Grand Prix Sailing

Medal race line-up decided after second day of no racing 

 

 

Opel Finn Gold Cup on Lake Balaton

 

The Finn Gold Cup is an extraordinary collective experience that is second to none in the Finn sailor’s calendar. It brings together sailors from across the world, and across the spectrum of experience and ability. It matches Olympic champions against the best youth in the world; it matches experienced helms against the inexperienced; the young against the old; the knowledgeable against the knowledge hungry; the elite against the club sailor. There is nothing quite like it on the Olympic campaign trail. It is unique to the Finn class and something that is valued and respected by Finn sailors across the world.

It is a fantastic university of sailing with knowledge and experience flowing down and through the fleet, with sailors sharing an understanding of how to sail this simple and yet complex sailboat, both within their own pier groups and most importantly to the new generation of Finn sailors. There are 35 U23 sailors on Balaton this week, all soaking up the experience of the exceptional level of knowledge on offer from the top sailors.

The insight that sailors learn from competing alongside and against such a world-class fleet stay with them for the rest of their lives and set them up to be the world and Olympic champions of the future. You cannot buy this experience; it has to be earned through competing at the Finn Gold Cup. The 113 sailors here are learning this valuable lesson day by day. Even a day spent on shore turns into a valuable learning and bonding experience with conversations and sharing of experience and stories that educate and clarify the magic of sailing a Finn.

Max Salminen of Sweden will go into Sunday’s medal race at the Opel Finn Gold Cup with a seven-point advantage at the top of the leader board after no more races were sailed on Day 6 in Balatonföldvár.

For the second day running no racing was possible, despite a promising forecast. The expected wind arrived far too late to be useful and the time limit expired before a race could be held.

The sailors were held on shore until mid afternoon, until, with the time limit of 16.00 hrs approaching, the fleet was released at 14.20 hrs to wait on the lake to make the best use of any wind. Within 10 minutes the decision was rewarded with a sailable wind, however by the time the sailors arrived at the start line the wind had evaporated.

Thirty minutes later the race committee smelt some wind further south and moved over to investigate. It soon signaled everyone to follow and all support and coach boats were called upon to tow the fleet half a mile south to meet the incoming wind.

Time was tight with the deadline fast approaching, and the race committee did a fantastic job setting up a course and a start line in time to hoist the orange flag at 15.55 hrs, the latest possible time.

However at 1 minute to go before the start the wind shifted 30 to 40 degrees, skewing the start line and the upwind, which meant the race committee had no option but to abandon racing for the day, as the time limit had passed.

So the results from Thursday decide the medal race line-up.

The medal race is planned to be held first on Sunday with any of the top five sailors mathematically capable of winning the title. Only Ed Wright, of Britain, has won the title before, in 2010. After that race has been sailed the final race from 11th and up is scheduled.

 

Medal race sailors

1 SWE 33 Max Salminen 31

2 GBR 11 Ed Wright 38

3 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 38

4 NED 89 Nicholas Heiner 48

5 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 49

6 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 53

7 POL 17 Piotr Kula 60

8 ARG 48 Facundo Olezza 65

9 NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 81

10 CRO 69 Milan Vujasinovic 84

 

Just 11 points separate the top seven teams

photos © Didier Hilliare

 

Day 4 – Nacra 17 Worlds at La Grande Motte 

 

It is the Italian tricolour flying highest over La Grande Motte in the South of France after the first day of gold fleet racing at the Nacra 17 World Championships.

As the intensity of the first day of gold fleet Finals racing took full effect, compounded by there being only one way to go off the high octane start lines, several top seeds made mistakes, including black flag penalties some which may yet prove very costly.

As recently crowned European Champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti stepped two points clear at the top of the leaderboard, Italian teams won all three races. Tita and Banti finish the day two points ahead of Spanish rival pairs Fernando Echavarri and Tara Pacheco and Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets who are just one point apart.

But with six races and Sunday’s medal race still to go, the 2017 championship is wide open, with just 10 points between the first seven crews, and top coaches and medal winning athletes alike expect this chase go down to the wire on Sunday’s medal race.

Now sailing with Maelle Frascari, Italy’s 2016 Rio Olympic helm Vittorio Bissario won the first race today as the first crew to start close to the pin, left end of the start line and break first away to the favoured left. They lead all the way around the course, benefiting from the bend on the left side of the course and the slight extra pressure. In contrast compatriots, Tita and Banti had a poor start and had to fight back to 15th in the 24 boat gold fleet.

 

photos © Didier Hilliare

Roller coaster leaderboard

In the 10-12kt sea breeze conditions which remained relatively stable through the three races, increasingly the fight to get off the line and escape in good shape drew casualties. Britain’s Ben Saxton and Katie Dabson suffered a U flag disqualification which, after a 15th in the third race dropped them from second to fifth for the day.

Among the top title challengers, their weighty error was not isolated. No sooner had New Zealand’s Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders gone 2,8 to lead the regatta than they capsized in the third race to finish 24th.

Lying second Spain’s vastly experienced Fernando Echavarri warned, “This is still a long championship with six races to go. Every race it is easy to make a mistake and once you make a mistake or go to the wrong side it is really, difficult to get back to the top. It is going to be about the balance between taking just enough risk and too much risk to get into good positions.”

 

photos © Didier Hilliare

 

The leaderboard roller coaster continued as France’s top duo Moana Vaireux and Manon Audinet, based in La Grande Motte for much of the year, made their second bad start from three to finish 18th, dropping to seventh. And Danish duo Lin Ea Cenholt and Christian Peter Lübeck could not impose themselves as they lead the qualifying series, today going 16,13,13 to drop from first to fourth.

Franck Citeau, the coach of the French team contends, “The key today? Start, go left and the race was finished at the first tack. You had to win the buoy and get away. In this world championship, there is no favourite, no one has the edge. And right now there will be a different leader, a different world champion, each night until the end of the medal race. And it is the medal race which will decide this world championship and the podium.

In this fleet, everyone can make mistakes as we saw today. Perhaps Echavarri has the advantage, not in speed, not in technique but he is the metronome, he is the consistent one. With this new boat and the limited training time, we have all had then the level is pretty homogeneous, pretty even. Nobody stands out. And in the end, it might be like the Olympic Games were on the day Santi Lange won because he got the job done.”

There is a certain similarity between the European Championship podium and tonight’s World Championship leaderboard, Tita and Banti winning in Kiel in early July by a single point from Echavarri and Pacheco. There are also some features common to the 2014 European Championship on these same waters in La Grande Motte where Iker Martinez won, sailing with Pacheco. Italy’s Bissario was third at the championship.

Echavarri, 2008 Olympic Tornado gold medallist, was taking little store from their rise up the leaderboard, “We were struggling yesterday when we could not get out of our own way. Today we were fast and we are happy. But the fleet is so very even, one bad day can change everything. Basically, we were not on the course yesterday. We talked after racing, we don’t like to be in the corners and yesterday we did not take enough risk. But today there was more wind and we felt a little more comfortable. But in general a good day for the Spanish and the Italians.”

Echavarri concluded, ” There is a long way to go with these boats to be able to sail them to their potential, a long way. We did not train much, we did the Europeans and Aarhus. This winter will be key. It is too early to know where we will go in the winter and what we will do. We don’t have a plan for tomorrow far less the winter!”

Racing continues Saturday and Sunday with a forecast for Medal Race day, the deciding finale, promising 20+ kts.

 

Standings after Day 4: (top ten, 9 qualifying races, 3 finals races, 1 discard allowed only from QF series)

1 Ruggero Tita/Caterina Banti (ITA) 63pts

2 Fernando Echavarri/Tara Pacheco (ESP) 65pts

3 Iker Martinez/Olga Maslivets (ESP) 66pts

4 Lin Ea Cenholt/Christian Peter Lübeck (DEN) 71pts

5 Ben Saxton/Katie Dabson (GBR) 72pts

6 Gemma Jones/Jason Saunders (NZL) 74pts

7 Moanna Vaireaux/Marion Audinet (FRA) 74pts

8 Vittorio Bassaro/Maelle Frascari (ITA) 80pts

9 Jason Waterhouse/Lisa Darmanin (AUS) 80pts

10 Mateo Majdalani/Eugenia Bosco (ARG) 83pts

 

Full results can be found here.

 

A series of meetings to stabilise the Nacra 17

 

photo © YCGM

 

At the Nacra 17 World Championships at La Grand Motte the class have been busy each night with a series of class meetings to try and steady the class which has suffered numerous setbacks after its short life as a fully foiling class.

2 Class meetings were held with all members and entrants over the first two nights of the Nacra 17 World Championships, where Class members voted in a series of stabilising measures.

The open forum meeting agenda was cut short after the allotted time was spent debating a single but very important topic: the use of the gennaker upwind. After two hours of debate, a sailor only vote was held. This vote changed, on a short-term basis for this World Championships only, the Sailing Instructions so as to rule out the use of gennakers upwind. The vote was very tight with both sides having some very valid arguments.

Four weeks ago, New Zealand’s Jones and Saunders initiated the use of gennakers upwind at the Europeans. Some fleet members took the concept forward, while others worked on trying to foil upwind with just the main and jib. While both concepts have had their moments in training, a 9-knot day at the worlds venue where the use of gennakers upwind won the practice racing worried the builders and some of the fleet enough to ask the Class for the practice to be reviewed.

To date, sailing upwind with the gennaker has not broken any masts. However, a couple of spinnakers have blown up and it is clear that they are not designed for this mode of sailing. After a lot of debate among the Class Executive a last minute vote, though inconvenient, was scheduled.

The following night, on the eve of racing, the Class held its AGM. An update was given to the World Council on topics not covered the previous night during the Open Forum. The Class discussed the future event schedule and other topics relevant to the Class. Three Vice Presidents and the CFO were elected to the Executive.  One new VP was elected, Lisa Darminian (AUS), as well as re-elections of Murray Jones (NZL) as CFO, Sofia Bekkatorou (GRE) and Iker Martinez (ESP) as VPs.

Thereafter a series of debates and votes were taken on a number of equipment topics from the use of gennakers upwind, board position, mandatory and optional safety gear and foot loops. Much debate discussed having a period of stability in the Class. While evolution to remain current, and for performance, is desired the crux of the debate centred on the correct balance with a period of stability. Most of the sailors agreed that we should evolve to get the most out of the new boats but they really need as much certainty as possible about the platform over the next few years in the lead up to Tokyo. Ultimately a series of votes on various proposals emphasized stability over broad evolution, but with a focus on looking at low-cost and easy “quick wins” and a priority list of all potential options with a full investigation into longer term and more significant changes.

A number of proposals for specification changes to optimise sailing with the gennaker upwind was withdrawn after the debate, with the Technical Committee and designers to investigate in more detail the various options. The Class reviewed it’s earlier decision to sail with the boards down at all times and ultimately decided to a Class Rule change to have more flexibility and to allow the Race Officers to prescribe times when boards may be raised in lighter airs. This change will allow the Class to test the impact of raising boards and further Class guidance will be developed to guide the Race Officials.

Rule change to have more flexibility and to allow the Race Officers to prescribe times when boards may be raised in lighter airs. This change will allow the Class to test the impact of raising boards and further Class guidance will be developed to guide the Race Officials.

A vote to change the Class Rules to allow an extra foot loop was unanimously approved.

A number of Class Rules votes were conducted concerning safety. For the events in 2017, helmets, safety knives, and impact vests doubling as floatation devices were governed by each event’s Notice of Race. The Class proposed changes to its Class Rules to cement these issues. Of note is the ability for the Race Officials to determine when, in lighter winds, it is safe to race without helmets.

These Class Rule changes will be submitted to World Sailing for approval in the coming days.

In a positive development showing a new level of engagement of the sailors, the Class will meet again, informally, on Saturday, September 9, to review a list of small “quick win” improvements that can be investigated as well as some longer term investigations.

The sailors will help set the priority list for Nacra Sailing and the Technical Committee to investigate with the goal of making simple and cost-effective improvements to keep improving the performance of the Nacra 17.

An example of such improvements may be to allow a 3:1 traveller system, filling the screw holes in the rudder elevator and to look at the rudder gudgeons to see if we can reduce drag, weight and play in the system.

The Nacra 17 is meanwhile stumbling to the sharp end of the first foiling world championship with a medal race on the weekend.

 

Danes maintain their lead at the Nacra 17 Worlds

 

Lin Ea Cenholt & Christian Peter Lubeck  – photo © YCGM

 

Day 3 – Nacra 17 World Championships at La Grande Motte 

 

The top two crews at the Nacra 17 World Championship both emerged from a challenging Race 7 of the Qualifying Series with their worst results yet. But, showing the hallmarks of potential champions, both regrouped and were immediately back into their stride during the subsequent two heats and so head into Friday and Saturday’s Finals with just a small cushion over the third placed team.

The World Championship leaders in La Grand Motte, France, remain Denmark’s Lin Ea Cenholt and Christian Peter Lubeck, local heroes when they won last month’s 2018 Aarhus Sailing World Championship Test Event.

The Danish duo who only narrowly missed Olympic selection to rivals Allan Norregard and Annette Viborg, broke from their usual ‘stay with the group and stay consistent’ strategy in today’s first light winds race, contested in a patchy 10 – 11kts of cross offshore breeze, only to find themselves hung out to dry hundreds of metres behind their rivals. They battled back to their discard, 19th.

In the same streaky breeze, which was enough, at times, to more favour the lighter crews who could foil and fly for periods, Great Britain’s duo Ben Saxton and Katie Dabson, who have only been together since May, also sailed their discard. They too bounced back to a 1,5 while the ice cool Danes went 2,2 to lead the Brits into the Finals by two points.

Spain’s double Olympic medallist Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets had a similar day in the patchy, up and down sea breeze which did not quite reach the forecast 12kts.

They sailed to a first and a good fourth, but then had to fight back from deep to an eleventh. But while the Spanish aces are up to third in the standings because they already have an eleventh in their scoreline they go into the Finals eight points behind Saxton and Dabson.

With the top 24 pairs making the cut to the Gold Fleet, the business end of the Nacra 17 World Championship will see a big step up in the level. To date none of the Rio Olympic medallists are in the top five, Argentina’s Olympic champions Santi Lange and Cecilia Carrannza Carroli are sixth at their first Nacra 17 regatta since their Rio victory. They won the third race of the day. But silver medallists Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin are eighth and bronze winner, Austria’s Thomas Zajac with new crew Barbara Matz are 19th.

The Danes Cenhholt and Lübeck have been as impressively consistent on the Camargue’s Baie d’Aigues Mortes as they were winning on their home waters.

Britain’s leading helm Saxton, who finished ninth in Rio and is one of the most experienced in the fleet having started in 2013 when he was runner up for the world title, warned:

“The Danes are fast, start well and are good upwind and downwind. But it is a going to get a lot tougher. It is wicked to be here among all these good sailors. I relish the opportunity from here.”

But theirs is a potent pairing, the fresh drive and impetus brought aboard from the powerful, smart Dabson complementing Saxton’s experience, “We are good at cracking on, never switching off, we work hard and are good at regrouping and getting going again and that makes us quite nice and consistent.” Saxton said, “Katie has been great. There are not many sailors could hop on to the boat in May and already have a Europeans medal. Credit to her. She puts a lot of effort in and that goes a long way.”

“Some people are playing more than others. I tried a new setting today in the boat, just how you set the power up in the boat, and that seemed to work and so we are learning every day.” Saxton concluded.

Fourth in Rio, New Zealand’s Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders are nicely poised in fourth.

Saunders said: “Overall today we are happy because the wind was a bit fickle on our course. We are happy with our start to the regatta The first objective was to be in the gold fleet and not to do anything stupid Now the serious things start tomorrow. We are in the match but the intensity goes up and up from here. Before the regatta we had worked hard at sailing upwind with the gennaker and that was not allowed so we had to regroup, relearn a lot of stuff. But we have been making good starts which are not usually our best points. So these are good learnings now to carry forwards to the Finals.”

 

Standings after Day 3: (top ten, 9 races, 1 discard)

1 Lin Ea Cenholt Christensen/Christian Peter Lubeck (DEN) (12, 1, 1, 3, 4,4, (19), 2, 2) 29pts

2 Ben Saxton/Katie Dabson (GBR) 31pts (6,4,2,6,5,2 (10),1,5) 31pts

3 Iker Martinez/Olga Maslivets (ESP) (1,(11), 9,4,7,1,4,1,11) 38pts

4 Gemma Jones/Jason Saunders (NZL) (3,5,4,(14), 3,7,5,11,2) 40pts

5 Moana Vaireaux/Manon Audinet (FRA) (6,5,7,4,3,3,9,6,(10) 43pts

6 Santiago Lange/Cecilia Carranza (ARG) (9,7,3,1,8,6,(12),10,1) 45pts

7 Ruggero Tita/Caterina Banti (ITA) (12,2,10,6,1,2,3 (18), 10) 46pts

8 Jason Waterhouse/Lisa Dalmanin (AUS) (4,9,12,5,1,5,(13),4,7) 47pts

9 Pablo Defazio/Dominique Knuppel (URU) (5,3,5,5,14,(17), 3,9,3) 47pts

10 John Gimson/Anna Burnett (GBR) (3,4,2,(14),6,7,7,13,8) 50pts

 

Full results can be found here.

 

Max Salminen maintains lead at Opel Finn Gold Cup 

 

Max Salminen – photo c Robert Deaves

 

Only one race on Thursday and no wind on Friday at the Open Finn Gold Cup at Lake Balaton in Hungary.

Max Salminen, from Sweden, extended his lead to seven points after placing fifth in the only race possible on Day 4. Ed Wright, from Britain, remains in second, while Jonathan Lobert, from France moves up one place to third, on equal points with Wright. The race was won by the 2013 World Champion, Jorge Zarif, from Brazil.

Salminen is the only sailor so far to retain his overnight lead, while most of the top ten remain the same, apart from Anders Pedersen, from Norway, who placed ninth today, and moves into the top ten.

Credit also to Gerardo Seeliger, who celebrated his 70th birthday today with his best result of the series so far, finishing 86th and beating several sailors less than half his age.

After six hours waiting for a stable wind, which shifted through almost 180 degrees during the morning and early afternoon, one late race was sailed in a slowly building breeze, topping out at 13-16 knots. Lobert made the best of the wet upwind as the wind increased past 10 knots and Oscar was raised at the top mark. He was followed round by Zarif and Nenad Bugarin, from Croatia.

Bugarin has sailed an excellent series and would be a title contender but for two letter scores that have left him carrying 114 points, a very high price in a fleet of this size and quality.

 

Jorge Zarif – photo c Robert Deaves

 

Zarif took the lead on the downwind and never really looked threatened for the remainder of the race. Lobert then came under pressure from Zsombor Berecz, from Hungary, on the second upwind, but just managed to stay in front. However, Berecz went wider on the downwind and came into the final mark just ahead to finish second ahead of Lobert.

Pedersen moves into the top 10 for the first time after a shaky start to the week.

“The favoured side changes a lot so it’s hard to keep up on the good side. I had a bit of an unfortunate disqualification in the first race but I have kept my score pretty low since then and have had a pretty good week. So I am happy with my sailing this week, though it could have been a bit better.”

“It’s been very nice conditions, even though it’s been very tricky and very shifty. Though it’s better than we first feared, so it’s been good racing.”

A second place moves Berecz up one place to fifth overall.

He explained his day, “In the afternoon we had a beautiful breeze coming from the south-west. Finally it went good for me and I decided to stop these mid-line starts and I went a bit closer to the pin and finally, it paid off and I rounded about seventh at the top. I had the best speed downwind and I found myself in third place, which I kept on the second upwind, and then on the last downwind I passed Lobert to finish second. So I am really happy how the day went for me.”

Race winner Zarif says this week has been the worst regatta for him in several years, but he remains hopeful.

“I tried to start close to the pin, play a little bit more on the left and tried get the shifts, and I think it was a good race. It’s good to win a Gold Cup race after a very bad week so far for me, but to win a race is always very nice at the Gold Cup. I will try my best over the last three races and try to win a space in the medal race.”

The points gap between the top eight is still pretty close, but in a fleet of 113 boats, a lot can happen very quickly, as many good sailors are finding out.

 

Results after 7 races

1 SWE 33 Max Salminen 31 pts

2 GBR 11 Ed Wright 38

3 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 38

4 NED 89 Nicholas Heiner 48

5 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 49

6 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 53

7 POL 17 Piotr Kula 60

8 ARG 48 Facundo Olezza 65

9 NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 81

10 CRO 69 Milan Vujasinovic 84

 

Highlights video to follow at FINN TV and on Facebook.

No wind on Day 5 so points remain the same.

The fifth day of the Opel Finn Gold Cup  started promising with some nice wind on the lake, but just as the sailors were getting ready to launch, a fog bank rolled in and AP was displayed.

When the fog cleared two hours later, the wind had gone and Balaton remained calm and largely windless through the morning and afternoon. Finally at 15.30 hrs the race office pulled the pin and the sailors dispersed.

There are two days left to sail, with three possible races remaining in the opening series before the final and medal races on Sunday.

 

 

Solid day for Danes who move into the lead

photo © YCGM

 

Nacra 17 Worlds at Yacht Club de la Grande Motte 

 

After a relatively benign, gentle introduction to the Nacra 17 World Championship – the first ever in flying, foiling 2020 Olympic mode, La Grande Motte’s Baie d’Aigue Mortes in the South of France’s Camargue region, progressively turned up the heat as the NW’ly Tramontane breeze kicked in for the afternoon.

A solid 3,4,4, for the day from Denmark’s Lin Ea Cenholt Christiansen and Christian Peter Lubeck moved the Aarhus 2018 World Championship Test regatta winners six points clear of Great Britain’s Ben Saxton and Katie Dabson.

The Tramontane took its time to build. Racing got away in a modest 8-9 kts for the first qualifying heats of the day for both fleets before an enforced break waiting for the forecast breeze, which could be seen tantalisingly close, hovering to the west of the large, open bay before it the white horses of the Camargue finally lined up to produce two excellent contests, taking many of the crews to the edge of control, learning finer points of the processes and pitfalls of the different foiling modes. The offshore breeze had enough reach to windward to kick up some challenging waves at times.

It was a good day for the strong Italian Nacra 17 squad who started their ascent of the leaderboard. Recently crowned European champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti, universally acknowledged as among the fastest teams upwind, bounced back from a bit of a lacklustre first day with a second and first gained as soon as the breeze was in, to move up to third. Best scores of the day came from compatriots Vittorio Bissaro and Maelle Frascari who sailed to a 1,2,3 after three midfleet results on Tuesday.

“On our race course surviving was the key.” Tita reported, “We were not doing anything in particular downwind, just surviving and then upwind we were a little faster. The second two races were out of control, it was windy, we were flying some of the time then not flying, jumping. But we are quick upwind and that made a difference.”

Of their upwind speed the Italian helm who raced in Rio in the 49er before partnering up with Banti who has a full quadrennial in the class under her belt, Tita contends, ” There is no secret. I come from the 49er and even if I came to the class looking to fly upwind but it is not working so far. We are sailing like a normal cat upwind and flying only for little spells. On our race course surviving was the key. We were doing nothing in particular downwind, just surviving and then upwind we were a little faster.”

Rio gold medallists Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli capitalised in the first race after an excellent pin end start to put themselves in a position to pounce when the regatta leaders made a mistake at the second top mark.

Helm Christiansen fell off the boat as she completed a swift tack at the mark in front of the Argentinian duo. They sailed past to take their first winning gun of 2017, their first victory together since Rio. Their second race did not go so well as their main traveller broke on the approach to Mark 1, compromised thereafter they finished eighth. With a sixth in the third race Lange and Carranza Saroli are now up to tenth.

“We were top three when we dropped the traveller down and it went ‘bang’. That is a mistake. Every race counts a lot for us for our confidence. I enjoyed the day, it was good fun and we are learning together race by race. Today we learned how much we really have to catch up after my injury. I damaged my ligament in my knee reaching on Garda when Santi fell on it. We had sailed for ten days and then I was out for three weeks. So it is good to be back.” Recalled Saroli.

For Spain’s double Olympic medallist Iker Martinez, lack of training time in the Nacra 17 may be compensated for by sheer experience, a clear head and focus and the sheer drive promoted by missing out on Rio selection. Now having been sailing for six months with Olga Maslivets, Martinez explained they have done little training since the Iberostar Princesa Sofia Regatta and missed the Europeans, but they have done some Moth sailing and he has been busy with the GC32 circuit racing. They won the third heat in the breeze today, their second race win of the series after triumphing in Race 1 and move up to fifth overall.

Martinez smiled, “For us, this is just the start of the story and so we don’t want to be putting pressure on ourselves this early. But we had a good day with 4,7,1, winning a race in the breeze is good. We keep learning together. Even though we decided on this Olympic campaign six months ago we have not yet done that much sailing together and so to win today is good. In the stronger wind, you had to sail well under spinnaker and we did that. As long as the seas are flat it’s fine. We pushed a bit harder in that last race. I think everyone feels the same, we will all get better with more training. And after all the problems we had with the boats it is great to be here and to have a championship started and under way.”

Thursday is the last day of qualification races before Friday and Saturday’s Finals racing. The local forecast is for a day similar to today, light winds in the late morning before the Tramontane NW’ly returns.

Full results can be found here.

 

Max Salminen leads after snakes and ladders third day 

 

Max Salminen – photo c Robert Deaves

 

 

Opel Finn Gold Cup at Lake Balaton

 

Max Salminen, from Sweden, is the third leader in three days at the Opel Finn Gold Cup at Balatonföldvár on Lake Balaton. The ever-tricky wind caused a few more high scores, while a few of those at the top maintained their consistency. Ed Wright, from Britain, moves up to second with Nicholas Heiner, from the Netherlands, who won the first race of the day, in third. Piotr Kula won the second race.

Both races on Day 3 were started under black flag as the fleet seemed overly keen to get the racing underway. Race 5 was a left hand favoured course with most of the fleet heading out towards the eastern shoreline of Balaton to get the best wind. Heiner led round the top mark from Milan Vujasinovic, from Croatia, and Ioannis Mitakis, from Greece. Heiner pulled away downwind and was never really threatened to record his first win of the week in his first Finn Gold Cup.

However the battle behind him was pretty intense, with lots of place changes. In the end Jake Lilley, from Australia, came through for second ahead of the British pair of Henry Wetherell and Wright.

The wind was starting to drop as Race 6 was started, but Oscar was raised at the first top mark as the wind returned. Some heavy cloud came down the lake threatening rain, but the day remained dry.

Lilley continued his good form by leading round the top mark in Race 6 from Kula and new U23 World Champion, Oskari Muhonen, from Finland. The first downwind was kind to Kula who pulled ahead as the wind died again to around 6-7 knots. He maintained his lead to the finish, though was pushed hard on the second downwind by Muhonen and Lilley. Heiner came through in the last stages of the downwind to round the find, shortened, downwind mark inside Lilley to take third.

 

Nicholas Heiner – photo c Robert Deaves

 

Heiner is now up to third, nine points off the lead.

“Slowly getting into the event and today was a really nice day. It was decently steady for Balaton. We’ve had three great day’s sailing so far, and not really what we expected from Balaton. But so far, so good.”

“I spent the first two days trying to get the feel of the leverage with the big fleet and today I got a bit more into that. In the end I think it’s just about winning your side and keeping an eye out for the other extremes and see how they go.”

“Today with the second race, it was quite tricky. The big cloud came over, so I just had a plan. It’s always a tricky one. Do you go for a side and get the leverage or do you start out of the middle and just play the fleet? And that changes race by race.”

“You always have a plan, but if you see something starting to happen then at least you need to have the possibility to come across and make something decent out of it.” In the second race, “Even two minutes on port trying to get back to the right, made a huge difference at the top mark.”

Kula stays in fifth place, discarding his 68th in the first race today.

“I didn’t do well out of the first black flag start today and messed up my race, but wiped my tears away and won the second race.”

In the second race, “I was expecting the left would pay better than the right, but the crowd on the pin was so big, I found a more empty spot on the line and tacked quickly and then I played the shifts and was second at the top.”

How did he turn a disastrous first race into a win in the second?

“I actually started preparing for the second race in the first one. At the second top mark in the first race I was thinking this is hopefully my worst race so the best I can do now is to focus and gather my thoughts and sail nice downwind to set my mind for the next race and this is what I did. I just focussed on myself, focussed on the waves, surfed nicely and basically on the finish line I swallowed this bitter pill and just focussed on the next one.”

Salminen had the third best day of anyone on the water and takes a four-point lead at the top.

“Another good day for me. I am happy to be up there in almost every race so far. That’s what I wanted to do. It’s not about winning races, just about dodging those bullets that can get really hairy in a fleet of 113 boats.”

“It’s hard to manage to risk out there especially when you don’t really know what you are going to get. So far the left has been paying, but on the second race today almost all the guys at the top came from the right, so it’s hard. I think speed is your only weapon that will always be there, so good speed and good starts for sure.”

 

Huge leverage in Race 6 – photo c Robert Deaves

 

Finn sailors have many challenges when racing in Gold Cup fleets, but Mikael Hyrylainen, from Finland, had a rather unique challenge today, trying to get a snake out of his boat between races. Loitering somewhere in the depths of his boat for the first race, his slithery friend, named Frank, made an appearance and it took Mikael some effort, balanced on the foredeck, to force the snake back to the cockpit, where he was duly dispatched back into the Balaton depths.

As the sailors came ashore lake became windless for the first time since the event opened. Racing is scheduled to continue at 10.00 Thursday, but some forecasts would indicate a delayed start is possible.

At the half way stage there is no clear leader. Finding the 2017 Finn World Champion could turn into one of the most interesting battles yet. There are plenty of snakes to slide down and ladders to climb.

Check out the links below to follow the racing on Twitter and Facebook. Most mark roundings and finishes are broadcast on Facebook Live through the Finn Class page.

 

Results after six races

1 SWE 33 Max Salminen 26

2 GBR 11 Ed Wright 30

3 NED 89 Nicholas Heiner 35

4 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 35

5 POL 17 Piotr Kula 43

6 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 47

7 ARG 48 Facundo Olezza 49

8 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 49

9 CRO 69 Milan Vujasinovic 61

10 FIN 8 Oskari Muhonen 69

 

Highlights video to follow at FINN TV and on Facebook.

 

Gimson and Burnett Lead British 1-2 

 

 

Nacra 17 World Championships at La Grande Motte

 

American duo Riley Gibbs and Louisa Chafee were the leaders at the Nacra 17 World Championships after the first three qualifying races were contested in light, sub 10 kt breezes and pleasant sunshine off La Grande Motte’s Baie de Aigues Mortes. They were protested after racing for a measurement infringement and penalised, ceding the lead to Britain’s John Gimson and Anna Burnett.

As if to answer the question whether the younger generation can make a big impression at these first ever foiling Nacra World Championships, foiling kiteboarder and 49er racer Gibbs, 21, paired with Rio Olympian Chafee, 25, had opened with an opening second and two first places from their 24 strong Blue fleet group and were credited with the provisional early lead of the championship. But they were subsequently protested and penalised for sailing with the rubber bushes at the top of the foils removed, contrary to the International Jury’s interpretation of the measurement rules.

The young Americans, training partners of injured Bora Gulari and Helena Scutt who – Scutt reported after the hearing – had already trained with the bushes removed in order to preserve maximum strength in the head area rather than seek a performance gain were it to allow the foil to drop lower. “This is not about any performance gain this is about the strength in that part of the board.” Scutt emphasised after the hearing. “We had the boards not once, but twice, to measurement like that and so we considered it was fine.” Added USA coach David Howlett.

With the young American pair receiving a 50 per cent place penalty for each of their races, John Gimson and Anna Burnett now lead a British Sailing Team 1-2 at the top of the World Championship standings with New Zealand’s Rio Olympians Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders in third. While several key groups have been working up on Lake Garda and here in La Grande Motte for example, the five strong British Nacra 17 squad have been training hard together as a unit on their native Olympic waters off Weymouth and Portland. They showed well at the first foiling Nacra 17 event, the European Championship in Kiel where British Sailing Team crews took three of the top six places.

 

 

 

Helm Gimson outlines the ongoing British squad philosophy, “The GBR squad, all five British boats, ourselves Ben Saxton, Tom Phipps, Rupert White and Chris Rashley have all been training together in Weymouth which has been good. We did a lot of practice sailing with the kite up upwind and then that got banned the day before the event and so we have been trying to remember how to sail ‘old style’. The training as a squad has been great, everyone has their different strengths, now we need to learn to race.”

Fifth in Kiel, Gimson, added, “We picked up our boat the day before the Europeans and then built it the day before and then raced. But we had spent a lot of time in Bermuda with Artemis sailing the foiling Nacra 20s. It was just about converting that to the platform we have now.” “Some guys are making the upwind foiling work, Ben (Saxton and Katie Dabson) are making that work reasonably, the Kiwis have a nice mode as have the Italians but you need a lot of space to do that. It is OK on tuning runs but on the race course it is a different story.”

Consistency in the light conditions on the opening day was not easy. Although the left on both course areas appeared to yield some profit in additional wind pressure there was some concern that the sea breeze might move to the right. First blood on the Blue course went to Spain’s Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets who lead to the first top mark ahead of Gibbs and Chaffee, the double Olympic medallist and Maslivets holding on to their early margin to the finish line. On the corresponding Yellow area Italy’s Lorenzo Bressani and Cecilia Zorzi – who, like Martinez missed out on Rio selection – also started out with a Race 1 victory.

 

 

 

But Martinez and Maslivets struggled in the second race, rounded third from last, and had to fight back to a mid fleet 12th, going 1,12,9 for the day to lie 21st just behind Rio gold winners Lange and Carannza Saroli. Recently crowned European Champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti of Italy started modestly with two mid-fleet results and a second place but the Danish winners of the 2018 Sailing World Championships Aarhus Test Regatta, Lin Ea Cenholt and Christian Peter Lubeck came back after a modest 12th place opener to win both their subsequent races.

Helm Cenholt commented, “For us, we are really happy with our speed on the downwinds and having a lot of fun testing the boat and pushing it and seeing how we can make it a little faster. We might be falling off the foils now and then but it is all about the learning process. We got the boat on the 20th of June and so we did the Europeans and Aarhus. In Aarhus we were just consistent, we did not win a single race but our worst race was a fifth. Today we learned a lot, especially towards the goals which are finding the best settings upwind. Today I think we maybe got a little closer to a faster mode but also we are developing our settings- knowing how powerful the sails need to be set up for this boat.”

Racing starts at 1100hrs Wednesday with a forecast for NW’ly breeze in the morning.

 

Results can be found here : http://nacra17.org/events/2017-world-championship/

 

 

Jonathan Lobert leads after day 2 on Balaton

 

Jonathan Lobert – Photo c Robert Deaves

 

 

Opel Finn Gold Cup at Balaton, Hungary

 

Jonathan Lobert, from France, has taken the lead at the Opel Finn Gold Cup at Balatonföldvár, Hungary. Though he led both races on Day 2 at some point, the tricky Balaton breeze got the better of him twice and the race wins went to Brit, Ed Wright and Swede, Max Salminen. Salminen is now in second with Facundo Olezza, from Argentina, third.

The forecast was for slightly less wind than Monday and from further to the south. But it was still shifty and tricky with many place changes through the fleet. Huge gains and losses could be made with a few lucky, or unlucky, decisions.

Race 3 got away first time in 10-14 knots. Jake Lilley, from Australia, rounded first from Lobert and Ioannis Mitakis, from Greece. Lobert flew down the run to lead through the gate and looked to be heading for a win. However, a big right-hand shift on the second beat shuffled the leading pack, with new U23 World Champion, Oskari Muhonen, from Finland, leading Wright round the final top mark.

Nicholas Heiner, from the Netherlands, also made gains and was soon chasing the leaders downwind and just moved into second just before the final mark, with Mitakis moving back up to third. Lobert crossed some way back in ninth.

 

Max Salminen – photo c Robert Deaves

 

 

It took some time to get Race 4 away. The wind initially started to drop, but after a 30 minute postponement, was back up to 10-12 knots. One general recall and two black flag starts pulled out seven boats, including overall leader Nenad Bugarin, from Croatia. Lobert was again in front at the top mark, after favouring the middle left, from Arkadiy Kistanov, from Russia, and Salminen. The same three led through the gate, but on the second upwind, the left side came in, with Lobert being more conservative in the middle, and losing out again.

Salminen came past at the top and extended downwind for a comfortable win. Lobert hung on for second and let a tightly packed group across the line with Olezza also gaining hugely to cross third.

Oliver Tweddell, from Australia, almost didn’t make it to the event, suffering from a broken finger. Only given the go ahead last week he is glad he made the decision, as he is now in 13th place, and top Australian, after a reasonable start to the week.

“It was quite an interesting day. We had big right-hand phases, followed by left-hand phases. It was quite shifty but it made the racing really interesting. I had a reasonable day.”

“It’s going to be a quite high scoring regatta, and especially considering my broken finger I am happy hanging in there when we’ve had free pumping every race.” He is hoping for no more free pumping for the rest of the week.

 

Facundo Olezza – photo c Robert Deaves

 

Olezza moves up to third after three top four places in a row.

“It’s very tricky because there are a lot of boats and it is very shifty and puffy all over the race course, so sometimes you just need to be a little bit lucky, and just look around.”

He is also not at his best this week with an illness. “Tough four races, with full free pumping. I am not in my best shape but will just sail the best I can. The first race [Monday] was not so good for me, but the next three were all top five so I am happy with that and looking forward to some more consistency.”

Wright has perhaps the most inconsistent scoreline so far with two wins, a 58th and a 19th. The former World Champion sits in 12th overall.

After winning the first race today, he was very deep in the second and struggling.

“It wasn’t looking too good at one stage. It’s one of those places where you can take some big chunks out of the fleet on the shifts. I managed to get lucky and round the second top mark pretty well. I went right at the bottom and left at the top. I think the right just ran out of pressure and I had a nice pressure on the left.”

“It’s quite choppy so a bit more pressure over the waves is a big help.”

Lobert could have come ashore with two bullets, but was nevertheless still less happy with a 9,2.

“In the first race I missed the right shift, and in the second race, I was a bit scared from the right in case it happened again so I was staying in the middle, and then it came from the left. You cannot control everyone.”

“It’s a bit frustrating but in those conditions you have to take what you have and in the end it’s two top ten, which is good, and will be a good average. It was a good day in the end.”

 

Nicholas Heiner – photo c Robert Deaves

 

 

It’s a big fleet with big start lines, big shifts and big pressure changes, with lots of sailors already picking up some big points. So it’s no real surprise that only one person in the top 10 has won a race. That could all change tomorrow when with one more race the discard comes in and we start to get a real picture of what is happening. Initial forecasts showed the wind dipping towards the end of the week, so all the sailors will be keen to make every race count.

Check out the links below to follow the racing on Twitter and Facebook. Most mark roundings and finishes are broadcast on Facebook Live through the Finn Class page.

 

Results after four races

1 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert FRA 27

2 SWE 33 Max Salminen SWE 31

3 ARG 48 Facundo Olezza ARG 37

4 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis GRE 38

5 POL 17 Piotr Kula POL 42

6 NED 89 Nicholas Heiner NED 52

7 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz HUN 57

8 CZE 5 Ondrej Teply CZE 62

9 GBR 91 Ben Cornish GBR 66

10 GBR 1 Henry Wetherell GBR 74

 

Highlights video to follow at FINN TV and on Facebook.

 

by Robert Deaves

 

 

Nenad Bugarin masters Balaton breeze on opening day 

 

Nenad Bugarin – Photo c Robert Deaves

 

2017 Opel Finn Gold Cup

 

Nenad Bugarin, from Croatia, is the early leader at the 2017 Opel Finn Gold Cup at Balatonföldvár, Hungary. Two very tricky races in shifty and patchy conditions left much of the fleet with at least one high score, but home favourite, Zsombor Berecz is second, with Piotr Kula, from Poland, in third. Ed Wright, from Britain, won the first race, while Bugarin won the second.

The time for preparation had ended and it was time to race. In the end, 113 Finns made it to the start line for some tight and tricky racing with the wind shifting hugely and varying from 10-16 knots.

After two false starts and a general recall, Oisin Mcclelland, from Ireland, rounded the top mark in Race 1 in first place after favouring the middle right. Jonathan Lobert, from France, was second at the top and briefly took the lead downwind before the right side came past in more pressure. But it was Wright, who led through the gate and extended up the second beat with a nice lead.

The right side came in strong on the second beat with Anders Pedersen, from Norway, coming through into second. The fleet closed up on Wright on the final downwind as the search for pressure became paramount. Lobert came through for second at the finish, while Berecz passed some boats to cross third.

There were huge pressure changes across the course, as well as wind shifts to cope with, and with such a large fleet the leverage from left to right was massive. If Race 1 was hard enough race 2, was about to get a whole lot harder.

Race 2 was started without Oscar, though it was raised at the top mark as the wind passed 10 knots. The corners were strong with those who bailed out of the left early struggling at the top. Facundo Olezza, from Argentina, rounded first from Deniss Karpak, from Estonia and Bugarin.

Karpak had been third for a while in the first race but had got lost on the second beat and dropped 20 places. In the second race he was good enough to hold his position and the top three boats separated from the fleet. Bugarin sailed well to take the lead on the second upwind and then sailed away from the fleet for a comfortable win, from Olezza and Karpak.

Lobert, the current European Champion, ended the day in fifth overall, and was happy with his day, despite a 15th in the second race.

“It’s hard to say what to do today. It was just ‘where is the wind’? I was just trying to use what I had and make the best of it.”

“In the first race we didn’t tack so much as they were quite big gusts and big shifts, but in the second race, it was very tricky. I think there were two winds, one from the right and sometimes one was coming from the left so you had to be at the right place when the wind was coming in. I was a bit unlucky at the beginning but at the end the left came back and it was a good call.”

Fourth placed Max Salminen, from Sweden, said, “I think the fleet was really keen to get racing, and we saw that at the start of the first race, but once we got away we had a really good race. It was shifty as we expected and back and forth and you had to be on your toes all the time – but that’s lake sailing.”

“I think in this big fleet and in these conditions, you have to be happy with what you get.”

 

Zsombor Berec – photo c Robert Deaves

 

The pressure on the race area is matched by the local pressure placed on the shoulders of Berecz, who delighted local supporters to end the day in second overnight.

“In the first race, I was always in the front. The second was a bit tougher for me as I missed one shift at the very last quarter of the first upwind and I put myself back into about 40th. But on the second upwind I gained it all back and managed to finish sixth, so a good day for me.”

Asked whether local knowledge gave him an advantage, “I don’t know this water at all. I know the other side much more. I was only sailing here when I was in Optimists, but actually, around the lake, it’s all the same in this wind direction. It’s very tricky, changing every two minutes or so, so let’s say I am quite used to it.”

Any secrets? “We can say there is a tendency in the wind and if you can find it and you can use it your way, then you can succeed.”

But the undisputed star of the first day was Bugarin. A fourth and a first is a great performance on a challenging day.

“I managed to have two good races. I did well all the time. It was tricky outside and my strategy was just to stay in clear air all the time and have the freedom to tack. That’s pretty much it.”

“Before the starts, I didn’t have a vision of what to do and the strategy was just to sail fast in clear air and I managed to do that two times and had really good speed upwind and downwind, so I am pretty happy after the first day.”

As one old and wise coach offered today, that in conditions like these, you are either very good or very unlucky. The good and the unlucky enjoyed a pizza party after racing and can look forward to two more races on Tuesday in slightly less wind but probably at least the same amount of trickiness.

Racing continues Tuesday at 10.00.

Follow the races using the links below.

 

 

Results after two races

1 CRO 52 Nenad Bugarin 5

2 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 9

3 POL 17 Piotr Kula 12

4 SWE  33 Max Salminen 13

5 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 16

6 EST 2 Deniss Karpak 21

7 CZE 5 Ondrej Teply 21

8 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 25

9 NED 89 Nicholas Heiner 29

10 ARG 48 Facundo Olezza 30

 

Full results here.