women’s Hansa 303 after a perfect opening day, winning both races to top the leaderboard.

Her closest challenger is currently Poland’s Olga Gornas-Grudzien, who sits three points back.

Men’s Hansa 303
Gornas-Grudzien has been training closely alongside Piotr Cichocki and the duo both appear to be in form, with the Polish sailor starting competition strongly with a win and a second place in the Men’s 303 Hansa.

That was enough to edge ahead of Takumi Niwa, victorious in the second heat to sit one point back on four.

2.4 Norlin OD
Germany’s Heiko Kroger came into the 2.4 Norlin OD as the favourite and lived up to that billing on day one with two bullets.

A nine-time world champion, Kroger laid down a marker by winning both heats, getting the better of Davide di Maria (ITA) on each occasion.

RS Venture Keel
Last, but not least, in the RS Venture Keel, French pair Ange Margaron and Olivier Ducruix took both wins in the yellow fleet to lead the way.

They are one point clear of Portugal’s Pedro Reis and Guilherme Ribeiro in the blue fleet with Daniel Amiguet and Philippe Echivard (SUI) another point back as the top three have opened up a small lead at this early stage.

Audiences around the world can follow the action on the World Sailing YouTube Channel, the Olympic Channel, and broadcasters on every continent. Check local listings for more information. Race tracking will also be provided by SAP Sailing Analytics.

Full coverage of the 2023 Allianz Sailing World Championships, The Hague, is available through World Sailing’s dedicated event website.

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