On one of the most difficult course areas in Enoshima, Turkey’s Alican Kaynar made a perfect start to his third Olympic Games with two bullets, followed by Hungary’s Zsombor Berecz who picked up two second places while Spain’s Joan Cardona, ended with two third places.
A change in the air was forecast for Tuesday and with overnight rain and a rapidly closing in, but downgraded typhoon, it was not going to be the easiest of days on the water. Heavy clouds, with intermittent sunshine, provided the ever-present threat of rain, while an early moderate to strong offshore gradient wind that gradually died off produced shifty and puffy racing conditions kept everything open until the finish line.
For the Finn class, tucked up under the land on the Kamakura course area, it was a difficult day of two distinct halves. The first race was sailed with the top mark under the cliff and was a real case of snakes and ladders on speed. Then after more than two hours waiting, the wind spun through 180 to set up a great second race in a solid onshore breeze.
In Race 1 the left side appeared favoured on the first upwind with Brazil’s Jorge Zarif leading round from Cardona and Kaynar. During the next three laps, pretty much everything changed. The snakes were particularly slippery, while the ladders had found second gear. Several boats found themselves at the front and back on successive legs.
However it’s where you finish that matters and Kaynar made the best of the final upwind and a huge wet shift to the right to round first and lead down to the finish while many front runners got stuck on the left. Berecz ground out second place after a sailing most of the race in the top six, while Cardona lost a bit but managed to hang onto third.
Several of the favourites were deep, never recovering from the first upwind. The Netherland’s Nicholas Heiner got stuck on the right on the first upwind and never quite got back into it, though he did take six places on the final downwind.
Britain’s defending Olympic Champion, Giles Scott, sailed the race mid-fleet and never broke through, while 2019 world champion, Josh Junior, from New Zealand, took a penalty turn on the first beat and never really recovered.
By the time the last boat finished the wind had all but been sucked away, presumably by the approaching scaled down typhoon. After a small shower the skies cleared and a new breeze started to develop from the land.
However out to sea the dark ominous clouds remained so it was never looking particularly long lasting. It gradually shifted round to the left and one attempt to start was made before another huge left shift.
By then things had settled down and after the course was reset again, Race 2 got underway in 10-12 knots with free pumping throughout. Cardona, the youngest sailor in the fleet, was in charge from the first mark, building a nice lead from Kaynar and Argentina’s Facundo Olezza. That’s how it stayed for the next two laps and with the final round made shorter, Cardona seemed to be heading for the win.
However the onshore breeze had caused the waves to build to allow for surfing, and Kaynar and Berecz found some extra speed to pass the Spaniard for a repeat 1,2,3 from the first race.
Kaynar said his goal for the day was to be consistent. “…and I think I managed to be consistent today. The two races were quite difficult, but very different. The first one was about seeing the wind but in the second the downwind was important. It’s going to be a long regatta and I think we are going to have a bit of everything so we need to be good in all conditions.”
Anders Pedersen, from Norway had an up and down day.
“The first race was a bit casino. It was straight under the cliff so it was very shifty, gusty, patchy, everything at the top there. I had a good start but managed to get myself into a bad rhythm and got knocked out by a bunch of others. I finished second last I think. I had a good second round and then a terrible third round.”
“The second race was better for me with nice breeze and good pumping conditions. Sixth is a keeper in these conditions. So I’m obviously not happy with the first race, but quite happy with the last.”
On the temperature he said, “It was a bit cooler today, but we had training days with everything, so maybe we were a bit lucky today that the temperatures dropped a bit or the last race would have been pretty harsh.”
Berecz was happy with a “Solid first day. It was very tough but we are all used to it by now when the regatta starts, the condition change completely to what we had before. Luckily it worked in my favour and I had a fantastic start to the regatta. I was working hard not to have a bad start so we succeeded with that.”
In the second race, “In the last downwind I gained a lot. Finally we had some waves and I could surf.”
“So very happy how things are going and am looking forward to the next few days.”
Cardona rued his missed opportunities but was also happy with his start to the regatta.
“The last race I was leading the whole race but I didn’t have the best last downwind so Zsombi and Alican managed to pass me. But I am still happy with two consistent results today after a long day. I’m very happy to start like this.”
“I was probably the most consistent in the first race. I started really good and managed to always be in control of the fleet so very happy at the end. When the squall came in with a lot of rain and a big shift to the right that we were not expecting, I managed to not lose that much so happy with that third place.”
After more than five hours on the water, “It was a super long day. Right now I want a big rest, big eat and recharge the batteries, and tomorrow the same again.”
On Wednesday the Finns move to the further offshore Zushi course, with two more races starting from 12.00 local time.
Full results can be found here: https://tokyo2020.sailing.org/results-centre/
– Robert Deaves