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Dream start for Dobson and Tidey to top 49erFX fleet

by Will Carson, RYA 27 Jul 03:58 PDT 25 July - 4 August 2021
Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey in the Women's 49erFX fleet on Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Competition Day 3 © Sailing Energy / World Sailing

There was a marked change in weather at Enoshima on Tuesday with a wet, cooler and blustery 14-18 knots Northerly. A welcome arrival after a long build-up in lighter winds, but also a new challenge. The wind shut down mid-afternoon which caused delays.

There was some obvious rust in the windy conditions across the fleets and nations, but it was a dream start for Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey in the 49erFX, taking the first race of their campaign by a clear margin on the rest of the fleet. The pair backed it up with another race win and a sixth place to consolidate top spot on the leaderboard.

Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell in the 49er fleet were narrowly beaten to the win in the only race of the day to sit second overall.

Giles Scott began his Olympic Finn title defence with a pair of ninth place finishes to sit ninth overall while Elliot Hanson in the ILCA 7 / Laser has moved up into 8th with a 3rd and 10th, however he is now carrying a 28th as a discard from the final race.

Ali Young in the ILCA 6 / Radial fleet continues slow progress through the fleet moving up to 12th with two 12th place race finishes.

The Laser and Radial fleets take a break tomorrow as the windsurfers return to action joining the Finns, 49ers and 49erFXs. Wednesday will also see the first taste of racing for the 470 men and women and the Nacra 17 fleet.



Charlotte Dobson, 35, from Rhu, Scotland, said:

"It was a great day. I think if someone had told us we would have those results on day one yesterday we would have grabbed their hand off. Today was about being a bit boring but brave if we saw an opportunity, and that's what we did a little bit today.

"It is really tricky sailing these boats in shifty conditions were there is such differences in pressure. You're in the middle of a manoeuvre and you get a massive wind shift it doesn't make you look great when you capsize in an event like this but it's so easy to do. I'm grateful that we avoided it today and I hope it's not our turn tomorrow.

"There's a range of results and I think that is the nature of puffy, windy racing, certainly in Japan. We have seen this in preparations over the last couple of years so I think, you know, the boring things, it's going to be a long series and just try and stay out of trouble. We will try and put together a series, it's not very exciting, it's boring, but if we can have as many boring days as possible then that is great.

"The lead up to this regatta has been less than seven knots, and then you have these conditions. I don't think everyone is dialled in to the conditions yet but we have been racing these types of conditions here for the last four years. You just have to get the notebook out and try to remember the tempo of those days and how those days feel.

"Sometimes it was fast and sometimes it was slow today. I don't think it was much of a boat speed day. I think it was the type of day that Sas does really well which is make the boat quiet and she's all over making the boat go well so I can get my head out of the boat and look around so we have on maximum focus on where we should be."

Saskia Tidey, 28, from Portland, Dorset, said:

"It was a super tricky day and a day where you have to have teamwork involved. My job as crew is keep the boat fast in the water and not create any noise or distraction and Charlotte is head out of the boat and see where the next gains are coming from. It was up and down with wind strength today so super, super hard, but we had a good one.

"What's important for us is not to do anything that surprises us or anyone else, with the conditions out there we just need to keep it consistent and back each other to deliver what we already know."


Dylan Fletcher, 33, from Thames Ditton, Surrey, said:

"Yeah a good start. Not quite as good as my fiancé's [teammate Charlotte Dobson] but we'll take that. Second place. There's some rivalry but we do wish each other the best.

"I'd love to start the Olympics with two bullets but ultimately we've got to focus on our role and we're just happy that our first race was solid, so we're happy with that.

"I guess every country has had different levels of lockdown and restrictions but for us we're lucky we had a strong British squad to train with and they really helped push us and it has been fantastic.

"I think it's definitely been an unusual Games but ultimately you've just got to do it on the water and hope that that's enough.

"In the 49er class especially Britain has been really strong but at this point we've never won Gold so it would be amazing and quite a fairy tale if we could finish that off here."

Stu Bithell, 34, from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, said:

"Yeah we had a good race, second going down the last run. I think the Irish got a little bit conservative and opened the door a little bit. There was an opportunity for us to try to nip ahead of them on the finish line but they just managed to hold on and it was quite good fun actually on the slipway just winding them up a little bit, but it's all good fun. We like the Irish."

"There's rivalry throughout everyone really. Everyone's here to do a job and there's going to be fierce rivalry to the end I imagine.

"I think we're feeling confident. It's not been the perfect lead up for anyone, we've certainly not had as much time in venue as we had hoped this year and neither has anyone else so yeah we're obviously happy with how things have gone today, and not just results, but some of the processes in place, so yeah we're really happy with those."


Giles Scott, 34, from Huntingdon, Cambs, said:

"It was a long tricky day. Super shifty in the first one and racing underneath the headland with a 40 degree shift which I got caught on the wrong side of. And a fair few spins in the second race. Not the best of starts but a long way to go and I'll attack more tomorrow.

"It's so changeable the weather. I think it's meant to come on shore tomorrow which will be nice. This morning it was a bit windier and also tomorrow, so I think I have to go home, reset, refuel and come out tomorrow swinging."

Laser Standard

Elliot Hanson, 27, from Macclesfield, Cheshire, said:

"I had a really solid two races and felt like I was sailing well, but I made a big mistake in the third and paid the price.

"I basically did the exact opposite of what I should have done, but hindsight is wonderful. It's a shame to end the day like that - I'd have preferred it if my scores were the opposite way round so I finished the day on a high.

"I'm now carrying a big score as my discard so I'm going to have to be squeaky clean for the last four races. I'm still in the mix though, so I will go back, regroup, enjoy a rest day tomorrow and come back out fighting on Thursday."

Laser Radial

Ali Young, 34, from Bewdley, Worcestershire, said:

"There were pretty big shifts out on the course today. There were big pressure differences so it was tough racing. It was polar opposite of what we had in the training beforehand. Every day seems to be different conditions and it's about trying to adapt to each new day.

"I feel like I am battling hard but not making much progress. Today was fun racing but it just didn't turn out that good for me.

"I'll do a little review of how I've got on so far and see what I can change to attack the next four races."

Full results and the competition schedule can be found here.

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