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US Sailing Team at the 49er, 49er FX & Nacra 17 2020 World Championships - Day 4

by Brittney Manning 13 Feb 08:03 PST
Andrew Mollerus and Ian MacDiarmid - 2020 49er, 49er FX & Nacra 17 World Championships, Day 4 © Adam Mustill

A glorious Melbourne day with clear blue skies and challenging wind from the east greeted the 2020 World Championship sailors on Port Phillip Bay.

The Nacra and 49erFX fleets were the first to hit the water this morning in what remained of a shifty, dying easterly. Both fleets got two races off in the eight-knot breeze before rounding out the day once a 10-12 knot building seabreeze filled from the south.

Close to shore, US Sailing's Olympic Performance Manager and Coach Sally Barkow (Park City, Utah) said the breeze coming around the point led to some geographical trends on the water. "It was hard to anticipate how far the breeze would shift one way or the other, but the right side was pretty favored, it was a pretty geographic day."

U.S. Nacra 17 athlete Sarah Newberry (Miami, Fla.) and David Liebenberg (Livermore, Calif.) excelled in the shifty, geographic conditions. The pair finished two of the three races in the top five and moved up to 10th overall. Their advances through the fleet were due to a combination of several skills within their boat.

"Sarah and David had a great day," Barkow continued. "They sailed really well tactically speaking and they managed to pull themselves out of some tough spots off the starts. They also transitioned their boat set up according to what we anticipated the breeze would do. As it got lighter, they made a really good adjustment and then when the seabreeze filled, we made an adjustment back. Having confidence in their speed and setup let them have more time to look out of the boat. Finally, their communication onboard has been great. Working together as a team, you can see their two minds trying to sail one boat instead of sailing as individuals."

Good communication and a steady mindset prove to be successful for the US Sailing Team athletes in other fleets as well. 49erFX sailors Stephanie Roble (East Troy, Wisc.) and Maggie Shea (Wilmette, Ill.) have performed incredibly consistently this week. The pair is currently in 7th place overall. So far, they've also finished all but two races in the top ten.

Though their coach Giulia Conti (ITA) says their consistency is in part thanks to some awesome starts that have set them up in the front of the pack off the line, she also mentions that a "one step at a time" approach has worked well for the team. "They were trying to sail conservatively during the qualifying in order to get safely through the finals," she said. "Now, they're trying to be a little more aggressive in this next stage, all the time focusing on the present, leg by leg."

The 49er men had a particularly challenging day. After a postponement spent waiting for the weather forecast to settle in, U.S. athletes Nevin Snow (San Diego, Calif.) and Dane Wilson (Ojai, Calif.) battled the tricky conditions to move up the ranks to 18th overall.

Snow and Wilson teamed up only just about a year ago, making their several top 10 finishes this week all the more impressive. The US Sailing Team Men's 49er Coach, Mark Asquith (GBR) thinks that their rapid progress and consistent performance is thanks to their process between races. "Nevin and Dane were strong in what was a hugely challenging day. It's not an easy ride for any team here in Melbourne," he said. "One of their great stand out skills is their ability to talk through tough races and move fresh into the next one. It makes both of them much more coachable."

Over the next two days, U.S. athletes will be lining up for the final races that will determine the 2020 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team. In Geelong, the athletes are looking forward to continuing the final series tomorrow. They will have a total of five more fleet races between tomorrow and Saturday to qualify for the final medal races scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile in Sandringham, the Men's Laser sailors have just wrapped the final day of the qualifying series at the ILCA Laser Standard Men's World Championship. All six races of the qualifying series have now been sailed and the fleets will be split into gold, silver, and bronze for the remaining three days of the championship, meaning the top 42 sailors will come together for the first time in the regatta. U.S. competitors Chris Barnard (Newport Beach, Calif.) and Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.) have both qualified for gold fleet, and Leo Boucher (West River, Md.) will be competing in bronze fleet.

Barnard continues his slow and steady streak. He's finished the bulk of his races around the top 10 and is sitting in 25th overall. Though he's not necessarily dominating the leaderboard, his coach John Bertrand (San Mateo, Calif.) believes the slow and steady process will deliver over the next few days. "We've done exactly what we wanted to do for the qualification, which was a really solid series and a process we have confidence in," he said. "It's been pretty well planned in terms of executing a race that suits him really well, which also leads to what you're seeing: a really consistent regatta. In gold fleet, there's a lot more going on, people take more risk. I think if we remain consistent, over time that will pay off."

"Chris is also a great starter and he is probably one of the best tactical sailors that I've coached. So even with his challenges, he still puts together really good races. So now that we're going into the finals, we're kind of ratcheting it up in terms of all the best sailors are consolidating into one fleet. So we'll look each day and see if we need to continue what we're doing or adjust our process in terms of taking more risk, or otherwise."

Barnard's fellow U.S. athlete Charlie Buckingham is also looking forward to starting the final series tomorrow. Though he had a difficult day on the water today and currently stands in 30th, he's optimistic about the opportunities he has to move up through the fleet. "Even though his position overall isn't great, the point total is still pretty tight so a few races in the gold fleet, positions will still change quite a bit," said Buckingham's coach, Mark Ivey (San Francisco, Calif.).

"I think Charlie's been in the mix with a bunch of great sailors already, but it's going to be great to see all of the big players in one fleet," he continued. "The races they've gone through are definitely a test, but now we see more of what you expect at a worlds, the cream has risen to the top, they're in the finals and you get to see how the fleets behave differently when you have a dense group of talent. We want to keep strong and keep fighting and grinding it out."

Tomorrow, the 2020 Laser World Championships will start again at 2:00 p.m., local time. At the 2020 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships in Geelong, races will begin at 10:55 a.m., local time. The Worlds in Geelong will also be broadcast live. Streaming is available here.

49er - view full results

  • Andrew Mollerus and Ian MacDiarmid, 13th
  • Nevin Snow and Dane Wilson, 18th
  • Ian Barrows and Mitchell Kiss, 21st
  • Harry Melges IV and Finn Rowe, 23rd
  • Judge Ryan and Hans Henken, 26th

49erFX - view full results

  • Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea, 7th
  • Paris Henken and Anna Tobias, 10th

Nacra 17 - view full results

  • Sarah Newberry and David Liebenberg, 10th
  • Riley Gibbs and Anna Weis, 18th
  • Ravi Parent and Caroline Atwood, 26th

Laser - view full results

  • Chris Barnard, 25th
  • Charlie Buckingham, 30th
  • Leo Boucher, 104th

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