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Vaikobi 2024 LEADERBOARD

470 World Championship in Llucmajor, Mallorca - Day 5

by Andy Rice 2 Mar 09:46 PST 26 February - 3 March 2024
470 World Championship in Llucmajor, Mallorca - Day 5 © Bernardí Bibiloni / Int. 470 Class

Jordi Xammar and Nora Brugman (ESP) revelled in the strongest wind of the regatta to shoot to the top of the leaderboard on Day 5 of the 470 World Championship in Mallorca.

It was a different kind of racing today, with the strongest wind of the week blowing from an onshore direction. It was more of a speed race with a higher-than-usual emphasis on getting a good start and the ability to hold starboard tack in clear over to the left-hand side of the course closer to the shore.

The Spanish won the first race but started less well in the next. Xammar and Brugman were back in 21st place at the first windward mark but using their legendary downwind surfing skills they made good gains with the spinnaker on the waves and were sailing fast and smart on the upwind legs. By the finish the Spanish had recovered to 6th place and given themselves an 11-point advantage over the rest of the fleet.

The rise in Spanish fortunes coincided with the arrival of Xammar's mother, wife and other family members and they'll be here on Sunday to see if their team can take their first world title in the 470. "It will be good to have the family here for our Medal Race tomorrow," smiled Xammar who is looking forward to an even windier finale on the Bay of Palma tomorrow.

After such a stellar week in predominantly light winds, Tetsuya Isozaki and Yuri Seki came unstuck today. The Japanese team scored two 25th places in the stronger breeze and they tumbled from 1st to 8th in the overall standings. However the other leading Japanese team, defending World Champions Keiju Okada and Miho Yoshioka, managed to hold on to 3rd overall and have an outside shot at the gold medal if the Spanish falter.

There were other big gainers on the scoreboard including Great Britain's Vita Heathcote and Chris 'Twiggy' Grube who scored a 9,2 to lift themselves to 2nd overall, 11 points behind the Spanish. With Italy and Greece failing to make it into the 10-boat Medal Race, Great Britain has secured the single European continent spot for the Olympic Games this summer, so there was plenty to be happy about in the British camp. With Martin Wrigley and Bettine Harris sitting in 9th place, it appears that the British have recovered from the post-Tokyo slump in their 470 fortunes.

Like the presence of Xammar's family bringing good fortune to the Spanish, perhaps it's Vita's dad George doing the housework that has been part of the winning British formula this week. "I worry about the number of pots and pans that Vita uses to do the cooking," said George. "So I like to help with the washing-up, otherwise poor old Twiggy would be at the kitchen sink all night clearing up after Vita."

Vita was over the moon with how the day had gone and was relishing the Medal Race battle on Saturday. "Qualifying the country for the Games and having the day we had today on the water, there's a lot to be happy about," she grinned. Despite teaming up with Grube only a year ago, amazingly this is only their second regatta together having first competed as a team at last year's Worlds in The Hague. "We've been focusing on getting the basics sorted, the communication between us and stuff like that," said Grube, a veteran of the past two Olympics. "We've got a lot more we need to work on, but so far so good."

It was also Olympic qualification joy for the team from Angola, Manuela Paulo and Matias Montinho. Fighting it out for African qualification with their friends and rivals from Mozambique, the Angolans prevailed by just 5 points in Silver Fleet. Paulo has been sailing for only two years and now she is on the road to Paris 2024. "I am very excited to be going to the Olympics, but I don't know what to expect! I'm sure it will be a good experience. Now we have to train a lot. My main problem on board is that I don't weigh much, so I have to work on gaining weight and keep training."

Montinho was more relieved to have survived the day than excited to be going to the Games. "That day was the worst! We have never sailed in so much wind before. Now we are going to Angola to continue training. In April we will go to Portugal to carry on the training, then to the Olympic Regatta in Marseille." This team doesn't even own a 470. They chartered a boat for the Worlds and have yet to work out their next steps. The Angola Sailing Federation has to decide if we can buy our own boat, but for the moment we have a rented one in Portugal."

All week the breeze has ratcheted up another level and it looks like the 10-boat showdown, the Medal Race is set to take place in even bigger breeze. Spain hold the upper hand going into the last day but if capsizing is on the cards then expect a few more twists and turns before the medals are finally handed out on Sunday afternoon at the Club Nàutic S'Arenal.

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