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RS Feva Worlds: Kiwis poised for a World title double - Day 4

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 25 Jul 2019 15:37 PDT 25 July 2019
Simon Cooke and Oskar Masfen (NZL) - Day 4 of the 2019 RS Feva World Championships, Follonica Bay, Italy © Elena Giolai / Fraglia Vela Riva

Two New Zealand crews led a parade of British sailors at the top of the leaderboard after the conclusion of Day 4 at the RS Feva World Championships being sailed at Follonica, on Italy's Tuscany coast.

Simon Cooke and Oskar Masfen now have a dominating lead of 14pts going into the final day of the regatta and must be odds-on favourites to win the Open World Championship title.

A second New Zealand crew skippered by the current Tanner Cup champion, Blake Hinsley crewed by Nicholas Drummond are lying in second place on the points table. As the first placed crew under 18years old, they enjoy a 12pt advantage in their quest to become the 2019 RS Feva World Champion.

Cooke and Masfen's performance on the second day of Gold Fleet racing mirrored what had gone before - a string of wins and second places. They now have three of each and are in the enviable position of being able to drop a second-place - now a discard score is in effect. Their position is strengthened further with the inclusion of a first-place carried over from the Qualification phase of the regatta.

That Qualification round score is now counted as part of a competitors points, and cannot be discarded.

Hinsley and Drummond's rise on Day 4 was due to a number of factors. With the completion of six races in the 67 boat Gold fleet - they were able to count their 7th place from the Qualification phase. On the water they had a consistent day, placing in the top ten in each of three races sailed - a feat achieved by only two other crews in the Gold fleet - Cooke/Masfen and a Dutch crew who jumped from 37th to 12th on the leaderboard, boosted by their consistency.

The world championship is being contested by a 200 boat fleet from 23 nations. They have been split into Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets of 67 boats each after two days of sailing in the Qualification phase.

The regatta is being sailed at Follonica, Tuscany. Again light conditions prevailed, and temperatures hit 37C. That climate probably did not aid decision making - evidenced by the first eight British competitors all having a double-digit or alphabet score in their tally.

Conversely, those conditions probably paid into the hands of Simon Cooke - a former world 470 champion and well used to sailing under the pressure of big fleets and a light, shift breeze.

To underline the topsy-turvey racing on the water and the later effect on the leaderboard, the third-placed crew Raulf Berry and Olly Peters (GBR) returned 14th and 27th places - normally enough to kill any medal aspirations they might have had. Instead, they stretched out to a 20pt lead over another Britsh crew. A French crew, the former occupier of that fourth spot at the end of the previous day, crashed to 11th overall.

While result forecasting is always a very fraught exercise - and one which usually makes ninnies of those who indulge - but with just two races left to sail the top three places in the Open Championship would appear to have been defined. The only caveat on that comment is the need to have a legal start and avoid picking up maximum points.

The light winds caused the start of racing to be delayed by 45 minutes, eventually getting under way in 6-7kts of breeze and a small chop. After a General Recall, the Black Flag was flown for all three races - catching the fourth and fifth-placed British crew - and placing pressure on the fourth to tenth-placed boats overall. When racing did get under way it was characterised by big shifts in direction and a variance in strength over the racecourse.

In the first race of the day, Cooke/Masfen were third at the top mark, with Hinsley/Drummond in fourth place. They both improved to finish first and second respectively with Hyde/Fong finishing in 13th place.

Race 5 started in 6 knots, increasing slightly during the race, and initially, the Kiwis picked the wrong side of the first beat. Cooke/Masfen worked their way through the fleet to chasing down the Dutch crew to score their second win of the day. Hinsley/Drummond couldn't catch Dutch and finished third, with Hyde/Fong finishing 30th.

The breeze uncharacteristically didn't increase for the final race of the day Race 6. After a few delays, there was yet another general recall despite a Black flag being flown. Cooke/Masfen took up their usual position close to the top of the fleet, swapping the lead a couple of times before finishing a close second with Hinsley/Drummond finishing 10th after being caught in the traffic. Hyde/Fong had their best race in the Gold fleet finishing 4th.

That placing resulted in Wakatere Boating Club's Josh Hyde and Zach Fong, having a stellar improvement in performance jumping from 42nd overall to 15th on the Day 4 leaderboard. However, they have made further improvement difficult with several double-digit and alphabet scores in their overall tally. They proved their capability in the final race of the day finishing fourth. They were also 4th overall at the end of the Qualification phase. A final placing in the top ten would appear to be their best outcome.

New Zealand's Amelie Marseille and Daniel Brodie are 34th overall in the Silver fleet

Racing continues with the final two races to be held overnight NZT.

New Zealand will be staging the 2021 RS Feva Worlds co-incident with the America's Cup.

See the provisional results click here

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