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Zhik 2024 March - LEADERBOARD

470 World Championship in Llucmajor, Mallorca - Day 3

by Andy Rice 29 Feb 09:37 PST 26 February - 3 March 2024
Malte Winkel & Anastasiya Winkel (GER) - 470 World Championship in Llucmajor, Mallorca, Day 3 © Bernardí Bibiloni / Int. 470 Class

Malte and Anastasiya Winkel knew they'd have to pull something special out of the bag to get their 470 World Championships back on track.

Thursday, 29 February was Day 3 of the competition and the first day of Gold Fleet competition following two nerve-jangling days of Qualifying races in shifty, gusty northerlies blowing off the island of Mallorca into the Bay of Palma.

Silver medallists at last year's Olympic Test Regatta in Marseille, the Winkels are quite capable of world-class performances, so scraping into Gold Fleet in 30th place, only just above the cut for Silver Fleet, is not where this husband and wife crew expect to find themselves.

Back pain leads to fight back

The day didn't start well either, with Malte suffering from severe back pain. He knows exactly when and how he did it. "Yesterday we hoisted the kite and started sailing on the reach but it wasn't quite hoisted properly so I tried to pull up the rest of the halyard when it was loaded, and I hurt my back doing it."

Anastasiya added: "Malte said when he got up this morning 'somehow I need to survive this day, I don't need to sail well, just survive.' I think the pain took so much attention he couldn't feel the pressure on the water. He just sailed.

And they 'just' sailed to a scoreline of 1,7, making the Germans the best performing boat of the day. Now they're up to 16th, so the Winkels still have a long way to climb the rest of the mountain, but it's a good start to the comeback. They're hoping that the predicted increase in wind for the coming days will shake up the pecking order in their favour.

Surprising success for sick Swedes

Strangely one of the other top-performing boats of the day was also struggling with illness. Like GER-13, Sweden's Anton Dahlberg and Lovisa Karlsson have made a sub-standard start to their regatta but today's scores of 9,1 now lift the Swedes to 13th overall. It comes as somewhat of a relief after Karlsson was barely able to stand up this morning, as Dahlberg explained: "Lovisa has been feeling really ill and so this morning I came down to rig up the boat and she only got out of bed as late as she could to come down to the club and get into the boat."

Dahlberg was grateful that the breeze was only blowing around 6 to 9 knots, insufficient for the Oscar flag to be flying when the crews are permitted to use extreme body kinetics to pump the boat through the air and the water. So at least Karlsson was able to preserve her limited energy. "We were lucky it was light and not so physical today," said Dahlberg, the Tokyo Olympic silver medallist. "We have had a really difficult start to this regatta. We know we have the knife on our throats, and we had to sail very well today even to be in the game. We enjoyed it out there today. It was tricky conditions and we managed to perform very well, which I'm super happy with."

Just another manic Markfort

Where one German team shot up the rankings today, another slipped down, although you'd never be able to tell from Anna Markfort's ever-sunny disposition. After racking up scores of 26,22, Markfort and her helmsman Simon Diesch drop from 3rd to 6th overall. Their 'song for the day' was "Just another Manic Monday" by The Bangles, even if it was a Thursday. "You're allowed to change the lyrics occasionally," she laughed.

Being able to laugh in the face of adversity is a key characteristic in Olympic sailing where you never know what's around the next corner. Many sailors today were saying the breeze was unreadable. "You had to sail in the moment," said Malte Winkel. "We did this in the first race that we won, and then we started to chase what we thought looked like good breeze in another place, but when you got there it had disappeared."

Rising sun shows no sign of setting yet

Through the rain of the past few days to the sunshine of today, the Japanese have shone throughout. Tetsuya Isozaki and Yurie Seki have stretched their advantage to four points at the top of the leaderboard after another phenomenally consistent performance, scoring 5,4 from the day. Although the defending World Champions Keiju Okada and Miho Yoshioka ended the afternoon with a disastrous 28th, it has been the only blip in their brilliant regatta so far. They hold second place overall quite comfortably ahead of the local Spanish favourites Jordi Xammar and Nora Brugman in third overall.

There are three days of competition remaining, and from now on it looks set to be windy. So any of the light-wind specialists who have done well in the first three days are in for a rude awakening. Whoever wins these 470 Worlds will be a true all-rounder, a master of all conditions.

Gold Fleet competition concludes on Saturday with the top 10 teams progressing to the Medal Race shoot-out this Sunday.

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