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Moth Worlds: day 1 qualifiers

by Guy Nowell 3 Sep 2021 07:49 PDT 2-7 September 2021
Nicolai Jacobsen (HKG). Redoro Moth Worlds 2021 © Martina Orsini

The Moth Worlds 2021 has begun. In fact, by the time you read this, the second day of qualifications will be done, and there will be a pause before three days of The Real Thing get going. It’s a star-studded fleet. John Roberson described it as “fabulous. Just getting into the top half of the fleet would be an achievement. I see Olympic gold medallists down in the twenties after the first day on the water.”

He’s absolutely right. Check some of the names: Tom Slingsby, Nathan Outteridge, Iain Jensen, Ruggero Tita, Paul Goodison, Dylan Fletcher, Kyle Langford, Francesco Bruni, Simon Hiscocks, Kinley Fowler, David Hivey, Phil Robertson, Philipp Buhl, Brad Funk… and that’s not all the notables. However, this small selection can boast between them six Olympic gold medals, three silver, 45 World Championship titles, seven America’s Cups and eight SailGP appearances. And two WMRT titles. It’s some sort of Sailing Royalty out there on Lake Garda, enjoying the fragrance of the bruschetta wafting off the shore at the Fraglia Vela Malcesine.

Now look a little closer. The collection of names above have an average age of 36.57, average height 181.33cm and weigh on average,80.50kg. Interesting. In a recent item from the world of hand grenade journalism, Magnus Wheatley asked, “where on earth do we find the next generation of foiling superstars? Where is the next Tom Slingsby, Paul Goodison or Nathan Outteridge going to come from? What classes are the feeders? None of those guys, the modern day stars, grew up foiling. But what if you went straight from an Optimist into a foiler? How good would you be ten years later? What inherent technique would be baked into your sailing memory banks and how far could you take the sport?”

Good question, Magnus. We know someone who fits that bill exactly: Nicolai Jacobsen, who won the pre-Worlds. He finished the first day of the Moth Worlds 7th in the Blue fleet, and 14th overall in a combined start of 137. Nicolai is 19 years old, went straight from an Optimist to a Waszp at age 14, won the European Waszp Championship 2018, and has been sailing a Moth since only November last year. At 181cm he is bang on average height (see above), but says that he is trying to add a couple of kilos to his 71kg all-up weight. Are we on the right track here, Magnus?

After day 1 of qualifying, Nicolai said, “that was a very good start of the Worlds for me! Since the podium place in Foiling Week (July) my target has been a top 10 finish in the Worlds. This is an absolute marathon, with up to 16 races scheduled over seven days, and it’s so easy to add a lot of points with just a couple of bad individual races”.

“I was ok with the first two races: I was conservative with my starts, and the racing is so marginal. It’s high speed, and incredibly tight between the top boats - every second matters so much. The third race should have been my best result - I was in the top four at the beginning of the last run. Dylan Fletcher (49er Olympic Gold) is incredibly fast downwind… and I had Ruggi Tita (ITA) on the inside and got into a squeeze. Then I capsized 5 seconds before the finish line, and lost Phil Robertson too. Still, I managed 7th place and was happy and relieved”. ‘Happy and relieved’ could well be the understatement of the month.

While all the attention is on the big and established names (and press reports rarely mention anyone past 3rd), pause for a moment and see who is snapping at their transoms.

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