by Nicky Moore
Skandia Sail for Gold regatta 2011 is nearing Olympic sized proportions, that is according to triple gold medallist Ben Ainslie. The reason is that many national teams are using the event as a crucial component of their selection process.
Silja Lehtinen, Silja Kanerva and Mikaela Wulff from Finland racing against Rita Goncalves, Mariana Lobatoi and Diana Neves from Portugal in the Womens Match Racing class on day 1 of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, in Weymouth and Portland, the 2012 Olympic venue. The regatta runs from 6-11 June 2011, bringing together the world’s top Olympic and Paralympic class sailors.
As such, the anticipation was quite high this morning as the sailors arrived at the Olympic centre, however, the wind had other ideas; and proceeded in toying with the race officials as they tried to set a fair race course in the light and shifty conditions. Match Racing began as scheduled but, others were not so lucky with the Laser Radial’s waiting ashore until 17:00 before being sent afloat.
Ru Wang, Xiao Ni Li and Ting Ting Pan from China race against Renee Groeneveld and crew in the Womens Match Racing class on day 1 of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, in Weymouth and Portland, the 2012 Olympic venue.
But while the Women’s Match Racing might have got started on time, it was still going when almost everything else was done. The usual names found their way to the top of the round robin, with stand-out unbeaten performances from Claire Leroy, Elodie Bertrand and Marie Riou (FRA); Anne-claire Le Berre, Alice Ponsar and Myrtille Ponge (FRA); and Silja Lehtinen, Silja Kanerva and Mikaela Wulff (FIN) all on 3-0, and Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor (GBR); and Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vendemoer and Debbie Capozzi (USA) on the slightly more impressive 4-0.
The RS:X fleet got going at a reasonable hour, and managed a couple of races for both the men and the women. Blanca Manchon from Spain showed the class that made her the 2010 World Champion with two bullets to lead overall from France’s Charline Picon, hot on her heels with a first and second.
In the RS:X Men it was Poland’s Piotr Myszka that matched Manchon’s results with two wins, but with a slightly bigger advantage, this time to his countryman Lukasz Grodzicki, who is in second overnight with a first and third. Britain’s Nick Dempsey won the second race to pull himself into third overall.
Aron Gadorfalvi from Hungary racing in the RSX Men class on day 1 of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, in Weymouth and Portland, the 2012 Olympic venue.
All three Paralympic classes were sailing early in the harbour – the wind was a lot stronger near the shore in the morning - and completed two races in all the fleets. In the Sonar it was Australia’s Colin Harrison and Russell Boaden tied with the US’s Rick Doerr and Brad Kendell, both teams with a first and a second. In the SKUDs it was Beijing silver medallists Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch leading from their Aussie compatriots Jamie Dunross and Rachael Cox – the former benefitting from a three point margin. In the 2.4mR’s it is Damien Seguin of France leading from the Netherland’s Thierry Schmitter and his countryman, Andre Rademaker.
The 49ers were also the beneficiaries of a race course close to Weymouth beach, and got a couple of races in for both flights. There was another outstanding performance in this fleet, this time from Italy’s Sibello brothers posting two seconds and a first to lead overall from the Austrian pair of Nico Luca Marc Delle Karth and Nikolaus Leopold Resch.
The 470s started mid-afternoon with some of the fleet’s most recognisable names struggling in the conditions. It was the Croatian pair of Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic that topped the day with a second and a third, closely followed by Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos of France. Portugal’s Alvaro Marinho has been combining his match racing on the World Tour with the 470, and posted a third and a fourth with crew Miguel Nunes and hold third overnight.
Aussie World Champions Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page were back in 15th. The 470 Women saw stronger performances from the superstars with 2010 Dutch World Champions Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout leading overall from Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos of Spain.
The Star and Finn classes were not released until 15:00 hrs and had the longest sail out to their course. They finally got underway at 17:30 after the wind had settled, and managed a single race. No one was particularly surprised to see Britain’s triple gold medallist Ben Ainslie lead for the first lap, but then New Zealand’s Dan Slater slipped through on the final round when Ainslie sailed to the wrong gate, and took the win.
In the Stars it was all about Brazil’s Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada, winners of their one race from Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki, with Canada’s Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn in third.
The huge Laser fleet was out late, a combination of split flights - and the multiple starts required to get some of them away cleanly - making for a long day. In the end it was Germany’s Franziska Goltz that took the gun in the single Radial race, beating China’s Lijia Xu and Sari Multala. In the Men’s fleet, Netherland’s Rutger van Schaardenburg won their single race from Britain’s Nick Thompson and New Zealand’s Andy Maloney.
Renee Groeneveld and crew in the Womens Match Racing class on day 1 of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, in Weymouth and Portland, the 2012 Olympic venue.
Quotes of the Day
Dan Slater (NZL) - Finn
The race went well today and that was all down to getting a good start. I started at the pin end which was significantly biased, and allowed the first three place getters in the race to effectively ‘port tack’ the fleet. Then I managed pull alongside the leader (Ben Ainslie) on the downwind which forced us to different gates. The gate I rounded appeared to be favoured which gave me margin for the last upwind, and I retained that to the finish.
Ben Ainslie (GBR) - Finn
There were a few issues on the start and I made quite a bit of an error going into the wrong gate which gave Dan (Dan Slater, Race One winner) a big break. I did manage to catch up quite a bit but Dan ended up winning by about four boat lengths so it was a bit frustrating doing that after making a solid result. In the end the conditions were ok and it was good to finally get out racing after a morning of postponements. I’m pleased to get a decent result in the first race and I look forward to the breeze filling for the rest of the week
Rick Doerr (USA) – Skud
I have competed in Skandia Sail for Gold for the last three years now and have had some pretty mixed results in Weymouth. We have only been here for three days which is a late start for us, but we have had some great practice with our head coach who had a really thorough plan and it seems like she was right on it.
Rick Doerr, Brad Kendell and Hugh Freund from USA racing in the Sonar class on day 1 of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, in Weymouth and Portland, the 2012 Olympic venue.
I think we are feeling good about everything today, our rig set up, the way we are sailing, and our boat handling was fantastic. We are a pretty new team and have only been sailing together for a year and a half and we are competing against teams who have been together for ten years so we are feeling great that everything came together for us on the water today. It can take a while to get the crew mechanics down and we have worked really hard training against the rest of the US Sailing team which has really improved our boat communication.
Robert Schedit (BRA) – Star
There was a lot of current on the start line so we were very careful not to be over the line. We didn’t get a great start but that actually put us in a position where we could play the fleet a little. First we were playing in the middle but we managed to round the first mark in the lead followed by the Polish team.
That was key to winning the race – it meant we had clean wind when we were sailing downwind so we could extend our lead quite significantly. By the time we were on the third beat we had extended enough that we made it difficult for the rest of the fleet to make up that water.
Iain Percy (GBR) – Star
We just never got into it today and we made a schoolboy error when we overstood the windward mark by half a mile and ended up reaching in against the tide. It was a very short course and we’re not used to that, but we were aware of it so we should have thought, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. When you make an error on a short course it becomes hard because then you are playing catch up which is really hard. We never gave up trying and I think over a series that pays off. They breaks just didn’t fall our way today.
Paul Brotherton (GBR) – 49er
The conditions weren’t ideal today but that’s sailing and we rolled with it. We didn’t get many breaks in the first race but the second was better and that is going to be reflected in the results. But the important thing is that we went out there and enjoyed ourselves and didn’t burn each other out in the first day.
What happens on the first day rarely reflects on what happens at the end of the week but we enjoyed ourselves out there. We are going to get a good range of conditions this week and the best people are going to end up winning, there is no doubt about that. The ups and the downs will even themselves out over the week and our job is to make the best of every single opportunity that presents itself.
I love coming to the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta and it is great to be a part of this team and it is an honour to be wearing the GBR jersey and a privilege to be a part of it all. I missed last year through injury after tearing my medial meniscus cartilage last year in July so it is great to be back - I am certainly the oldest in our fleet by some margin so you just have to enjoy it and go out there with a smile on your face because you never know when it will be your last.
Rutger Van Schaardenburg (NED) - Laser
The conditions are really challenging, in this weather everyone can sail fast and everyone knows what side of the course to choose and what position they need to be in on the start line, so it is all about having a good start. I have put a lot of effort into practicing my starts and it paid off today so I am happy with that.
We were on a different course that we haven’t sailed on before and there seemed to be less waves and less tricky winds so it is different game, but the race we did was really good– we had good conditions and nice wind. It was a shame we only got one race in today as the wind has really picked up tonight but we should have some good conditions tomorrow so I am looking forward to that.
Course Tracking: Please note on Tuesday 7th June, tracking will be on the Laser and Laser Radial classes. You can follow the tracking on the event website.
Jamie Dunross and Rachael Cox from Australia racing in the Skud class on day 1 of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, in Weymouth and Portland, the 2012 Olympic venue.
Provisional Results Monday 6th June
49er Sailed: Three
First ITA 3 SIBELLO Pietro / SIBELLO Gianfranco 5pts
Second AUT 84 DELLE KARTH / RESCH9pts
Third FRA 1162 D’ORTOLI Julien / DELPECH Noe 13pts
470 WOMEN Sailed: Two
First NED 11 WESTERHOF Lisa / BERKHOUT Lobke 6pts
Second ESP 696 PACHECO Tara / BETANZOS Berta 7pts
Third USA 1757 MAXWELL Erin / FARRAR Isabelle 17pts
470 MEN Sailed: Two
First CRO 83 FANTELA Sime / MARENIC Igor 5pts
Second FRA 44 PIERRE Leboucher / VINCENT Garos 7pts
Third POR 81 MARINHO Alvaro / NUNES Miguel 7pts
FINN Sailed: One
First NZL 1 SLATER Dan 1pt
Second GBR 3 AINSLIE Ben 2pts
Third CRO 524 KLJAKOVIC GASPIC Ivan 3pts
LASER Sailed: One
First NED 192625 VAN SCHAARDENBURG Rutger1pt
Second GBR 198211 THOMPSON Nick 2pts
Third NZL 198109 MALONEY Andy 3pts
LASER RADIAL Sailed: One
First GER 198982 GOLTZ Franziska 1pt
Second CHN 177117 XU Lijia 2pts
Third FIN 199059 MULTALA Sari 3pts
STAR Sailed: One
First BRA 8255 SCHEIDT Robert / PRADA Bruno 1pt
Second POL 8417 KUSZNIEREWICZ Mateusz / ZYCKI Dominik 2pts
Third CAN 8361 CLARKE Rochard / BJORN Tyler 3pts
SKUD 18 Sailed: Two
First AUS 47 FITZGIBBON Daniel / TESCH Liesl 3pts
Second AUS 52 DUNROSS Jamie / COX Rachael 6pts
Third GBR 45 RICKMAN Alexandra / BIRRELL Niki 6pts
SONAR Sailed: Two
First AUS 788 HARRISON Colin / BOADEN Russell 3pts
Second USA 674 DOERR Rick / KENDELL Brad 3pts
Third NOR 1 WANG-HANSEN Aleksander / KRISTIANSEN Per Eugen 8pts
2.4 Sailed: Two
First FRA 13 SEGUIN Damien 5pts
Second NED 12 SCHMITTER Thierry 8pts
Third NED 11 RADEMAKER Andre 9pts
RS:X MEN Sailed: Two
First POL 82 MYSZKA Piotr Myszka 2pts
Second POL 738 GRODZICKI Lukasz 4pts
Third GBR 1 DEMPSEY Nick 5pts
RS:X WOMEN Sailed: Two
First ESP 1 MANCHON Blanca 2pts
Second FRA 4 CHARLINE Picon 3pts
Third ESP 5 ALBAU Marina 4pts