By winning the last race of the Qualifying series at the 470 World Championships today, both reigning World Champions Nathan WILMOT / Malcolm PAGE and Marcelien DE KONING / Lobke BERKHOUT take the lead in resp. the Men’s and Women’s Fleet. With their last year’s efforts and current leading positions, they spectacularly send out an invitation to their opponents at the start of the finals for a challenge to prove who World’s best “Two Person Dinghy” sailors are.
The Qualifying series were concluded by only one race today. It was not only a decision making race for many sailors to stay in the race for medals and a position in the Gold Fleet, but also for the Championship contenders to make a difference trying to run out on points.
Some protests were handled yesterday evening. A disqualification for Denmark’s Lene SOMMER and Uta KOCH finally might have a major effect for further Medal Race opportunities while they end the qualifying races in twenty-second position. Also for Russia’s Vlada ILIENKO and Natalia GAPONIVICH a disqualification in race four came at a bad time since they made an early start under Black Flag in race five, and end the Qualifiers with a “Discretionary Penalty Imposed”
Some decisions of the Jury were also made in the Men’s Fleet, however not with impact as in the Women’s Fleet.
Because there was enough time, it was decided to have the races of Men and Women in a separate time schedule, but on the same race course to create more space in the race area that seems to be quite popular for Chinese fishermen.
Today’s SW wind with an average of 8-13 knots, freshening up to 18 knots now and then had strong off-land influences causing a strong variety in strength and direction. With a strong current, starting at about 14 cm/s at noon and increasing to 40 cm/s while racing, it was another day of racing in very demanding circumstances with a lot to play for.
Curtain falls for Championship contenders
Australia’s Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE act strong and win in their group, with which they strengthen their Title defending position. Also French brothers BONNAUD seem to take their Olympic campaign more serious then ever. The Gold Medallists of the 470 Europeans win the game in their group to put themselves in a third overall position, leading them into the finals with similar points as the World Ranking List leaders Gabrio Zandona and Andrea TRANI from Italy.
Although the current rankings on the leaderboard seem to form a pattern, the right of discard of everyone’s worst result will still play an important role in the further development of the Championship.
Great Brittain’s Nick ASHER and Elliot WILLIS take a second overall position, but they still have the advantage of a margin that allows them at least one far-below-average result.
Also the Dutch COSTER brothers, who have had a less prosperous period lately, move up step by step and now join the group of leaders. In earlier Championships they have proven to be able to attack at unexpected moments.
Sailing is a great game, but also serious competition with hard facts. The 29 best teams after today’s races will proceed in the Gold Fleet, and so the curtain has fallen for some serious contenders for this Championship event.
Alvaro MARINHO and Miguel NUNES from Portugal had a very short preparation, which might explain the fair results during their opening in the event. Taking a thirty-second position they will proceed in the Silver Fleet, even as Greece’s Andreas KOSMATOPOULOS/Andreas PAPADOPOULOS, sailors with an impressive track record of 470 sailing in past Olympics.
Title defenders take the lead in Women’s Fleet
Marcelien DE KONING and Lobke BERKHOUT set pace today by winning the race in their group and leaving Japan’s Yuka YOSHISAKO and Noriko OKYMA behind them
Although it is always hard to defend a leading position, especially with six more races to go and a Medal Race ahead, the Dutch Ladies still have sufficient space to make at least one mistake, which is not granted for the Japanese who made their mistake today with an eighteenth position. The same for Sweden’s Therese TORGERSSON and Vendela ZACHRISSON who were disqualified in the second race of the Championship and take that result as discard.
“To get on top today did not come easy” said BERKHOUT . “We have prepared for this event technically, but also mentally and physically, like we had to lose a lot of weight. It has been worth it as we have a very good feeling with the boat, which makes it more easy and efficient to anticipate to the elements like shifts, gusts and current.
The Championship is far from finished yet and there is very strong competition, for example the Swedish THORGERSSON / ZACHRISSON. They are in perfect form, they have shown that during the Pre Olympics in Qingdao.
At the Worlds in San Francisco last year there was more wind and the conditions were quite the same every day. Boat speed was very important. At this Championship the wind is much more less and the conditions like wind and current have different characteristics every day. In light winds, speed is important at the start but during the race almost everyone has the same boat speed, which makes tactics a major issue here.
We are doing well so far, although we have to improve at some points, At least we know what those points are. They have been written down and hang above my bed!” she said smiling.
German Ladies Stephanie ROTHWEILER and Vivien KUSSATZ did not manage to make significant changes today coming closer to the leading group. The same for Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadege DOUROUX from France who will have had higher expectations for themselves in this Championship. As a serious opponent of 470 Women legends Sofia BEKATOROU and Emilia TOULFA at many Championships in the past, they currently take a twentieth overall position.
Tomorrow racing will proceed in the Final series. The Men’s Fleet will be separated into Gold (29 teams), Silver and Bronze, The ladies into Gold (30 teams) and Silver.