Dicey winds start Sailing World Championships

Published on August 2nd, 2018

Aarhus, Denmark (August 2, 2018) – Out of a mixture of modesty and misinterpretation sportsman often talk up luck. Sailors are no different, but on and opening day to Hempel Sailing World Championships Aarhus 2018, when the words “shifty”, “tricky” and “lucky” were thrown about the boat park faster than in a Vegas casino, the cream rose to the top.

Only one race was possible for each of the two men’s 470 fleets (65 boats were split into two fleets), but the first was won comfortably in the end by the Swedish 2018 European Champions, Anton Dahlberg and Frederik Bergström and the second by the Greek bronze medallists in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis.

“We were expecting the weather to be challenging but not as hard as it was today,” Bergström. “We’re expecting a tough championship for sure.”

Behind the Swedes, the Australia’s perennial favourites, Mat Belcher and William Ryan, came back from 14th to finish strongly in third. The silver medallists in Rio, gold medallist in London 2012, and winners of the last two World Championships, kept patient and chipped away on each beat and run.

“As a sailor trying to race in those conditions, you’ve got to be a bit lucky and you also have got to just try and be patient,” said Belcher. “We had a great start, tried to consolidate and then found ourselves at the back in 15th or 16th at the top mark. But I guess the strength of our partnership is that we just keep chipping away. We’re stoked to finish third. It’s an awesome, challenging venue and I guess that’s part of being at the Worlds right, it’s supposed to be a test.”

The women’s 470 (47 boats in one fleet) started to follow the same pattern as racing continued late with Switzerland’s Linda Fahrni and Maja Siegenthaler, winners of the Test Event in Aarhus this time last year, dominated from start to finish. But it was the French who had the best day. Camille Lecointre – the Rio bronze medallist – and her new crew, Aloise Retornaz, were a clear second in the first race and managed sixth in second race, where the Swiss finished thirteenth.

With so many changes in the women’s fleet crews in the last couple of years, the results were not such a surprise. Britain’s gold medallist in Rio, Hannah Mills and her new crew Eilidh McIntyre (GBR), had a tougher day, in this mammoth field, finishing 9th and 14th to lie 8th overall.

In the Finn, both fleets (90 sailors from 41 countries split into two fleets of 45) managed one race and the first was won by the 25-year-old Brazilian favourite, Jorge Zarif, who was fourth in Rio but has dominated 2018.

After waiting four hours for wind, Zarif moved through the fleet in a beautiful southeasterly of 8-10 knots. Zarif is the son of the late Jorge Zarif Neto, who finished eighth in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics

Brazil’s most decorated sailors, Torben Grael and Robert Scheidt, here to support another strong Brazilian team, were in the boat park to offer him encouragement.

In the second fleet, Croatia’s Josip Olujic, was more of an outside winner, leading from start to finish. Max Salminen, who won gold in the Star class at the London 2012 Olympics, the Finn class world championship last year and is ranked second in the world behind Zarif in 2018, stormed back to finish third.

This is likely to be a week of high scores. You can’t win a regatta on the first day, but you can lose one, especially with only one discard for the week. New names always emerge at World Championships, but the best keep showing that they find a way whatever the conditions.

North America update: Nobody did too well today, and even one of the US 470 teams joined others to get the race tossed for unfairness but their effort was denied. Tom Ramshaw (CAN) tops the Finns in 17th, Wiley Rogers/ Jack Parkin (USA) lead the 470 M in 47th, and Nikole Barnes/ Lara Dallman-Weiss (USA) are 40th in the 470 W.

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The Sailing World Championships, held once every four years for all ten Olympic classes, has 1,400 sailors from 85 nations in close to 1,000 boats for competition on August 2-12.

There are also two kiteboarding events competing, which along with the Olympic classes, have their competition staggered from August 2 to 12. The provisional schedule has five events racing tomorrow: Finn, 470 M and W, Laser, and Laser Radial. Click here for schedule.

In addition to World titles, the event is the first and largest country qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with 40% of the places being decided. For information on how nations qualify for the 2020 Olympics, click here.

Source: World Sailing

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