470 Worlds: Game on in Argentina
Published on February 19th, 2016
The 2016 470 World Championships will be raced February 22-27 on the waters off Club Nautico in San Isidro, a province just north of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The provisional entry list for the 2016 470 World Championship counts 81 teams from 27 nations covering the six continents of the world.
Whilst the biggest focus in 2016 is undoubtedly the Olympic Games, success at the 470 World Championships and securing a podium finish in this final countdown to Rio is equally key. Teams are drilling into their final weeks of training, maximizing strengths and reducing weaknesses.
Racing a World Championships has a different pressure compared to the Olympics, but the quest for gold is no doubt tougher with more of the world’s top teams in contention in San Isidro than will be on the starting line in Rio. Teamwork and intelligence wins a 470 World Championship and the week ahead will be a masterclass of sailing skills.
The preceding South American Championship served as an ideal warm-up, with racing on the same waters as for the 470 Worlds. A well-run event, the South Americans served up a mix of challenging and enjoyable racing and proved the experience of the Race Committee.
In sailing you can’t control the environment, you can only control how you respond to it and amongst the best at that are the multiple and reigning World Champions, Mat Belcher/Will Ryan of Australia and Lara Vadlau/Jola Ogar from Austria. To win teams need superior talent across all wind and sea conditions, and both will be looking to assert their authority at this last 470 Worlds before the Olympics.
After registration and equipment inspection, the race programme features eleven fleet races and one medal race over six days of racing on February 22-27.
A bulletproof mindset, self-belief, mental toughness, precision manoeuvres will keep you ahead of your rivals. Skills defending World Champions, Mat Belcher/Will Ryan, have in abundance. So, no surprise to find them headlining the South American Championship warm-up event.
“It has helped us learn a little about the local conditions and also introduced us to the local ‘Camelotte’ plants which have been quite abundant these last week,” said Ryan. “It is special to win anything, but particularly to win the South American Championships for the first time with Mat! We are now looking forward to the Worlds.”
Behind the punishingly accurate partnership of Belcher/Ryan, there are numerous teams in contention, something Belcher is more than well aware of.
“There are simply too many teams to mention. We have always taken the view to focus on ourselves and try and get that right first. One of the things I love about 470’s is the depth in quality within the fleet. There are so many teams that given their day/week can take out this Championship. It’s going to be a tough week’s racing.”
The hugely experienced world #2 partnership of Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic came close to unseating the Australians at the 2015 Worlds, going into the Medal Race just 1 point adrift, but couldn’t get themselves ahead around the track, settling for silver. The pair have stood on the podium at all but one World Championship in the past seven years – adding to their silver in 2015 with a silver in 2014, bronze in 2012, 2011, 2010 and gold in 2009.
Americans Stuart McNay/David Hughes are set to fly their nation’s flag in Rio, a third time Olympic appearance for McNay and debut for Hughes. On a roll and fresh from winning the USA Triple Crown Series in January 2016- with victories at the USA 470 Nationals, 470 North Americans and Sailing World Cup Miami – they are more than able to deliver. Add a win at the 2015 470 Europeans, and perhaps this year will be the time to pull a podium finish at a 470 Worlds.
Here Stu and Dave offer their comments on the 2016 Worlds…
What are the conditions you expect from the upcoming Worlds?
Stu: A unique challenge so far have been the ‘camalote’, a sea weed type invasive plant. There has been a bloom of them here this Argentinian summer. The regatta will go on, but it’s a significant added variable that the sailors must face. The regatta is sailed in a river delta, so the water in brackish, which makes the boat feel different as it sits deeper in the water. The depth is shallow, which makes for particularly steep and slow chop.
Dave: We are prepared for a bit of everything. Any number of breeze scenarios could materialize, as we’ve seen in our training. The first days look to be light, but we’ll be ready for whatever is eventually thrown at us.
What are your goals for the Worlds?
Stu: Our performance goal is to win the Worlds. There are many process goals that, if achieved, will lead to this result.
Dave: As always, go into the Medal Race with the opportunity and focus to win the regatta.
How many teams have a chance to win the World title?
Stu: There are 10 teams who could win the Worlds and maybe 20 teams who could be top three. There is very little difference in skill between many teams, so it will come down to who can put their best foot forward when it matters. It’s largely a mental game at this point.
Dave: Probably the strongest teams include Argentina, Australia, Croatia, Great Britain, Greece, Spain, and us.
The world #6 French partnership of Sofian Bouvet/Jeremie Mion are former Junior World and Junior European Champions in both 2009 and 2010. Familiar with the Olympic race track in Brazil, they finished 2nd at the 2015 Rio Test Event. They won the 2013 470 Europeans, but are yet to even get a sniff of the podium at a 470 Worlds, or even secure a top ten finish. Silver for them at the South Americans could just be the boost they need.
It is almost déjà vu for Greece’s Panagiotis Mantis/Pavlos Kagialis as they find themselves fighting their second Olympic campaign. The world #4 duo secured Greece’s slot at London 2012, but lost out on national selection by a whisker. They repeated the feat for Rio 2016, and again are in battle for selection against the same team that beat them last time around. But this quad, Mantis/Kagialis have the edge, not least in their confidence, with bronze medals from the 2014 and 2013 470 Worlds. For them the last selection event will be the 470 Europeans in April, and for now it is all about measuring up against the world’s best as they get ready for the battle of their lives come the Europeans.
Teams from Spain and Sweden are in the same boat metaphorically speaking. World #7 Onan Barreiros/Juan Curbelo Cabrera race off against Jordi Xammar/Joan Herp and Rayco Tabares/Alfredo Gonzalez for Spain’s national selection slot. Hard to forget witnessing the young pretenders Xammar/ Herp win the medal races at both the 2015 and 2014 470 Worlds. Four years after first ever competing at a 470 Worlds, do they now have the right mix of youth and experience to edge out the senior teams and carry the Spanish flag to Rio? Sweden’s world #11 team of Anton Dahlberg/Fredrik Bergström (SWE) and world #14 combo of Johan Molund/Sebastian Östling will also be chasing their own battle.
Giving the final world in the 470 men fleet preview to Will Ryan, it is important to never underestimate what an Olympic campaign means
“Approaching Rio it is quite daunting as it is something which I have been ultimately working torwards for such a long time. 6 months out I feel extremely fortunate that Mat and I as a team have now been nominated and have qualified for the Games, and that we can now focus to be able to put our best foot forward in August. I can only imagine what it is like to be an Olympian and to compete at the Olympics – and as you can imagine I am extremely looking forward to it!”
There is plenty of talent to make this World Championship far from over until the last second of the last race, and there is most distinctly an air of unfinished business ahead of Olympics.
The world ranked #3 team of Lara Vadlau/Jola Ogar (AUT) count back to back World Championship titles in 2014 and 2015 on their scorecard. Their form has not diminished, and they have every opportunity to make it three in a row in 2016.
Vadlau’s acceleration through the ranks of the 470 class has been meteoric. She is a shining example of grit and determination, since first taking to the Olympic stage in 2012 and relatively fresh to the 470 aged just 18 years old. Vadlau finished at the back of the pack in London 2012, but four years later the Vadlau/Ogar success story has every shot at Olympic gold.
Also installed as favourites and sitting ahead on the World Rankings is the British world #1 pairing of Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark, who secured Worlds silver in 2015 and bronze in 2014. Never out of the frontrunners are the world ranked #3 team and 2012 Olympic Champions Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie, who secured silver at the 2014 470 Worlds, won in 2013, as well as stepping to the podium with a bronze in 2011 and silver in 2010.
France’s Camille Lecointre/Helene Defrance sit well up in the mix, particularly having won the South Americans. The world #5 team have finished inside the top 5 at every 470 Worlds since 2012, including silver in 2012 and bronze in 2015. Lecointre finished 4th at London 2012 with a different crew.
Japan’s Ai Kondo Yoshida/Miho Yoshioka is the world #4 team and already confirmed to compete at Rio. Since partnering up in 2014, aside from just two events, they have consistently finished inside the top 10, and kickstarted their Worlds podium bid with a bronze at the South Americans last week.
Afrodite Kyranakou/Anneloes Van Veen already have Olympics selection in the bag, so it is all about climbing that leaderboard for them and upgrading their fifth from last year.
Amongst those in the pressure of securing national selection are the USA’s Annie Haegar/Briana Provancha, who are head to head with Sydney Bolger/Carly Shevitz. Haegar/Provancha hold the results upper hand, delivering a game plan which saw them claim an enviable win at last year’s Rio Test Event, a second at the 2016 South Americans and third at the 2015 470 Europeans. But there is no let-up in this sport, and past results don’t count for Olympic selection.
“The US trials consist of two events the first being the 2016 470 Worlds,” explained Haegar. “Your overall place is the amount of points that you carry over to the following event, which in our case is the European Championship in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Whoever has less points after both events are over wins! “
Giving her take on the all critical approach team work makes in sailing a 470, Haegar said, “For Briana and me, the key ingredients are clear communication, lots of laughs and one goal larger than us. When we have a rough day on the water, we try to not let it carry over to the next day. Staying in the present and having a friend when times get tough seems to be the best recipe for us.”
The learning curve keeps on growing though. “With the Games 6 months out, we still have a lot of learning to do,” commented Haeger. “We are looking forward to the journey ahead and ready for any and all challenges.”
Five Spanish teams are in the tussle to secure Olympic selection. Marina Gallego/Fatima Reyes are frontrunners, but in a similar criteria to the American teams it is all about performance at just two events that counts, and whoever finishes best overall at both of the 2016 470 Worlds and 2016 470 Europeans secures the ticket.
“We have to fight it during this Worlds and the Europeans to get closer,” explained Gallego. “We have worked a lot over the years to try and reach our dream of participating in our first Olympic Games. But still we have a long way to go over the next months. It’s not a secret. It’s hard work and always trying to be better than the day before.”
China fields three teams in battle for national selection. World #9 pairing and winners of World Cup Miami are Shasha Chen/Haiyan Gao, who will be chased by world #12 pairing Xiaomei Xu/Ping Zhang (CHN) and world #27 teams of Xiaoli Wang/Llizhu Huang. Wang is hunting down a second Olympic appearance, having finished 11th at London 2012.
Aussie success continues for the Ryan family, with two of Will Ryan’s three younger sisters, Jaime and Sasha, in the battle for Olympic selection, although in separate partnerships.
“As a close family – it is really special that we can experience and enjoy the unique opportunities of an Olympic campaign all together,” said Will. “It is something my whole wider family is really proud and supportive of. I do my best to be a good big brother to all of my sisters, however most of that is normal everyday life, and they all know I will do anything I can do to help any of them.”
We’ve given you a snapshot of just some of the teams from around the world in contention, and there is plenty more firepower amongst the rest of the line-up in the 470 Men and Women fleets.
THE NEXT GENERATION
The next generation is already well and truly inspired by the current 470 stars, with a wealth of young talent hoping to give the big names a run for their money.
In the 470 Men ranks are the 2014 420 World Championship silver medallists and 2014 420 Junior European Gold Medallists Hippolyte Machetti/Sidoine Dantes of France, who stepped to the 470 immediately after their podium claims. Making first time appearances at a senior 470 World Championships are Argentina’s own Agustin Romero/Fermin Jacobs and Italy’s Giacomo Ferrari/Giulio Calabro. The Argentineans made their first foray into the 470 at the 2014 470 Junior Worlds, finishing 9th, only making the permanent switch in the past 10 months. The young Italian partnership are also from the 420 stable with
Chile’s pair of Nadja Horwitz/Sofia Middleton secured their nation’s place in Rio at the South American Continental Qualificaiton event during World Cup Miami and now want to prove they have what it takes to deliver in Rio. At the USA Triple Crown Series last month, they secured bronze at the 470 Nationals, and top 10 at both the 470 North Americans and World Cup Miami.
Just two and a half years ago, Canada’s Allison Surette/Alexandra Ten Hove (CAN) were competing at the 2013 420 World Championships in Valencia, where they finished 44th and the ISAF Youth Worlds in Limassol securing an 18th place. Having secured Canada’s place to Rio last month, this world ranked #54 team are on a mission to prove to their nation’s decision makers that they are worthy contenders to take up the slot.
The format for the 470 World Championship is 10 fleet races, followed by a double-points medal race on Saturday 27 February for the top ten teams advancing from the fleet race series.
Teams from 6 Continents / 27 Nations: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, USA
Source: 470 class, Stu McNay, Dave Hughes