Ties at the top of both divisions marked a full day of challenging sailing at the first day of the ISAF Nations Cup Grand Final in Sheboygan, USA.
In the open division, Mads Ebler (DEN) and Lucy Macgregor (GBR) were tied at the top of the leaderboard with five points each, but Macgregor sailed one more race than Ebler. In the women’s division, three teams were tied with five points each: 2009 Nations Cup winner Claire Leroy (FRA), Julianna Senfft (BRA) and Mandy Mulder (NED).
Moderate to strong northwest winds varied from 10 to 17 knots throughout the day, and shifts up to 30 degrees put a premium on course positioning.
One of the most exciting matches of the day was a dogfight between Ebler, #8 in the world, and Macgregor, #2 in the women’s match racing rankings.
'They were close tacking the entire time and Lucy was to leeward, tacked onto starboard a bit too close and there was contact so she got a penalty,' said Henry Menin, deputy chief umpire. Macgregor attempted to draw a penalty from Ebler going downwind but he launched a classic defense to her attempt to double jib and Macgregor got her second penalty. 'It was all pretty great stuff,' Menin said.
For Ebler, sailing the Sonar, the boat used for the open division, was a new challenge. 'This is a completely new boat for us,' he said. 'It is much heavier than boats of similar size like the J/22 or J/80. So far so good, and we have won all races today.'
In the women’s division, sailed in Elliott 6m, Senfft and Genny Tulloch (USA) sailed a match so close they exchanged leads right down to the finish line.
'I didn’t know until they crossed the line who was going to win the match,' Menin said. 'They were just powering down with some really nice wind with the lead going back and forth.'
For many of the sailors it was their first time competing in Sheboygan, home of host Sail Sheboygan.
'We haven’t done much freshwater sailing and we are impressed with the shorter chop conditions and with the Elliott 6m,' South African skipper Dominique Provoyeur said. 'The wind today has been fresh and the Elliott 6m is a very physical boat. We love the challenge and we love Sheboygan. It’s a great little town to explore.'
The Round Robin concludes tomorrow with the top three advancing to the Semi Finals. The final Semi Final spot is decided following a repechage involving those who finished 4-7 in the Round Robin.
ISAF Nations Cup website