by Ben Remocker
At the 49er and 49erFX North Americans, with a poor forecast, the prospects for racing were low, but enough wind filled in for an exciting three races in each class. Both the 49er and 49erFX fleets had clear leaders heading into the final day, with 11 and 14 point leads respectively, but first race blunders put each leader under pressure for the final two races.
2014 49er and 49erFX North Americans
In the 49er Class, Jonas Warrer and Peter Lang held an 11 point lead over John Pink and Stuart Bithell of the UK. Three and five points further back were two more French teams, so the pack was chomping at the leaders heals. The first race proved to be difficult for our leaders, as they had a poor start, got stuck below a boat, and then fouled while trying to bail out right requiring a 360 degree turn. There was no recovery available for them, with the only respite being their good drop race and the fact that of the other three teams only FRA 14, Mattieu Frei and Yann Rocherieux had a good race.
The Danes used their drop race to good effect, but now had no margin for error and three teams really close on points behind them. In light and trying conditions they did not falter and finished off with a 3, 2, only bettered slightly by John Pinks two bullets to take the victory by a handful of points.
New team mates Brad Funk and Trevor Burd were the highest place North American team, placing seventh overall in the standings, a good recovery after a poor fist day for these two sailors. They will take home the perpetual trophy for the first time, and the second in a row for a USA based team.
The 49erFX racing followed a similar path. Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze have been the dominant team so far this weekend rolling off an unprecedented six wins from seven races. Also sailing well were the French team of Sarah Steyeart and Julie Brossard, who did not have such a flamboyant scoreline but were only 14 points back.
2014 49er and 49erFX North Americans winners
The first start has a challenging on for the Brazilians, and they could not fight their way back past 17th place while the French managed a fourth place. With drops included in the scoring, there was still an 11 point gap between the two as race 8 started. They matched each other around the course, with the Brazilians ultimately passing the French on the last beat to score a fifth with the French in sixth. That left a 12 point gap.
The pressure was on for the final race, and the Brazilians sailed a good one crossing the line in the top five and securing what they thought was a victory. Ultimately, however, they were undone by their start and were called OSC, disqualifying them from the race and pushing them back into second place overall. At time of press the protest was undecided, so check out the regatta page to find out the result of the protest.
The battle for third was equally close between Ida Neilsen and Marie Olsen of Denmark and Frances Peters with Nicola Groves of Team GB. Neither sailed a great race but the Danes pulled ahead an extra few positions on the last upwind to moved seven boats ahead of the Brits, four more than the minimum of three needed for a past and putting them up into the Bronze medal position. It was not to last though, as the Peters/Groves sailed a blinder of a downwind to catch up to the Danes with only one boat in between them, retaining their Bronze medal position by a single point.
We also had three more race winners on the 49erFX course today, with Noora Ruskola (FIN), Kate MacGreggor (GBR), and Griselda Khng (SIN) all recording their first wins of the regatta. Erin Rafuse and Danielle Boyd of Canada are the top placed North American team in 16th position placing. This is Canada’s first 49erFX North American Championship after the USA won the regatta last year with Anna Tunnicliffe, who recently retired.
The fleet will stay in Miami for another week of practice before the World Cup of Sailing – Miami starts on Jan 27th and runs through Feb. 1, 2014.