On day one of the 2014 Seiko 49er and 49erFX Junior World Championship, a rainy calm greeted the sailors this morning as they arrived. Coaches and Race Officers were apprehensive as to whether there would be racing, but Denmark delivered and a full complement was races was held on schedule.
The conditions were offshore, 6-12 knots and building, with flat water and the wind was very shifty. There was no pattern to the breeze, so teams had to find clear water and then work with the wind they got. First to find consistent form were New Zealand’s Jack Simpson and Logan Dunning Beck. They were surprised to be out in front, as this is their first trip to Europe for 49er racing. We caught up with them as they landed on shore.
Just coming out of the New Zealand summer, these two have been able to train every day and join their world leading countrymen, which is surely rubbing off. It must be a scary sight for the skiff world in that New Zealand already placed first and second at the 2013 worlds, with each team still well under 25, and now has another team arrive on the scene to a top placing.
Also sailing well are Spains Diego Botin and Pablo Turrado, who were eighth in the first race before rattling off two bullets to finish the day. The shifty conditions didn’t seem to bother them too much. The 49er fleet was here in Aarhus for the European Championship last year and can attest to the difficulty of sailing here when the wind comes from the city. It was a very different challenge to what the fleet faced in Keil last week, with the huge waves, so many of the teams were happy to only have shifty winds to deal with.
The 44 boat 49er fleet is split evenly in two for the first to days of qualifying, and then will shift to Gold and Silver fleet after day two.
The 49erFX fleet had to wait on shore for the first couple of hours, but got the better of the breeze as it built through the day. Local favorites Ida Nielsen and Marie Olsen have started this event the way the last event here ended, out in front! It almost was not to be. Marie awoke early this morning with pain in her shoulder. It didn’t frighten her away from an appointment with the local radio station, but was enough to send her to visit the doctors mid-morning. An examination found nothing, so she took some pain medication and hit to the water! An improving scoreline of 5, 3, 1 gives them a one point lead, and a full day’s work!
Off to a fantastic start are Lars van Stekelenborg and Foris van de Werken of the Netherlands. Floris has been sailing the 49erFX for a year, mostly crewing for Nina Curtis, and Lars just started to sail the 49erFX after mostly sailing 470?s. They won the first two races and had a top 10 to land in second overnight. There are six all male or mixed teams racing the Junior World Championships, a number the class is hoping to build on in coming years. The transition from youth classes to the 49er has always been difficult, and with a bridge through the 49erFX fleet many men will start to find their skiff legs in the 49erFX now.
Rounding out the top three are Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz also of the Netherlands. They had their worst race to start the day and finished off with two second places. With Annette turning 21 tomorrow, they will be hoping the sacrifice of a 21st birthday traditional home cooked meal for all her friends back home will be paid back with good results again on day two.
The plan for day two will be the same as it was on day one, with 49er up first and 49erFX joining part way through the day. At the end of day two, the 49er fleet will split in to gold and silver fleets, with the top 25 making gold. Event website