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Zhik 2020 AnneMarieRindom LEADERBOARD

US Sailing Team at the 49er, 49er FX & Nacra 17 2020 World Championships - Day 2

by Brittney Manning 11 Feb 06:16 PST
Andrew Mollerus and Ian MacDiarmid Leading the Men's 49er fleet at the 2020 World Championships © Sailing Energy

As anticipated, the conditions at the 2020 World Championships on Port Phillip Bay, Australia are proving to be challenging and unstable. The Nacra and 49erFX classes were the first to race on what served as the opening day after yesterday's postponement.

The fleets arrived on the racecourse in a dying, unstable westerly breeze. While each was able to finish one race in about 5-6 knots featuring dramatic shifts that weren't always easy to see on the water, everyone welcomed the more stable, south-southeasterly that eventually filled at about 8-10 knots in the afternoon.

Thanks to the challenging conditions, the U.S. Nacra 17 athletes hit the water today with a game plan of focusing on getting off the line well. US Sailing's Olympic Performance Manager and Coach Sally Barkow (Park City, Utah) said, "All three teams are going really well on the downwind, so the major thing today was the starting line decision and getting away on the first shift."

Sarah Newberry (Miami, Fla.) and David Liebenberg (Livermore, Calif.) did just that and currently lead the American competitors, standing in 11th overall.

"They really prioritized their starts and just stuck to their game plan for the first beat. Their big focus for the day was to get clean off the starting line and not make it too complicated," added Barkow. "In these unstable conditions, there's a combination of having the ability to get your eyes out of the boat but keeping it simple. Three no space to make it complicated and try to catch every shift. The conditions are unstable enough that you have to go with what you see."

The 49erFX women likewise faced the worst of the day's unstable conditions. The fleet saw several general recalls thanks to the dramatic shifts in the morning. Despite the long day on the water, U.S. athletes Stephanie Roble (East Troy, Wisc.) and Maggie Shea (Wilmette, Ill.) had a consistent day at the front of the pack. In the first race of the day, they demonstrated an impressive comeback after rounding the first mark in 21st. The pair managed to grind back through the fleet and turn the race into a third-place finish.

Their coach Giulia Conti (ITA) attributes their impressive first race and two subsequent races (that were also top ten finishes) to their steady focus and mindset, "They were really good at being patient. Knowing that on a day like this there are a lot of ups and downs during the race, they took every opportunity to climb each and gain a few boats. They were just sticking to their process and their routine, like in every other regatta. They were focused on the present, race by race, leg by leg, meter by meter."

With a later start time, the Men's 49er sailors saw more consistent conditions on the west side of the bay, though that still proves to be a relative term on Port Phillip. By the time their fleet had begun racing, the breeze was significantly more stable in direction than the early morning and mid-day conditions, but the athletes still saw a broad range in velocity and had plenty of shifts to play with.

Today, the young American 49er squad demonstrated their depth ability to play at the front of the fleet. All of the U.S. 49er sailors finished at least one race in the top 10.

As US Sailing Team 49er coach Mark Asquith (GBR) puts it, "Today was just about execution of a clean day. No OCS. No rules issues. All of the teams did a great job of fighting for every place right into the finish. They were all rolling with the punches and looking for the next opportunity to pass boats."

"I'm expecting to see all five U.S. 49er teams doing absolutely everything they can to get to gold fleet. At this stage, they need to deliver on everything," he continued. It seems the athletes are starting in a good place to achieve just that. All five are currently in the top half of the fleet and the U.S. has two boats sitting in the top ten. Andrew Mollerus (Larchmont, N.Y.) and Ian MacDiarmid (Delray Beach, Fla.) are currently ranked fifth after finishing today's races in fifth, fifth, and first. Not far behind, Harry Melges IV (Lake Geneva, Wisc.) and Finn Rowe (Lake Forest, Ill.) are in seventh.

On the other side of Port Phillip, the Lasers likewise had the luck of beginning racing later in the afternoon in the slightly more stable conditions. After each of the three fleets finished two races, U.S. athletes Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.) and Chris Barnard (Newport Beach, Calif.) began the event on solid footing. Buckingham currently leads the Americans in 20th, while Barnard trails closely in 27th.

Similar to his US Sailing Teammates in the 49erFX class, Buckingham also began the day with an impressive comeback in the first race of the event. He started on the wrong side of a significant right shift on the first beat and rounded the top mark deeper than he would have liked. Despite missing that first shift, he managed to climb back to 12th overall.

"Charlie had to battle all the way around and made a good comeback back to get to 12th. I think that was a good character test for him. For the first race of the regatta, not being in an awesome spot and getting back to a 12th was a really good result," said his coach, Mark Ivey (San Francisco, Calif.). Buckingham's second race was even stronger than the first. Battling with the top players all the way around the course, he finished fourth.

Tomorrow, all of the athletes are anticipating more challenging conditions. It seems that those who can stay sharp and adaptable to constant change will continue to prevail.

Racing begins at the 2020 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships in Geelong at 10:55 a.m., local time. In Sandringham, the 2020 Laser World Championships will start again at 2:00 p.m., local time.

U.S. Results after Day 2:

49er - view full results

  • Andrew Mollerus and Ian MacDiarmid, 5th
  • Harry Melges IV and Finn Rowe, 7th
  • Nevin Snow and Dane Wilson, 19th
  • Ian Barrows and Mitchell Kiss, 29th
  • Judge Ryan and Hans Henken, 31st
49erFX - view full results
  • Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea, 7th
  • Paris Henken and Anna Tobias, 31st
Nacra 17 - view full results
  • Sarah Newberry and David Liebenberg, 11th
  • Riley Gibbs and Anna Weis, 18th
  • Ravi Parent and Caroline Atwood, 25th
Laser - view full results
  • Charlie Buckingham, 20th
  • Chris Barnard, 27th
  • Leo Boucher, 103rd

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