There were flawless performances from the French teams on this critical fourth day at the 2014 470 Junior World Championships. Two more races wrapped and two more to go before the top 10 Medal Race on 3 July.
Back to back race wins for the French men's and women's teams of Guillaume Pirouelle/Valentin Sipan and Maëlenn Lemaitre/Aloïse Retornaz.
Drama across the race track as the Sirocco breeze switched on and brought with it 24 knots of breeze, up to three metre seas and some thrilling seat of the pants racing. Racing got underway shortly after 1400 hours with the men up on the race track first. Racing today was all about staying focused and using every ounce of physical strength to optimise speed and don’t capsize. There were very few wind shifts so simply the fastest around the track won. But there were plenty of capsizes and a few did not finish penalty scores.
The verdict on the tough but totally thrilling conditions was perfectly summed up by Denmark’s Balder Tobiasen who said, 'This is some of the most extreme weather you are going to get when racing a 470.'
The high wind drama extended to the race committee who lost their anchor when the chain snapped, forcing race 9 for the women to be postponed while they got a replacement, repositioned and reset the start line
Spain’s Jordi Xammar/Joan Herp again demonstrated why they are the reigning World Champions as they mastered the track in the full on conditions, taking second place in both races. But they couldn’t quite get the upper hand over Guillaume Pirouelle/Valentin Sipan (FRA) who knocked out perfectly executed back to back race wins and closed the gap on the Spanish.
Guillaume Pirouelle and Valentin Sipan (FRA-76) and Fabrice Rigot and Guillaume Rigot (SUI-2) - 2014 470 Junior World Championships, Day 4 - Zerogradinord.it Click Here to view large photo
Pirouelle/Sipan were looking pretty relaxed in the boat park this morning and clearly confident on the day ahead as their strong wind skills came into action. 'We worked a lot this winter in strong winds, so we have very good speed and it was actually quite easy for us today. We took two good starts and it was just speed and control of the boat,' said Sipan. An awesome performance indeed as they crossed the finish line with a winning margin of more than the last leg over the chasing Spanish.
'It was really, really exciting,' grinned Pirouelle. 'The Spanish and Danish were close behind. The Danish guys were fast and we took the second start near them and they were very fast. It was equal between us in speed.'
Two more races on Wednesday complete the opening series, so a critical day tomorrow as the French have successfully consolidated their second place on the leader board, yet also managed to stay in touch with the Spanish as Thursday’s double-points medal race draws nearer.
'For the moment, we just want to have more points between us and third, so tomorrow we just have to take two good starts and not be BFD or OCS and to a top five maybe. With the BFD we already have we must not make any mistakes,' concluded Pirouelle.
The Spanish have the upper hand on the discard race, as their worst score so far is a ninth, so if needed they can still carry a high scoring finish yet control the leader board.
Winkel/Cipra have been in the top 10 since day one of racing, but today was their biggest physical challenge. 'One of the biggest problems in these conditions is being focused on the waves and you have to have the power in your body all the time. It was two long races which were tough in these conditions,' said Winkel.
'There were some big waves and at the end of the race they were three metres. For the upwind it was quite difficult as sometimes a monster wave comes. But it was really cool and really fast downwind.'
Cipra added, 'We don’t often get to race in conditions like today, but we both live in Kiel and train there. A few weeks ago we had also some really tough conditions there and we wanted to go sailing so we went out for nearly an hour just reaching backwards and forwards and then we went in, because our sails were destroyed. I think today it was really tough sailing and these conditions are not like the other days, when you had to sail clever and take the right shifts. Today it was all about be fast and be safe and don’t capsize.'
But the pair did take a dip in the waves in race 9 and left some points on the race track as Cipra explained, 'In the downwind it was really tricky with such huge waves and everyone wanted to catch the waves. We had some trouble in the boat and then there was one little gust and Matti went into the water and we capsized. '
They were soon racing again, but the fast downwind speed of the fleet meant they lost over ten places. Back upwind they soon recovered to finish eighth and end the day in third overall.
Denmark’s Balder Tobiasen/Magnus Jung Johansen (DEN) made significant leader board gains, up from eighth to fourth overall, staying in control of the tough conditions to score two third places and sit just two points off third placed Winkel/ Cipra.
Tobiasen commented, 'Out there near the gate, I think the waves were about 4-5 metres and we just had to be as far back in the boat as we could, otherwise we were just going to nosedive. For Magnus on the trapeze, it was really, really scary sometimes.'
The team approached the race with a mix of sailing on the edge to make gains and caution to sail safe, as Tobiasen explained, 'We were sailing like sometimes we just have to go as fast as possible to get the other guys and then when we got away from the fleet, we just said to play it safe and don’t risk it. We just had to stay above the water. But we are feeling really, really good now.'
The same teams that started the day in the leaderboard top 10 remain in the top 10, with just a shuffle in order behind the top two. 470 Men/Mixed – Top 10 Overall
1. Jordi Xammar/Joan Herp (ESP 44) - 16 pts
2. Guillaume Pirouelle/Valentin Sipan (FRA 76) - 35 pts
3. Malte Winkel/Matti Cipra (GER 13) - 56 pts
4. Balder Tobiasen/Magnus Jung Johansen (DEN-164) – 58 pts
5. Matteo Pilati/Francesco Rubagotti (ITA 27) - 64 pts
6. David Charles/Alex Charles (ESP 1) – 65 pts
7. Fabrice Rigot/Guillaume Rigot (SUI 2) - 72 pts
8. Giacomo Ferrari/Giulio Calabro (ITA-757) – 74 pts
9. Simon Diesch/Patrick Aggeler (GER 11) – 86 pts
10. Antonis Tsimpoukelis/Vasileios Kontakis (GRE 4) - 90 pts
The physical strength and sheer gut busting determination required from the women today was just too adverse for some of the younger and lighter teams who retired from racing. Cervia is considered a light wind venue and ahead of the Championships rumours were plenty of the light conditions, but so far Cervia has spectacularly delivered good breezes, albeit a bit unpredictable.
Still two races to go until the top 10 advance to the Medal Race, but it would be reasonable to predict that the big battle is set to unfold for the bronze medal, as the French and British teams continue to extend over the fleet and stamp their mark on the top two places. They are beatable, but on current form are looking fairly safe at the front.
Matching their team mates in the men/mixed fleet, Maelenn Lemaitre/Aloise Retornaz (FRA) took back to back race wins. Behind them Jess Lavery/Megan Brickwood (GBR) sailed a solid 9,3.
Germany’s sister team of Greta Markfort/Anna Markfort had their best racing day of the series, built on their experience of heavy wind training in their home city, Kiel. The pair move up from eighth to third, four points ahead of Tsuf Zamet/Saar Tamir (ISR).
Greta said, 'Today was way more than we expected. We like lots of wind and in Kiel it is always windy. It is good as we normally train with the guys and they are really fast so it helps. We are also fast upwind. In the first race we were leading and then we gybed too fast, as it was hard to see the gate in the wind and waves, and we did a semi-capsize.'
Staying in control on the trapeze is just one of the tasks to juggle in strong winds. 'The heart rate gets quite high,' said Anna, 'but we try to keep as calm as possible and we know we are good in strong winds. I tried to tell Greta when the waves were coming so it was next wave and 3,2,1. We just tried to focus on the waves and the wind and nothing else. In these conditions it is even more important to focus on what is your job. And to tell Greta what to do, as she can’t really see anything,' concluded Anna referring to the waves and constant spray over the boat.
The Markfort sisters will be the target to beat tomorrow for the teams behind. 470 Women - Top 10 Overall
1. Maelenn Lemaitre/Aloise Retornaz (FRA 39) – 14 pts
2. Jess Lavery/Megan Brickwood (GBR 838) - 35 pts
3. Greta Markfort/Anna Markfort (GER-26) – 51 pts
4. Tsuf Zamet/Saar Tamir (ISR-77) – 55 pts
5. Noya Bar-Am/Rimon Shoshan (ISR-11) – 57 pts
6. Fabienne Oster/Alexandra Lauber (GER 95) - 63 pts
7. Maria Bozi/Anna Passa (GRE-13) – 64 pts
8. Benedetta di Salle/Alessandra Dubbini (ITA-74) – 72 pts
9. Yahel Wallach/Stav Brokman (ISR 12) - 73 pts
10. Jeanine Speelman/Marchien Speelman (NED) – 75 pts
The plan for race day five on Wednesday 2 July 2014 is for the 470 Women to race first with a warning signal scheduled for 1400 hours, followed by the 470 Men. Both fleets will contest two races. Event website