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RS Sailing 2021 - LEADERBOARD

470 World Championship in Llucmajor, Mallorca - Day 2

by Andy Rice 28 Feb 09:11 PST 26 February - 3 March 2024
470 World Championship in Llucmajor, Mallorca, Day 2 © Bernardí Bibiloni / Int. 470 Class

Through all the random gusts, lulls and big windshifts of day 2 at the 470 World Championship in Llucmajor, Mallorca, the Japanese teams continue to hold their nerve as well as the overall lead.

The defending World Champions Keiju Okada and Miho Yoshioka enjoyed a really good couple of Qualifying races in the shifty northerly breeze, with the breeze pulsing from 10 to 18 knots throughout the afternoon. Scores of 3,4 move them up to second overall and just a point behind their teammates and rivals for Olympic selection, Tetsuya Isozaki and Yurie Seki.

"Pressure makes us faster"

"We are in our selection trials now," said Seki, "and that is why I think we are performing so well. We enjoy the pressure and that makes us sail faster. We have good boat speed and we are managing to find a good way through all the changes on the race course."

The other Japanese team, wife and husband combo Ai and Yugo Yoshida may have slipped down to fifth overall but it's still a stellar collective performance by the Japanese.

The Germans, on the other hand, are experiencing a much more mixed competition. Simon Diesch and Anna Markfort continue to hold third place overall and are sailing incredibly consistently through all the ups and downs of the race course in the Bay of Palma, but the other leading lights in this strong squad are struggling to make themselves heard in Mallorca. The 2022 World Champions Luise Wanser and Philipp Autenrieth are down in 19th. The 2023 silver medallists at the Olympic Test Event, husband and wife team Malte and Anastasiya Winkel have squeaked into Gold Fleet in 30th place with a lot of work to do.

A gift from the left

The French selectors will be watching their crews closely to decide who will be representing the country on home waters at this summer's Olympic Regatta. Today Camille Lecointre and Jeremie Mion sailed a very solid couple of races (1,9) to rise to fourth overall, 3 points back from the Germans. The race win came down to being patient and grasping the opportunity when it came along, as former men's World Champion Mion explained: "We were somewhere in the top 10 when we saw a good line of breeze and shift on the left and we went for it, and it took us into first place. It was a good opportunity to move ahead and it gave us the advantage we needed to kill the game."

Their day could have gone even better but for some boat trouble, said Mion. "We felt some vibration and looked up at the rig, nothing wrong there. Then we realised our slot gasket a strip of Mylar plastic on the centreboard case to keep the water out was coming off and flapping underneath the boat. That certainly didn't help and I think we lost some places because of it, but I'm still pleased with our day because we kept our heads out of the boat and looking around for the danger and the opportunity."

A 1-2 for the Brits

The British, along with the Italians and a number of other nations, have yet to secure a place at the Olympic Regatta this summer. Vita Heathcote is now sailing with double Olympian Chris Grube and, like the French, this British crew won a race and came 9th in the other. However they were being taken into a protest for a busy leeward mark rounding incident by the German team Wanser and Autenrieth so they have yet to see if the 9th place will remain on the board or be downgraded to a disqualification.

As for the race win, that's a vital confirmation of their efforts over the winter, with British teammates and rivals Martin Wrigley and Bettine Harris finishing in second behind Heathcote and Grube. This sees the top two British teams in 6th and 8th overall, putting the nation in the box seat for that one European qualification spot available from this regatta.

Grube was quietly pleased with the race win without wanting to make too much of it. "We got in sync with the breeze and each other and managed to stretch away to quite a good lead, probably the length of the last reach to the finish," said the 39-year-old hoping to represent Great Britain at his third successive Games. "Vita and I only started sailing together two weeks before last year's Worlds and we managed to win a race there. Amazingly this is only our second event together here, but we've done a lot of training now, and it's nice to win another race at a Worlds. We've been working hard as a squad to all raise our game so it's good to see it making a difference on the race course."

Points are tight into Gold Fleet

Behind the top two Japanese teams, the next best performers from day 2 were Nitai Hasson and Noa Lasry whose scores of 2,6 raise the Israelis to 11th overall and just a point out of the top 10. With scores tightly bunched, no one is secure at this early phase of the regatta. There are many reasons for the lower-ranked teams to keep fighting and for the higher-ranked teams to take none of their success for granted.

On Thursday, Gold Fleet racing begins with two races on the schedule. The sun is set to return to Palma although the wind is looking light, so the hope is for a sea breeze to arrive in the afternoon. Gold Fleet competition concludes on Saturday with the top 10 teams progressing to the Medal Race shoot-out this Sunday.

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