Crushing Conditions Greet Olympic Worlds
Published on February 9th, 2016
The 2016 World Championship for the Nacra 17, 49er, and 49erFX – the three fastest Olympic sailing events – is February 9-14 in Clearwater, FL. Over 120 teams from more than 37 countries will be competing in front of the Pier on Clearwater Beach. Here’s a report from February 9…
Challenging conditions permitted only one race for the Men’s 49er and Mixed Nacra 17, while the Women’s 49erFX fleets were held onshore. With winds building past the teens, the shallow venue created steep and short waves that proved too much for the high performance fleets.
Adding to the drama is the treacherous channel that the fleets must pass through to reach the ocean venue. The opening to the channel leading into the racing area is particularly shallow, and shallow waters are the 49er’s ultimate enemy. A total of six masts were snapped after today’s boat-breaking conditions.
Brad Funk and Trevor Burd, who have been the top U.S. performers in the 49er since 2014, topped the North American contingent with a seventh place finish. “We got through it, and had a good race,” said Funk. “We were talking a lot on the boat throughout the race today, feeding each other information and trying to minimize mistakes. We kept risky tacks and gybes to a minimum, and finished strong.”
Canadians Luke Ramsay and Nikola Girke, who are eager to convince their country to select them for the Rio Games, were the top North American Nacra 17 team in 13th place. Two-time Olympic Tornado medalist Randy Smyth, who is at the event as a coach, thought the new Nacra 17 presented interesting challenges for sailors. “The cool thing about the Nacra 17 is that it has so many gears. You have to totally change your setup even between tacks on the same leg. You’re forever trying to find the right control configuration to achieve maximum speed.”
The women are scheduled to start racing at 11am tomorrow EST. Weather reports seem to appear a bit lighter for tomorrow, although it’s unlikely we’ve seen the last of the big breeze this week.