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Rooster 2023 - LEADERBOARD

49er and 49erFX World Championships at Lanzarote - Preview

by Andy Rice 4 Mar 11:32 PST 4-10 March 2024
49er and 49erFX World Championships © Sailing Energy / Marina Rubicón

The sailors at the 49er and 49erFX World Championships know the waters of Lanzarote better than almost any other. It has become the training ground of choice for many of the teams from around the world.

On the eve of six days of competition, the 126 teams from 36 nations are looking at a forecast of moderate to strong northerly breezes for the coming week. Would you believe it! It's another case of 'not normally like this', the oft-spoken refrain before a sailing regatta.

Shifty Stuff

Monday afternoon was the official practice race, and an opportunity for the sailors to make a final check-in on the conditions. German 49er sailor Fabian Rieger said: "It's going to be a tricky wind direction if we get northerlies like we had just now. Shifts up to 30 degrees and if you went left you got a shift from the left, and if you went right it came from the right. But it was never the same, very difficult to make out a pattern to the breeze."

That being the case, it could be a high-scoring regatta as teams struggle to make sense of the wind funnelling around and over the peaks and troughs of Lanzarote's volcanic landscape.

Fourth time for the Dutch?

Whatever weather comes their way, Bart Lambriex and Floris van der Werken have to be considered the favourites for 49er victory. The Dutch team have won the previous three world titles in an array of different conditions, firstly in Oman, then Canada and last year in front of a home crowd in The Hague. They don't appear to have any weaknesses although the rest of the 74-boat fleet will be doing everything to prove the Dutch are not so invincible.

The forecast suggests the sailors will be fully stretched on the trapeze for most of the week, which surely marks out defending World Champions Vilma Bobeck and Rebecca Netzler as hot favourites to defend their first world title won last year in The Hague. But that was in much more stable breeze and the 30 degree windshifts gusting off Lanzarote's shore could play into the hands of other canny operators in the FX fleet. Good boat speed never hurts, but smart strategy and fast tactical thinking under pressure will doubtless be part of the winning formula in Lanzarote.

Shock Retirements

Sad to report that some leading lights will be absent from competition after some eleventh-hour illness and injuries have sent them home early. The 470 Olympic Champion from 2016 and the 2018 49er World Champion, Sime Fantela has been forced to fly home to Croatia due to severe illness. Logan Dunning Beck suffered a fractured fibula in a practice race during the weekend and is set to fly back to New Zealand, and is likely to be out of action for a number of weeks. It's shocking misfortune for the Croatian and Kiwi skippers, both of them world-class talents who might well have been contenders for a podium finish at Marina Rubicon. With such major setbacks in Olympic year, it's a devastating situation, and all the fleet wish them well with speedy recoveries.

Narrow escape for Diego

Diego Botin was lucky to have narrowly escaped becoming another retiree after a close call during training. Doing his best to avoid a collision with another boat resulted in the Spanish skipper hanging by his foot from the footloop with the boat on its side. Botin was fortunate to avoid breaking his foot or ankle. "I couldn't walk the next day, but it has been OK since," he smiled, just four days after the incident. With Botin and crew Florian Trittel only recently returned from SailGP duties in Sydney, the Spanish team have barely had time to get over their jet lag but they are among the front runners for toppling the Dutch from their perch.

This evening the sailors get together for the Opening Ceremony parade around the Marina Rubicon and then head home for an early evening as they prepare mind and body for the rigours of the coming week.

The Lanzarote International Regatta is organized by Marina Rubicón and has the collaboration of the Royal Canarian Sailing Federation, as well as the institutional support of the Tourism area of the Lanzarote Cabildo through the sports product European Sports Destination (managed by SPEL-Turismo Lanzarote), Promotur Turismo de Canarias, the Yaiza City Council and the private entities Dinghycoach, Naviera Armas and Cabrera Medina (Cicar)

Find out more on the event website.

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