Niner-Nacra Worlds gets underway
Published on February 11th, 2020
Geelong, Australia (February 11, 2020) – After high winds cancelled yesterday, a condensed qualification round got underway today at the 2020 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 World Championship.
With hopes of getting back on schedule, conditions today began with 8-12 knots of westerly before the breeze transitioned to the SSE, but not before collapsing to the point it was un-sailable for hours.
There will be at least one more day of qualification before the two skiff fleets are divided into Gold Fleets for the final three days while the 34-boat Nacra 17 fleet continues undivided.
49erFX & 49er
Former German 49erFX teammates combine beautifully to lead on the first day of racing – much to their surprise.
Tina Lutz’s regular crew Susann Beucke injured herself soon after the 2019 World Championship in Auckland and Lotta Wiemers agreed to step back into the boat to crew for the second half of the Down Under series of back-to-back world championships.
“I don’t know what happened today, we somehow went always in the right direction,” said a genuinely surprised and delighted Lutz. Added Wiemers, “I haven’t sailed for two-and-a-half years but I think we are doing a good job of finding the middle of pushing it, but [being relaxed too].”
Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey (GBR) won races one and two in the FXs then just bailed out of the top 10 to finish fifth overall. “We spend all year trying to maximize time in all different types of conditions and this venue is throwing us all sides of the dice,” Tidey said. “We’ve had a challenging day, everyone has, but I think we have come out of it pretty well.”
Second to the Germans was the Australian team of Tess Lloyd and Jaime Ryan and third the Spanish, Tamara Echegoyen and Paula Barcelo. “Over the last month we have been doing a lot of starting practice with many of the international crews who are here, and it is definitely paying off,” Lloyd said.
The 49ers made up the afternoon/evening session, the final race finishing close to 7pm due to the fleet being held ashore during the transition in the middle of the day.
First bite in the 49er class went to Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Stuart Bithell (GBR) and they followed up with a second win and a second to lead the Austrians, Ben Bildstein, and David Hussl.
“We only just managed to get to the racecourse in time today as we had to make some changes to the mast,” Fletcher-Scott said. “We snapped our top section a couple of days ago; put a new one on and rigged up today and had a little issue. In the end you can’t really start a Worlds any better than we did. Stu made the boat go fast and I picked a couple of shifts, together this was the winning combo.”
Third is current world champs Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL).
The racing started off in dramatic fashion for German Vice World Champions from 2019, Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel. Immediately following the first start a port tack boat crashed into them causing them to capsize, and Ploessel picked up a minor injury. They righted themselves to continue racing, rounding the windward mark in 25, but managed to work all the way up to 8th, salvaging the race.
First Nacra 17 points went to Aussie siblings Nathan and Haylee Outteridge, scoring a win then a second and a 10th to finish second overall. Enviable opening scores but the GBR team of John Gimson and Anna Burnet went one better, a 10th then two wins to be the lead multihull.
“It was a day that was dictated mainly by the seaweed in the water, a bit like in the warm-up regatta a week or so ago so we kind of knew what to expect,” Burnet said. “It’s a good start. We have lots of races to go but if we can carry on that form, then we will be pretty happy. We have a couple of windy days coming up.”
A beaming Haylee Outteridge returned to Eastern Beach and commented, “It’s really good to have three keepers today because it means it is effectively like having them in Gold Fleet. Most of the people who have committed to keep going this late in the quadrennial are the ones pushing to go to the Olympics, so we are in good company.”
The next two days has more breeze forecast on the Corio Bay racetrack, located in the south-west corner of Port Phillip, with up to 25 knots and then moderating. Drizzle and showers are likely.
Racing is planned for February 10 to 15 with three days of qualifying races before the three day final series to determine the title winner.
Event details: https://49er.org/event/2020-world-championship/
Tokyo 2020 Selection: The Worlds will finalize nomination for the USA Tokyo Team, with the finish position in this event to be added to the points total for selection. See the asterisk below for the team holding the advantage after day one:
Nacra 17 (3 races): 11. Sarah Newberry/ David Liebenberg; 18. Riley Gibbs/ Anna Weis*; 25. Ravi Parent/ Caroline Atwood
49er (3 races): 5. Andrew Mollerus/ Ian MacDiarmid; 7. Harry Melges/ Finn Rowe; 19. Nevin Snow/ Dane Wilson*
49erFX (3 races): 7. Stephanie Roble/ Maggie Shea*; 31. Paris Henken/ Anna Tobias
Note: USA did not qualify for Tokyo in the 49er event but is first in line to claim a forfeited spot from other countries.