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Hempel World Cup Series Miami - Final Roundup from 49er and Nacra fleets

by 9er Inc 2 Feb 12:32 PST 27 January - 3 February 2019
Nacra 17 fleet medal race at the 2019 Hempel World Cup Series Miami © Jesus Renedo / Sailing Energy / World Sailing

49erFX

The stage was set for an action packed first race of the day. Alex Maloney with Molly Meech (NZL) had a commanding but catchable lead ahead of two chasers, Martine Grael with Kahena Kunze (BRA) and Charlotte Dobson with Saskia Tidey (GBR).

A sunny Miami day at minimum wind strength meant it was guaranteed to be challenging conditions. From race start, the Kiwis were under pressure, getting rolled at the start and having to tack out. Meanwhile, both Dobson/Tidey and Grael/Kunze had good starts, especially Grael/Kunze who won the boat on a last moment double tack.

The Kiwis recovered nicely through with a slight gain on the bottom right of the course, a trend that would play out for the rest of the race.

The next team to take advantage of the right was Dobson/Tidey, who moved into the lead 2/3rd the way up the first beat, but it was the Brazilians who went right last, and they caught up to the top bunch, rounding a close fourth behind Sweden, Denmark, and Britain

Most of the fleet straight set except for Grael/Kunze who gybeset, heading back to the side that kept paying on the beat. They passed two boats on the downwind, to only trail the Swedes by the leeward marks.

Interestingly, the leading two boats rounded the go left mark, while Denmark's Schutt and Christiansen rounded the go right gate. A third of the way up the beat it was the Danes who were up into second, while most of the fleet, and critically the Kiwis, were going left.

Grael/Kunze then made the critical move, tacking back to the right and getting the farthest right of the leaders. By the top of the second beat they were back into second place, with the Kiwis falling all the way to ninth place.

By the final downwind, everyone had figured out the power of the right side, and they all gybeset shutting down passing options. Brazil carried through to the finish in second, while the Kiwis closed tightly to the group in sixth through eighth, but couldn't pass and ended up loosing their regatta lead.

Once again, Grael/Kunze used their smarts and skills to create the conditions for an unlikely but simultaneously inevitable win. The damage from Maloney/Meechs disastrous medal race was limited to loosing just the one place overall, as they held on to the silver medal. While Dobson/Tideys fourth place finish wasn't enough to make any passes, it kept them in the Bronze medal position.

Full 49erFX Results

49er

The 49er Medal race followed next, and a filling of the breeze would prove critical. As the starting sequence was going, the wind picked up to 7 or 8 knots, and 10 degrees farther left of the first race. That put the pin end in a heavily favored position. By the time the starting gun sounded, five boats were over early half the fleet, and critically only one went back to restart properly.

Leaders, Heil and Plossel had a safe, mid-line start. Their closest challengers, Britain's Fletcher and Bithell were the team who restarted, but were last up the first beat as a result, meaning the gold medal was all but decided. Also, with 4 of the 10 boats being disqualified for their early start, including the third-place team overall, Peters and Sterritt, the Silver was locked up too for Fletcher and Bithlell.

All that remained was a fight for the Bronze. Germany's surprise Bronze medalists from the 2018 World Championship, Graf and Fischer, did a safe, Port Tack Option start, and with a simple plan of heading to the right corner, got the lay line correct and were first to the windward mark. They held on for the remaining laps for the win, but it was not to be enough to secure them a medal.

The team taking the bronze was the Fantela Brothers from Croatia. They also kept themselves safe during the start, winning the boat end and sailed well through the race moving themselves up to second place by the finish, ultimately taking the Bronze by nine points.

The win for Germany's 2016 Bronze medalists Eric Heil and Thomas Ploessel headlines a four boat German squad in the medal race. It was a very competitive fleet in Miami, with 42 boats including virtually all of the contenders saving Burling and Tuke. For Germany to get four into the final is quite an accomplishment. Only one will make it to Tokyo, but they'll be battle hardened and be sure to have a strong tuning partner in the final few weeks to the games, which can be a critical advantage.

Miami 2019 was a very high scoring regatta for the 49er fleet. The leading Germans had a 9 point lead going into the final, with a scoring average greater than 7 points per race. Often a leader in most fleets will average a 3rd or a 4th, but the numbers prove out that in these light conditions and so many capable competitors, the 49er battle was quite a challenge.

Congrats to the World Sailing race officials and media team for getting the over early boats pulled out of the medal race which made the rest of the race watchable. Too often in years passed OCS boat were allowed to keep racing, which made the TV product difficult to watch at times.

Full 49er Results

Nacra 17

The Nacra 17 medal race started with full intensity. An off-camera match race between the Waterhouse/Darmanin (AUS) and Albrecht/Nicolino (BRA) saw the leading Aussies start in a commanding position. They hit the start line at full speed with the Brazilians directly behind them.

The Brazilians, who have been the fastest boat all week in light air, tacked right away to clear their air, but the Australians clearly had a game plan to match them tightly, and covered. In two more tacks up the beat, Waterhouse/Darmanin matched the Brazilians very closely, and extended their lead.

Both teams chose the best side of the course as well, and ended up leading the race by a fair margin over the bulk of the fleet who went left off the start line.

Waterhouse/Darmanin were first to get foiling downwind and extended their lead to a quarter leg.

The focus of the race then shifted to the battle for the bronze medal. 2016 Gold medalists Lange/Carranza were aiming to fend off three chasing teams. Immediately behind them were the other Australians, Darmanin/Copeland, as well as Britains Gimson/Burnett and Austrias Zajac/Matz. On the second beat, the Argentinians went quite far right while the Australians when quite far left as the wind got a bit patchier. The Argentinian champs came through on the right side, sailing in fourth place in the race easily holding onto the Bronze for another medal performance and their stories careers.

Full Nacra 17 Results

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