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470 Worlds report, Pan Am Games celebrations, SailGP update

by David Schmidt 13 Aug 2019 08:00 PDT August 13, 2019
Yamaha 2019 470 Worlds - Enoshima, August 2019 © Junichi Hirai / Bulkhead Magazine Japan

These may be summer's dog days, but there's plenty of high-end sailing action unfurling, both at home and abroad. Locally, in harbors and bays from coast to coast, racing sailors are making the most of the long daylight hours, the warm breezes, and the summer work culture to get in as many races as possible, and on the international stage, Olympic hopefuls are working towards earning country berths and individual qualifications for next year's Games. Moreover, Grand Prix sailors competing in events such as the SailGP series, are working towards solidifying the season's final standings and securing the $1M cash purse that goes to the winner of the season's finale.

On the Olympic sailing front, two events — the 470 World Championships, which unfurled on the waters off of Enoshima, Japan, and the Pan American Games, which took place off of Paracas, Peru — have dominated the conversation, with the former proving disastrous for North American sailing interests, while the latter bore important fruit for both the Canadian and U.S.-flagged teams.

First, the sour medicine. The top North American result in both the men's and women's divisions at the 470 World Championships was an 18th place, which was posted by Stu McNay and David Hughes (USA). Other North American performances in the Men's 470 class included a 51st finish for Americans Trevor Davis and Trevor Bornarth and a 52nd finish (out of 52 boats) for Canadians Joshua Yale and Michael Montagnese.

Things weren't any rosier among the Women's 470 results, with sisters Atlantic and Nora Brugman (USA) finishing in 30th place. They were immediately followed by two fellow American teams, including that of Nikole Barnes and Lara Dallman-Weiss, who finished in 31st place, and sisters Carmen and Emma Cowles, who finished in 32nd place out of 39 boats. Americans Emily Bornarth and Laura Slovensky finished in 38th place; no Canadian women raced in this event.

As a result of these performances, American and Canadian female sailors did not earn 470 berths for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 (McNay and Hughes had already earned this for U.S.-flagged male 470 sailors at the 2018 World Championships). "I'm disappointed that we fell short of our hopes and expectations for both fleets," said Malcolm Page, US Sailing's Chief of Olympics, in an official team press release. "We will now be forced to qualify the country in the Women's fleet at the Hempel World Cup Series in Miami this January."

While these were not the results that anyone wanted for North American sailors at this World Championship regatta, the good news is that American and Canadian sailors fared much better on the waters off of Peru. All told, American sailors collected seven medals (two golds, three silvers and two bronze), while Canadian sailors racked up a perfect sweep of a single gold, silver and bronze medal to send their team home with a multi-colored trifecta.

For American sailors, this medal haul included gold in the non-Olympic mixed-sex Snipe class, which was earned by Ernesto Rodriguez and Hallie Schiffman; gold in the mixed-sex Nacra 17 class, courtesy of Riley Gibbs and Anna Weis; silver in the Women's 49erFX class (Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea), and silver in the Women's Laser Radial (Charlotte Rose). On the men's side, Pedro Pascual captured a silver in the Men's RS:X, Will Cyr took home a bronze in the Open Formula Kite, while Charlie Buckingham collected bronze in the Men's Laser.

For Canadian sailors, Women's Laser Radial sailor Sarah Douglas was on fire, capturing gold a full two points ahead of second-placed Charlotte Rose (USA). In the non-Olympic Sunfish class, former Olympic sailor Luke Ramsay took home silver, while Alexander Heinzemann and Justin Barnes took home a bronze medal in the Men's 49er class.

But for these talented sailors whose internal compass needles constantly points towards the 2020 Games, the window for celebration was understandably limited.

"I thought it was kind of funny," said Nacra 17 sailor Riley Gibbs in an official team press release. "Straight after the medal ceremony, we went back to de-rigging the boat, like nothing really happened. It's another stepping stone, we're already looking ahead to trying our best at the Olympic Test Event in Japan and putting it all out there."

Jumping from Olympic-track sailing to the wingsail-powered SailGP circuit, Tom Slingsby (AUS) and his Australia SailGP Team captured first place in all three races that were held on the waters off of Cowes, UK (August 10-11). The Aussies were joined on the winner's podium by skipper Nathan Outteridge and his Japan SailGP Team, who took second place, and by skipper Phil Robertson and his China SailGP Team.

Impressively, Slingsby and company tagged 50.0 knots of boatspeed in the regatta's first race to become the first sailing team to have hit this mind-numbing speed on an active racecourse. (This includes the 35th America's Cup, which used slower versions of the same boats.)

American interests were represented by skipper Rome Kirby and his United States SailGP Team, who sustained a capsize some 30 seconds after the regatta's first starting gun sounded, but they rebounded to compete in the rest of the racing following a pitstop with the SailGP tech crew.

Unfortunately for British-flagged interests, the team dug their bow into the brine during the first race's second-to-last leg, sending wing trimmer Chris Draper over flight controller and tactician Stuart Bithell. No-one was hurt, fortunately, however the team's steed was sent to the shed for repairs that cost the team the day's racing.

SailGP action will resume at the season finale event, which will take place on the waters off of Marseille, France, from September 20-22, and will determine final season standings and a $1M prize purse.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

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