Semi finals begin at Nations Cup
Published on April 13th, 2019
San Francisco, CA (April 13, 2019) – The fourth day at World Sailing’s Nations Cup Grand Final is getting to the bitter end as Pauline Courtois (FRA) and Pearson Potts (USA) lead the Women’s and Open division after two flights sailed in the semifinals with the first to score three wins to advance to the finals.
Stage 3 round robin racing finished earlier in the day with Courtois, Nicole Breault (USA), Anna Östling (SWE) and Juliana Senfft (BRA) advancing to the semifinal while Allie Blecher (USA) and Clare Costanzo where eliminated, finishing 5th and 6th.
Maxime Mesnil (FRA), the Open division leader thus far, advanced with Potts, James Hodgson (AUS) and Henrique Haddad (BRA). Eliminated was Nick Egnot-Johnson (NZ) in 5th, and defending Nations Cup champion Vladimir Lipavsky in 6th overall.
Courtois had a rough morning, scoring just one point in five matches, but came back with two solid wins versus Östling. Breault, as the highest ranked competitor in Stage 3, selected Senfft as her competitor for the semifinals.
Breault won their first match but in the second, Senfft won the start and carried a slim lead around the course. During the last downwind leg, she luffed Breault, pressuring her off to the south and then smoothly gybed around to slide over the finish, while Breault stalled out on the wrong side of the line. Each finished the day 1-1.
Mesnil, as the leader heading into the semis, selected Potts who went on to score two wins against him in very close racing from start to finish.
Meanwhile, plenty of sparks flew between Haddad and Hodgson as they battled closely in their first faceoff, with Haddad ultimately scoring four penalties and clearing just two of them. During their second race, Haddad sailed with a cooler head, but during a dial down Hodgson luffed and hit the port side of Haddad’s boat.
As a result, Hodgson was penalized on the water but at a subsequent hearing relating to the damage, the committee of three umpires designated the damage as level B, carrying a negative penalty of three-quarters of a race win.
“It shows we’re both going pretty hard,” said Hodgson, who hopes to be more disciplined tomorrow. “We had a nice handshake on the dock, which goes to show the level of competition at this event. We’ve never had to work so hard for every win.”
“The intensity of racing increased throughout the day, as did the conditions,” said Michael O’Connor, Nations Cup Working Party Chair in World Sailing. Citing the 18-20 knot westerly and flooding tide, he added. “It was hard, tough conditions, forcing the very best from the sailors and teams. Very close racing on the edge as the semifinals commenced.”
Semifinals continue tomorrow with racing commencing at 10:00PST; the first with three wins will advance to the finals, with a petit-final raced for third and fourth place.
The event is held in J/22s on April 10-14, 2019. For event format, click here.
About the Nations Cup
The inaugural Nations Cup in 1991 saw six regional qualifiers in each of Denmark, Italy, Greece, Brazil, Bermuda and Japan, with the Grand Final in Barcelona, Spain. At that time only sailed in an Open division, the title was won by Ed Baird (USA). The 1991 Nations Cup Grand Final was the climax of over 1,000 races sailed by some 50 countries.
Moving onto 1993, preceding the Grand Final in Holland, the qualifiers were held in Finland, France, United Arab Emirates, Peru, USA and Singapore, with Roy Heiner (NED) taking the Open Title and Helena Strang (SWE) the Women’s event.
The 1995 event saw San Francisco, USA host the Grand Final, with the qualifying events in South Africa, Croatia, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada and Chile. The Open Event was won by South Africa’s Bruce Savage, with the Women’s title claimed by Susan Walters (AUS).
The ISAF Nations Cup was successfully re-launched in 2006 with eight Regional Finals leading to the Grand Final in Cork, Ireland. France completed a double victory with skippers Mathieu Richard and Claire Leroy leading their teams to victory in both the Open and the Women’s division.
In 2009 competitors from more than 40 nations contested the Regional Finals held in Antibes, Auckland, Brindisi, Buenos Aires, Charleston, Kinsale, and Mumbai, whilst Porto Alegre in Brazil played the host of the Grand Final. Brazil saw some of the world’s best match racers representing their countries, but France repeated their achievement of 2006 to win both titles again with skippers Claire Leroy and Damien Iehl.
The 2011 ISAF Nations Cup Grand Final was hosted in Sheboygan, USA. Claire Leroy won her third consecutive title for France with Laurie Jury skippering a New Zealand team to victory in the Open event.
In 2013 Denmark won the rights to host the Nations Cup in Middelfart with the support of the Triangle region. Australia’s David Gilmour the 22-year-old son of Peter Gilmour brought home the Cup to Australia and the Women’s title went to Brazil with Juliana Senfft as skipper – the first ever Nations Cup victory for Brazil.
Vladivostok, Russia hosted the last edition of the Nations Cup in 2015. Russia’s Vladimir Lipavsky took the title in the Open division and Nicole Breault from the United States of America claimed the Women’s title.
Source: St. Francis Yacht Club