ISAF Sailing Worlds continue to be plagued by weather

Published on September 17th, 2014

Santander, Spain (September 17, 2014) – After five days of fickle conditions, the sixth day of racing at the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships sought to get caught up with 64 scheduled races. But gusting winds up to 30 knots led to delays, with a decreasing breeze during the day allowing all 10 fleets, except the Nacra 17, to get in some racing.

The Laser and Laser Radial have completed their series and the top 10 in each fleet will now advance to Thursday’s Medal Races. The 49er, Finn and Men’s RS:X completed their qualification series whilst the 49erFX need to complete two further races and the Men’s 470 one to complete theirs. Racing in the Women’s RS:X and Women’s 470 resumed with gold fleet competition.

The challenging conditions have tested both competitors and race management, with criticism mounting for the later. Here are some of the comments posted today on Facebook:

“What a day – no racing for our group today. To say I’m frustrated is putting it mildly.”

“After the first 3 days of racing at the ISAF World Championships we have complete 1 30 minute race. This Olympic racing is tough.”

“Today was a joke, the Laser gold and Radial gold fleets spent 7 hours on the water and only sailed one race due to RC incompetence, and there were empty course areas most of the day … It’s not often that you feel it was a waste of time to travel to a regatta.”

“They kept us onshore almost all day. Waited until the storm blew itself out before lowering our AP flag. Spent 2 hours drifting around before calling it a day. No races completed.”

Roger McMillan of reports:
To be fair to the organizers, the conditions have been terrible. But even allowing for the conditions, race management has been appalling. It is hard to find anyone with a good word to say about the way the event has been conducted. The problem for the race officers controlling the various courses is that they are not left to make the decisions themselves. ISAF insists that each course has an ITO, which I assume stands for International Technical Officer, overseeing each course and able to tell the race officer what to do. And then there is the overall Principal Race Officer who can overrule the ITOs. It’s a classic case of too many cooks. As a result, we have races being started when they shouldn’t, races not being started when they should, marks going missing, boats going missing, sailors becoming angry and disillusioned…

Laser Radial
Evi Van Acker (BEL) gained valuable points for the Medal Race and got closer to the top three overall who adopted a more careful strategy. “I had a good start at the committee boat end. It was a good wind and I rounded the first mark 4th or 5th and then went hard right on the second windward leg whilst most of the fleet went left. I got a nice shift and moved up to first. It is a pity we could not race more races today.”

Ann-Marie Rindom (DEN) also helped her overall position going into the Medal Race, “It was really windy when we got out to the start. When we eventually started my start was not very good because my mainsheet was stuck to my rudder. But I got fresh wind because I tacked to the right because I saw more wind on the right. You have to be quick in these conditions to take your chance. I was looking for the pressure and led round the first mark. The conditions were very up down and I was trying to cover the fleet but Evi passed me.”

Marit Bouwmeester (NED) sailed a conservative race to finish 12th but still has enough better positions in the bank to go into the Medal Race with a lead of 10 points. That means she has to finish in the top four places to win the championship title. However there are nine other sailors behind her trying to take a podium positon. Closest to Bouwmeester is Veronica Fenclova (CZE) and Josefin Olsson (SWE) who are both on 37 points and Van Acker is only three points more behind who would also like to take the title or at least a silver or bronze.


Matthew Wearn (AUS) finished his championship off on a high point mixing it with the rock stars and holding his own to take the winning gun ahead of Phillipp Buhl (GER) and Nick Thompson (GBR) in the single Laser race.

On the proceedings Thompson said, “It was a good technical race with lots of shifts. We mostly played the middle and we were swapping places most of the way round.”

Overnight leader Tom Burton (AUS) holds his lead and was relaxed when he told his story, “There was a lot of waiting and not much sailing but some events are like that. My race was not too bad. I got round the first mark in fourth but I got myself kind of stitched up on the second beat when I missed a persistent right shift and dropped to seventh. That could be costly but it was not a too bad race anyway.”

Burton goes into the Medal Race two points ahead of Thompson who in turn is only four points ahead of Nicholas Heiner (NED). Philipp Buhl (GER, who has hit a purple patch in the last three gold fleet races, is breathing down his neck.

Thompson has medalled three times at a world championship and after nine times world champion Robert Scheidt (BRA) in 6th place is the second most experienced sailor in the top ten. For sure he will be fighting hard to complete his medal set.

So the scene is set for an exciting Medal Race in both fleets tomorrow morning.

Laser and Laser Radial Reports courtesy of Jeff Martin, International Laser Class Association

Broadcast: ESPN3 will broadcast live coverage of the ISAF Sailing World Championships for 4 days on September 18-21. The live coverage features the Medal Race in each of the 10 Olympic events, and will be hosted by John Rawlings and Gary Jobson. On September 18 at 0800-1000 EDT is the Laser and Laser Radial. Click here to view.

The 49erFX had an explosive day, but in the end not much racing that counted. The day started off with a bang when the breeze kept building all morning. About half of the fleet managed to bear away after the first mark, but nobody could make it to the leeward marks and the race committee abandoned the racing. There were casualties, however, as in the big breeze there were a number of broken masts, a broken wrist, and a separated shoulder.

The fleets were sent home to wait out the squall, and by the time they came back out there was a decaying breeze that allowed the fleet to get one race in. They were racing in front of large crowds on the Duna course and Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Answorth (GBR) dominated from start to finish taking the win which puts them on the top of the leaderboard in a tie with two others.

Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) had to battle their way forward into the second place spot and likewise Jena Hansen and Katja Iversen (DEN) also had to make passes to take 3rd. The wind kept dying and it did not allow for any more racing for the 49erFX, who now stand at three races each over the three days so far. It is expected they will forgo their lay day to complete qualifying tomorrow.

The 49er racing was all about completing qualification and securing a spot in Gold fleet for the final part of the championship. The 49er racing started out with a final race of the yellow fleet to even up the fleets. They went out into big breeze and difficult conditions. Of the 40 boats racing only 19 managed to complete the course. It was complete carnage on the water, and heartbreak for Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign (GBR) who scored a DNF, effectively knocking themselves out of the championship.

For most of the rest of the contenders, the goal of making gold fleet was achieved. Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) had another stellar day with a 4, 1 and sit atop the leader board. Jonas Warrer and Anders Thomsen (DEN) had a pair of 3’s, Manu Dyen and Stephaine Christidis had a 4, 2, and Dave Gilmour and Rhys Mara (AUS) had a 4, 1.

The final race of the day was quite a special one. Struggling to find steady breeze outside, the course managers brought the 40 boat fleet to the Duna Medal Race course area for one final race. The area is restricted due to the shipping channel, so the 40 strong fleet raced a 4 lap race in over 15 knots that only took 16 minutes. The crowd were boisterous in approval of the amazing display of talent and boathandling required for these sailors to pull off such a feat of seamanship. The largest cheer of the day was for the Paz brothers who finished third in the race, which was just what they needed to secure one of the final gold fleet spots.

The fleet now turns its attention to Olympic qualifying. There are 14 countries represented in the gold fleet and 10 Olympic places on offer. Here are teams making it so far, bearing in mind there are protest being held at the time of press: NZL * 3, DEN, USA, AUS * 2, POR, ITA * 3, GBR * 5, FRA * 3, IRL, FIN, CRO, AUT, POL, ESP.

The battles for Olympic positions and the podium are shaping up.

49er and 49erFX Reports courtesy of Ben Remocker, International 49er Class Association


Giles Scott produced a dominant performance on the third day for Finns with three more race wins giving him a perfect score after four races sailed. The opening series is now complete, so from Thursday the fleet will sail in gold and silver fleets. Jonathan Lobert (FRA) recovered from a double capsize in the first race of the day to score 2, 4 and trail Scott by six points. Ed Wright (GBR) was unable to sail the opening race after picking a black flag disqualification in Tuesday’s abandoned race but channelled his energies into the remaining two races to pick up two race wins to sit in third overall.

It was a tough day for the fleet starting out with epic conditions with 20 plus knots of breeze which decreased through the day for a tricky final race with some major wind changes.

Scott summed up his day, “Early on it was pretty epic, but we had two hour wait because they couldn’t get the committee boat to hold station and then the last race turned a bit odd with the wind swinging through 180. The wind just kept going right all during the race.

“The shift was very gradual, but it wasn’t normal racing. But for me personally it was still a very good day so I am happy about that.”

Lobert said, “In the first race I had a double capsize. I had a great start, but it was very shifty and very turbulent so it wasn’t easy. I was top ten at the first mark so that was okay. I made a mistake downwind. One big gust came and I was surprised and capsized by the lee. It took me a while to get the boat up and I capsized again at the downwind mark. So I was full of water and it was race over for me.

“Then I tried to be in good shape for the next races. I got a second in the next race so that was good. I was also on the game in the next race. I was third at the downwind mark, and I lost a little bit, but managed to come back to fourth, so pretty happy with that. But now I know that I cannot make any more mistakes.”

Finn reports courtesy of Robert Deaves, International Finn Class Association

Men’s 470
The day kicked off with race 3 for the 470 Men blue fleet, to get them on equal races with the yellow fleet. An on-water postponement for around an hour was pretty challenging, in big breeze and big waves, as they waited for the Race Committee to re-set the course.

A useful win to Greece’s Panagotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) saw them leap up to third overall on the leaderboard.

Second place for Spain’s rising stars, and back to back 2013/2014 470 Junior World Champions, Jordi Xammar and Joan Herp marked a career best race result in senior fleet racing. With a leaderboard 19th place, the pair are now the highest placed home team after three races.

Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) continued their run of consistency, finishing race 3 in third and move up to second overall on the leaderboard.

Series leaders, Stuart McNay/David Hughes had a change of form, adding a 12th place finish to their otherwise perfect scoreline of two wins, but still retain pole position.

The blue fleet were then sent ashore, to the Spanish team’s relief, as Herp commented, “We left our lunch in the boat park, so we were happy to come and eat.”

Although delighted with their second place, it was almost a race win for the Spanish, “We started well, although the Greeks were better and had more pressure next to the Committee boat,” explained Herp. “We were next to the pin, where there was a bit less pressure, but we managed to go faster than the guys next to us, tacked and crossed, and were in the top 3 by the first mark.”

They headed upwind in a close pack with the Greeks and Croatians, passing both to take the lead from the second upwind leg and extended. Onto the last leg to the finish, and the Croatians forced the Spanish up on the reach, giving the opening for the Greeks to sail through and take the win. Regardless a really promising result for the young Spaniards.

After a brief break ashore the 470 Yellow and Blue fleets were sent back out to the race track, but the wind failed to deliver so no more racing. The pressure is now high intensity, with just two more days left to wrap up the qualification series and get the Gold and Silver fleet racing underway, before Medal Race day on Saturday.

Women’s 470
The 470 Women Gold Fleet were anticipating some big breeze conditions for today’s races 5 and 6, but by the time they got out on the race track and started just before 16:00 hours, the conditions had eased and were much lighter than anticipated.

It was a tight race 5 with under 20 seconds separating the top three finishers. Austria’s Lara Vadlau and Jola Ogar nailed the win, just ahead of Brazil’s Renata Decnop and Isabel Swan, chased by Japan’s Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka in third. The Austrians now leap to the top of the leaderboard, with the world #1 pairing of Camille Lecointre/Helene Defrance in second and the 2012 Olympic silver medallists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR) in 3rd.

Reigning Olympic and World Champions Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (NZL) sit in fifth place. As the only team in the Gold fleet counting an all top 10 scoreline of keeper results, they are just waiting for the opportunity to pounce on the teams ahead who all carry double-digit scores in their race series.

No race 6 for the Gold fleet, as the easing breeze became destabilized, forcing the Race Committee to abandon racing for the day.

For Japan’s Ai Kondo Yoshida, today’s third place finish underlined her decision to return to the Olympic fray. Kondo Yoshida has notched up appearances at Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics, then took a year out to consider her competitive future. “I have won some events, but never got a top result at the Olympics and that is a driving factor,” she said. “After taking some distance from competition, I just realised how much I love sailing and just wanted to be back.”

Kondo Yoshida’s Olympic campaign number 3 sees a new partnership with Miho Yoshioka, in a balance of experience and youth. Yoshioka is a decade younger than her helm and knows she has plenty to learn. “I am very excited,” said Yoshioka, “and lucky to team up with Ai. But our experience is very different as Ai is a top sailor and super sailor, so I feel the pressure on my shoulders to match that experience.”

470 Reports courtesy of Luissa Smith, International 470 Class Association

Schedule of Racing:
12-18 September, Laser and Laser Radial
13-19 September, RS:X Men and RS:X Women
14-20 September, 470 Men and 470 Women
15-21 September, 49er, 49erFX, Finn and Nacra 17

Live Blog – A live blog will follow the ISAF Worlds from Thursday 11 September through to Sunday 21 September. The live blog is available here

Event websiteComplete resultsCanada reportUSA report


Report by ISAF media Photo by

Background: The best talent in the sailing world has gathered for the ISAF Sailing World Championships, attracting over 1,250 sailors from 84 nations to compete in each of the 10 Olympic class world championships. Racing is staggered from September 12-21, and provides countries with their first opportunity to secure event berths for the 2016 Olympic Games.

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