'Spinnaker fleet - 2013 Nacra 17 World Championship'
© Laurens Morel
The fight for medals at the Nacra 17 World Championship in The Hague is in full swing for tomorrow's concluding Medal Race. The Gold Fleet managed to complete two races on Friday July 26, which was necessary to start the Medal Race scheduled on Saturday July 27. Billy Besson and Marie Riou from France are still leading, but the British Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond closed the gap to three points. They both guaranteed a medal already. The Swiss team of Matias Buhler and Nathalie Brugger took over the bronze position, after Bissaro and Sicouri lost their protest.
Billy Besson and Marie Riou scored another bullet this morning, after a fierce fight with the Italians Vittorio Bissaro and Sylvia Sicouri. Sicouri: 'We had a very good start and we had decided to go to the right side of the course. It was the best choice, because the wind turned to the right. When we saw that the fleet was behind, we went back to the left to cover it. We arrived first at the top mark with a 100 meters lead. The French were second and they are really quick both upwind and downwind. We tried to stay first, but they have low points, so it is fine to finish second. We are happy about it.'
'Our goal was to finish top ten. We didn't expect to do so well here. There are a lot of really good teams and it has been a long time since we raced against France and the Netherlands. They were not in Kiel and we weren't in Medemblik, so we didn't know what to expect from the speed. Obviously, these are not the usual Dutch conditions and generally we are a bit more confident with more wind, so we are pleased with our performance in the light breeze.' Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond finished third.
After a break to let a thunderstorm passing by, the Gold fleet returned to the water for the last (third in the final series) race of the day in a light breeze. The Italian teams Vincenzo Sorriento/Barbara Rinauro and Francesco Porro/Caterina Marianna Banti got off the line really well and played the cat-and-mouse game. Barbara Rinauro: 'It was very exciting, being first, second, first, second. It was so close until the second part of the race.'
Vincenzo Sorrientino: 'The right side of the course was the better option on the first upwind. That was different in the second beat. Mathias Buhler and Nathalie Brugger were maybe 10th on the downwind, went to the left and were second at the second top mark. We stayed on the right, so the gap was closed.' He laughs: 'Today is an Italian day. We won this race and ITA 37 finished second this morning.' Buhler and Brugger from Switzerland finished second, followed by the French Ogereau and Vandame.
Their second place in the last race helped the Swiss Mathias Buhler and Nathalie Brugger entering the top five with fair chances to win a medal. They are fourth overall, only two points behind the Italians. Brugger: 'The sailing conditions were difficult with a patchy wind. That was hard on the mind. Upwind was super tricky. This morning we were not so lucky and lost some boats on the last downwind. We finished thirteenth.'
'This afternoon I was already confident with the left side of the course, but it did not pay in the first beat. Then I saw a little bit of pressure on the left again and we had to try something, so went left again.' That turned out to be the golden choice, which brought them back in the front. 'Our goal was top ten, so we are very happy so far and we will see what we can do with the Medal Race.'
Bissaro and Sicouri finished fifteenth in the last race, which was enough to hold on to their bronze position. However, Lucy Macgregor and Tom Phipps protested them. Sicouri explains: 'The British protested us, because we started on port in the last race and she said she had to bear away to avoid contact. We did not hear the protest word, so we didn't know she was going to protest us. We found that out when we came here to sign in. We had a witness close to us, who did not hear the word either, but in case of a port/starboard situation you really have to prove that you gave enough water to pass. Our hope was that the protest would be invalid, because they did not say that word. Once it was valid, it was hard for us.' They lost and dropped to the eight place on the leader board.
'Despite the disqualification, I am happy that we are still in the top ten of the world. I even concentrate more on tomorrow and want to kick some arse. I am good and I am going to show that on the water and not in the protest room.'
The French duo Ogereau and Vandame lost their protests against ARG 142 and NZL 102 and dropped from the sixth to the sixteenth place.
Besson and Riou finished twelfth in today's final race, so they lost some points to the British Saxton and Diamond, who crossed the line in sixth position. With a three point difference between gold and silver, these first Nacra 17 Worlds are far from decided. The Swiss are no thread for the top two positions anymore, so they both guarantee a medal and will most likely matchrace each other. The battle for bronze is even bigger with number three till ten chasing the last medal.
Tomorrow's Medal Race is scheduled at 14:30 hours. The Silver fleet will sail their final fleet race at 11 hours and the numbers 11 to 25 of the Gold fleet at 12:30 hours.
Top ten Medal Race:
1. FRA 43 - Besson/Riou, 20 points
2. GBR 60 - Saxton/Diamond, 23 points
3. SUI 41 - Buhler/Brugger, 43 points
4. NED 44 - Groeneveld/Begemann, 44 points
5. FRA 65 - Vaireaux/Audinet, 48 points
6. AUS 36 - Waterhouse/Darmanin, 50 points
7. NED 46 - Delnooz/De Koning, 51 points
8. ITA 37 - Bissaro/Sicouri, 52 points
9. NZL 102 - Jones/Saunders, 56 points
10. AUT 35 - Zajac/Frank
The silver fleet caught up on the schedule, by completing three races. All bullets went to Frederika Salva and Francesco Bianchi from Italy. They are going into tomorrow's last race with a sixteen points lead over the Danish duo Allan Christensen and Nahid Gaebler.
Top five silver fleet after eight races, including one discard:
1. ITA 55 - Salva/Bianchi, 56 points
2. DEN 17 - Christensen/Gaebler, 72 points
3. ESP 20 - Llaargues Masachs/Escude Lavit, 75 points
4. USA 172 - Daniel/Straeter, 89 points
5. AUS 57 - McKnight/Curtis, 103 points
Nacra 17 Worlds
by Diana Bogaards
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9:06 PM Fri 26 Jul 2013GMT
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