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470 World Championship in Llucmajor, Mallorca - Day 1

by Andy Rice 27 Feb 11:52 PST 26 February - 3 March 2024
470 Worlds in Llucmajor Day 1: Tetsuya Isozaki & Yurie Seki (JPN) © Bernardí Bibiloni / Int. 470 Class

Japan came to the 470 World Championship in Llucmajor, Mallorca, as defending champions. Lying in fifth place after three tricky, light-wind races is not at all a bad start for the 2023 World Champions Keiju Okada and Miho Yoshioka.

However, they're only the third-placed Japanese at this early stage of the competition. Holding the top two spots are Tetsuya Isozaki and Yurie Seki (2023 World bronze medallists) and wife/husband team in second place, Ai and Yugo Yoshida.

So Japan sit in 1st, 2nd and 5th overall, although the scoreboard is a little deceptive at this early stage of the competition. Currently the teams are counting their top two scores and discarding their worst. In the case of the leading two Japanese teams, they both scored a 1,2 but by strange coincidence both are also discarding a 21st.

So the Japanese would probably much rather have the more consistent set of scores racked up by the German team, Simon Diesch and Anna Markfort who scored 3,1,5 across the three races in Yellow Group.

Markfort commented after coming ashore: "This morning I said today would be 'adapt or die' and fortunately we adapted more than we died. The last race was quite a bit of a fight, we had a bit of muck-up on board, we sailed past the gate marks because we couldn't get our spinnaker down and lost five boats. But we gained them back and gained back some more, so not so bad. After the waiting this morning it's really nice to get three races in, and really nice that the sun came out, a good start to the regatta."

Diesch and Markfort always have a song for the day, and today their choice was the 1976 disco hit by Boney M, 'Sunny'. First line of the song couldn't have been more apt for today's weather in Mallorca, "Sunny, yesterday my life was filled with rain..." and 'Sunny' also happens to be the name of the boat that Diesch and Markfort are sailing in the Worlds. Like the rest of the fleet, the Germans will be praying they've seen the last of the rain which has been such a feature of the past 48 hours.

Second-best boat of the day were the only Spanish team among the 63 entries, runners-up at the past two Worlds, Jordi Xammar and Nora Brugman. Although nominally in fourth overall, their scores of 3,1,7 in Blue Group are better than that. The 2020 Olympic bronze medallist Xammar commented: "A very good day. It's important to get off to a good start, that's what we had set as our goal, and we're happy."

With the north-westerly breeze averaging between 6 to 9 knots, with moments of 2 knot lulls and 12 knots gusts, it was certainly a 'heads out of the boat' day for the sailors, as Xammar explained. "Today's conditions are not our ideal conditions, but we've worked hard on them over the last few months and we're very happy with how we've sailed. It's going to be a complicated week in terms of conditions, but we are very focused on taking it one day at a time."

There are so many national trials going on at the Worlds, the stories within the story. Aside from the close fight between the Japanese crews all fighting for selection, and the Germans too, it's important for Matisse Pacaud and Lucie de Gennes, the three-time 470 Youth World Champions, that they put in a performance worthy of consideration for French selection ahead of the French favourites. That's the massively experienced team of Camille Lecointre and Jeremie Mion who hold so many Olympic and world medals between them. Currently the young French hold 6th overall just one place ahead of their more experienced rivals.

A fun fact for the opening race of the Championship, when mother of two, Lecointre took the winner's gun in Blue Group. Meanwhile the other mum, Ai Yoshida with husband (and father) Yugo Yoshida took a Yellow Group win for Japan. Lecointre joked about the mums going fast so early in the competition: "Well we're used to waking up early!"

Two more races are on the schedule for Wednesday which should bring an end to the Qualifying phase before the fleet gets divided into Gold and Silver for the next three days of competition.

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