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2019 Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships - Day 4

by 49er & Nacra 17 Sailing 6 Dec 2019 02:39 PST 3-8 December 2019
49er fleet at 2019 Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 Worlds day 4 © Jesus Renedo / Sailing Energy

Day 1 of the Gold Fleet finals has seen the pressure mount, and some of the favourites starting to crumble...

The fourth day of the 2019 Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships saw the race for the title and Olympic qualification is beginning to take shape as the fleets split into their respective Gold fleets.

49er: Germans and Kiwis break away

Two teams have separated themselves at the top of the 49er leaderboard. Erik Heil / Thomas Ploessel (GER) extended their lead over Peter Burling / Blair Tuke (NZL) on the first day of finals racing, winning the day with three top ten finishes and edging themselves one step closer to their first 49er World Championship. Hot on their heels the local heroes of Burling / Tuke didn't have an ideal day by their exceptional standards.

However the gold and silver Olympic medallists can take solace in the fact that third place is quite a few points behind. This gap should allow Burling / Tuke the leeway they need to take some substantial risk in their pursuit of the leaders.

49erFX: Dutch close the gap on Brazil

Reigning 49erFX World Champions Annemiek Bekkering / Annette Duetz (NED) showed exactly why they are the team to beat. Through consistent sailing and the odd stroke of luck they put together a nine point day from the three races sailed to pull themselves to within 11 points of the Rio 2016 gold medallists Martine Grael / Kahena Kunze (BRA). Tina Lutz / Susann Beucke (GER) continue to put together one of the most consistent regattas of their Olympic campaign, currently sitting in third overall with a scoreline including almost exclusively top ten results.

Nacra 17: Outteridges take a fall

In the foiling Nacra 17 Lin Cenholt / CP Lubeck came out victors of the day with three consistent results, a feat no other top team can lay claim to. While Italians Bissaro / Frascari continue to lead overall, the highlight of the day was the second race in which Billy Besson / Marie Riou (FRA) battled with Jason Waterhouse / Lisa Darmanin (AUS) on the final lap.

The French team, with four Nacra 17 world titles to their names, rounded the final windward mark with a slender lead over the Rio 2016 silver medallists. The Australians chose to gybe earlier than the French and through a combination of superior boat handling and speed managed to squeak over the finish line overlapped with Besson / Riou who had to settle for second.

The Olympic selection battle in the Nacra17 is at boiling point. For the Australian team Nathan and Haylee Outteridge had a day that could spell the end of their selection hopes, as they tumbled to 12th overall and racked up a mountainous 52 points in just three races. Meanwhile their team mates Waterhouse / Darmanin threw down a first and fourth (plus a discard) to put them into second overall and seven points off the lead.

The ongoing British saga is showing a similar story. European Champions Ben Saxton / Nicola Boniface (GBR) need to have a stellar finish to their regatta if they have any hopes of reeling in Gimson / Burnet who are tied for second with the Aussies.'

Italian dominators are struggling

The most winning team since the 2016 Olympics, Ruggero Tita / Caterina Banti (ITA) have set the standard since the Nacra 17 moved to the current foiling configuration. For the reigning World Champions, they are having to watch their countrymen Bissaro / Frascari lead the regatta from back in an uncharacteristic position of 16th. Bissaro / Frascari are regular top five finishers and will be pushing their case for the Italian selection process.

With such close competition between the teams, a medal on Sunday could double up as a ticket to Tokyo.

In-depth analysis of Nacra 17 Gold Fleet racing

Conditions were stellar for the foiling catamarans on Day 1 of the Gold Fleet finals...

Race 1 - To kick off gold fleet racing leading teams put their faith in each side of the racecourse. Zajac/Mats (AUT 3), and the two Italian teams started on port and when hard right. Waterhouse/Darmanin (AUS 2) and Pacheco/Trittel (ESP 28) went hard left, and when the two groups met at the top mark it was the Spanish in the lead, but only narrowly.

With the crews maintaining an extremely fine balance on the foils for the downwind legs, the Italians moved into second and third while the Spanish kept their lead. Bissaro/ Frascari (ITA 5) got the best of the next beat but misjudged their lay line which allowed the Spanish to pass them back at the top of the second beat.

With the conditions proving ever-challenging, the pedigree teams moved into the front of the three-lap race with notable exceptions in Saxton/Boniface in 11th and Outteridge/Outteridge in 23rd (the Aussies are carrying this result due to an earlier UFD disqualification), and then Martinez/ Maslivets (ESP 99) who were not able to finish the race, scoring a DNF. ESP 99 then further compounded their misery on the day by being over early on the start of race two, scoring letter scores in consecutive races.

But it was a great opening Gold Fleet race for the other Spanish crew, Pacheco/ Trittel who took the winner's gun ahead of the two top Italian teams, Tita/ Banti ahead of Bissaro/ Frascari.

Race 2 - Out in from early on in race two were four-time World Champions Billy Besson/ Marie Riou as a large right-hand wind shift allowed teams on the right side to dominate the race. On the second upwind all of the top boats headed out right again and then the wind shifted even farther right. With most boats now overstood, the teams sailed a more open angle and all started foiling upwind - moving from 10-11 knots of boatspeed up to 14-15 knots of boatspeed.

To accomplish the mode change teams shift their weight back, give a bit more angle of attack on the daggerboard, slightly ease the jib and traveller, and then sail the boat flat. When done right the mode is steady, fast, and without much leeward slippage. Done wrong it's unstable and results in a lot of leeward slip, so it's a high-risk mode. The top teams all managed to do it well and drove to the windward mark at top speed.

As the boats headed downwind, the French team straight set and the chasing Australians Waterhouse/Darmanin gybe set. As the two teams came back together in the middle after their gybes - they were neck and neck. After a back and forth battle with each team looking to foil more steadily than the other - it was the.... well, why should we spoil it for you? Watch the French v Aussie showdown here...

Race 3 - The final race of the day started with a bang, as GER 77 Kohlhoff/Stuhlemmer port-tacked the fleet to head hard out to the right. It was a 'mic drop' moment. The only complaints from the spectator gallery was that they weren't foiling upwind when they did it, but an epic move all the same.

Besson/Riou (FRA 99) moved again into the front of the fleet for a second race in a row. With a perfect lay line call at the leeward gate the French team pulled into a solid lead but were heading left when the second placed team of Wilkinson/Dawson (NZL 96) headed to the favoured right.

The French flipped over but it was too late and the Kiwis made a pass to claim the lead half way up the beat. The Kiwis were underlayed, however and at the top of the beat had to pull off two quick tacks with only a 30-metre lead on the chasing French. Wilkinson and Dawson pulled off two beautiful tack but their lead narrowed to 15 metres as the two teams headed downwind and gybe-set.

The young Kiwi team had a better mode downwind than the French, sailing slightly lower on the foils but with fewer stuffs, to advance into a 100-metre lead. Besson / Riou followed through and were put under pressure at the finish line by their French compatriots, Delapierre/ Audinet (FRA 56), by only a few metres.

In-depth analysis of the 49er Gold Fleet racing

Some deeper analysis of the tight racing in the 49er and 49erFX Gold Fleet competition on Day 4, the first day of the Finals...

49er Gold

Race 1: In the light sea breeze the first race saw a clean start and the fleet split left and right. The right side of the course played marginally better and Rual/Amoros (FRA 8) along with Botin/Marra(ESP 97) took a decent lead around the top mark. It was typical light wind sailing all the way down with teams picking their way through the best of the breeze and then splitting at the bottom gate. Probably the most notable part of initial legs of the race was Burling/Tuke (NZL 77) deep in the pack for the first time so far in this regatta.

On the second upwind the breeze built and came in from the right side so teams like the French and Spanish - who stuck to that side - extended their lead. Fletcher/Bithell (GBR 6) could have been caught out as they took the go-left gate but they smartly consolidated with the leaders and ended up being the farthest boat right when the shift came in. At the top windward mark the Spanish went into an immediate gybe-set. But the Brits went into an EVEN MORE immediate gybe-set, looking to pounce on Botin and Marra and try to roll them as they accelerated away under gennaker...

Ultimately the French extended to win and the Spanish held off the British challenge for the one, two, three. Heil/Ploessel (GER 4), the regatta leaders grabbed a 4th place while Burling and Tuke, as they are known to do, limited their losses by moving back through the fleet to finish in 11th.

Race 2: The wind had built a couple of knots by the start of the second race and teams were fully trapezing for the second race; the type of conditions where every Gold Fleet team can go fast, making for a very close-fought beat.

As the leaders gathered at the top mark it was Heil/Ploessel (GER 4) who narrowly beat out Schneiter/Cujean (SUI 10), each from opposite ends of the upwind. The Germans went on to claim a smooth victory in the race, but with the Swiss we had an interesting example of 'tack/cross' claims on the first beat. Fletcher/Bithell (GBR 6) tacked outside them and the Swiss were faced with forcing the Brits to tack underneath them or give them a pass (and maybe a beer in the bar afterwards). The Swiss took the more generous/ lower hassle option, choosing to duck the Brits and ended up winning their side of the beat.

By Race 3 the breeze had built a couple more knots and a few waves built up with teams starting to depower, but still well in control. Botin/Marra (ESP 97) had another great beat. They stuck to the left side of middle and used their great upwind speed to take a one-boatlength lead over the two French teams. With a great set the Spaniards extended.

The Germans had another good beat, but were a bit farther to the left than the Spanish and ended up in the second group to the top mark, back in around 6th, but still an extension of their stellar day.

49erFX Gold Fleet race analysis
Playing the tide game!

Race 1 - Most of the big names were, for lack of a better word, buried. However Grael / Kunze, Bekkering / Duetz managed to keep their noses clean enough to stay within the top ten, while Dobson / Tidey & Naæss / Ronningen were back in the high teens. The teams heading left managed to get away from the worst of the tide.

POL 888 - Melzacka/ Loboda led for much of the first lap but NED 6 - van Aanholt and Janmaat - split marks with the Poles at the leeward gate and by the final top mark the Dutch had moved into the lead. The vast majority of the fleet did a straight-set on starboard on the run to the finish, making it an easy race to defend for NED 6. However ARG 19 (Travascio/ Branz) broke away to the left on their own, a risky manoeuvre that paid off by the finish as they crossed in third just behind NED 1 who crossed in second behind their compatriots NED 6.

Race 2 - The top mark was incredibly crowded and a few teams didn't quite get it right. Lim/Low (SIN) tacked too close and barely got around the mark, then Grael/Kunze (BRA) had to take all the sterns and ended up rounding second to last.

USA92 - Paris Henken/ Anna Tobias - sail a stunning race and are doing a great job of keeping NED 1 Bekkering/ Duetz at bay. The Americans round the final windward mark with a lead of a few boatlengths, but have a complete brain fade on the final downwind leg. They overstood by an insane amount; the commentators called it a 'club error, a schoolboy error' gifting the race to NED1 on the final downwind. USA92 finish 6th. Ouch!

Find full results here.

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