Finals Begin at 29er Worlds
Published on July 28th, 2016
Medemblik, Netherlands (July 28, 2016) – With qualifying complete, it was about damage control on the first day of the final series of the 29er Worlds 2016. Gwendal Nael and Lilian Mercier from France won this game and have taken over the lead, followed by their fellow countrymen Benjamin Jaffrezic and Léo Chauvel.
The inconsistent breeze today caused some serious ups and downs amongst the Gold, Silver, Bronze and Emerald fleets. The Australian winners of the qualifying series are now in third position. Aleksandra Melzacka and Maja Micinski from Poland made an impressive gain, by climbing from place 42 to 6 on the leader board.
“It was a lot more tactical racing than yesterday,” said Race official René Kallf upon arrival in the harbour.
The finals started this morning with a nice western breeze of 8-9 knots. While the bronze fleet was finishing its third race, the wind direction suddenly changed to the south. As a result, all other races were cancelled and the waiting game commenced. After two hours of keeping up nerves and concentration, the meanwhile north northwestern breeze was stable enough for today’s last race with 5-7 knots.
Gwendal Nael and Lilian Mercier remained consistent with 6-8-8, which pushed them from fourth to first position overall with a fifteen points lead. Yesterday’s leaders Tom Crockett and Harry Morton from Australia commenced with two steady results (5-5), but got it wrong in the third race, resulting in a 30thplace. Since there is no discard yet, they had to carry that bad result. They are now third overall, but on equal points with second placed Benjamin Jaffrezic and Léo Chauvel and with Crispin Beaumont and Tom Darling behind them.
“It was a decent day, pretty average,” said Crispin Beaumont and Tom Darling. The British sailors scored 8-16-14. “The conditions were tricky. We got some consistent results in, so we are quite happy to not having really bad ones in that fickle wind. Lots of teams were up and down on the scores.”
Beaumont and Darling are in their third 29er year together: ‘So, we know each other pretty well. We are just hoping that our last Worlds, which is this one, pays off and that we get a good result.”
Quinn Wilson and Riley Gibbs from the United States were less fortunate in the variable circumstances. They dropped from the third to the twentieth position.
By finishing 2-1-7 Melzacka and Micinski are back in the lead of all female teams, one place ahead of their Australian competitors Annabelle Davies and Hayley Clark. The Polish girls had a promising start of the Worlds. They were seventeenth overall after the first three qualifying races, but then they lost more and more ground.
“We were not that consistent in the qualifying series, because we were struggling in the strong winds yesterday. We are quite light, so we had some problems. The day before we had a DNF, because of lack of wind. Only the top 15 boats managed to finish that race,” explained Melzacka and Micinski. They just made the cut for the Gold fleet and today the tide turned with their best score of the day 2-1-7.
“In the second race, we were top five and took over the lead at the end of the first downwind. We were pretty fast. In the last race we had a very bad start, but we stayed focused and did not give up. I don’t know how it happened, but we finished seventh.”
The weather forecast for tomorrow looks hopeful for those who prefer stronger winds, as the breeze will be 12 to 18 knots, first coming from the southwest and later shifting to the west. Four races are scheduled.
Racing for the 228 teams is scheduled for July 25-30.
Source: Diana Bogaards, 29er Worlds