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49er and 49erFX World Championships at Lanzarote - Day 4

by Lanzarote Sailing Center 8 Mar 15:23 PST 4-10 March 2024

Day 4 of the Worlds was the first day of Gold Fleet Racing, when the top 25 teams went head to head for the first time in three intense races.

There were so many dimensions to today's race course - big wind shifts, gusts and lulls, all played out on a three-dimensional playing field of rolling Atlantic swell.

It was a day that demanded patience, tactical courage and quick thinking. Time for the Brazilians Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) to step up. To remind us why they are the double Olympic Champions.

Belgian Conga

The Brazilians were the only team to score all top 10s, on a day where it was so tricky that Isaura Maenhaut and Anouk Geurts (BEL) managed to win race 2 yet finish dead last in race 3.

In the past couple of years the double Olympic Champions have struggled to get on terms with the newer teams from Sweden and The Netherlands, but today's performance shows it's dangerous to underestimate Grael and Kunze. The prospect of winning a third successive gold at The Games is still very real. If they achieve it the Brazilians will become the most successful female sailors in Olympic history.

The most consistent team since Tokyo 2020, Odile van Aanholt and Annette Duetz (NED) won the first race of the session before slipping to 13th in the next, but regrouped for a solid 5th at the end of the afternoon. They now hold a 15 point advantage over the reigning World Champions from Sweden, Vilma Bobeck and Rebecca Netzler (SWE)

The Crown Slips

The Dutch didn't fare so well in the men's 49er however. Bart Lambriex and Floris van de Werken's hopes for a fourth-consecutive world title took a severe dent as the usually invincible team struggled in the wildly variable conditions.

While the World Champions slipped to fourth behind the Polish team, Mikolaj Staniul and Jakub Sztorch (POL), the biggest climbers of the day were the local Spanish favourites. Diego Botín and Florian Trittel (ESP) who followed a 7th place with two stunning race victories, results that launch the Spaniards up to second overall.

Two Botín Bullets

The 2022 European Champions have been sailing non-stop between their 49er and SailGP responsibilities but looked very in sync with each other and their boat as they moved up the fleet to claim both of their wins.

Despite their great day, Spain are still 18 points off the lead retained by the level-headed French duo, Erwan Fischer and Clément Pequin (FRA).

The experienced pair scored a 10, 2, 3 to move into a decisive lead with only four races to go plus the medal race. The coveted home Games berth is hotly contested by over a dozen French teams between the 49er and FX.

Hench French

Word around the boat park is that the French selectors will make their final decision after the World Championship to announce the team ahead of the Semaine Olympique Francaise regatta in the south of France at the end of April. So there's no better time for Fischer and Pequin to be hitting their peak.

The decision for the French bosses will not be an easy one, with Lucas Rual and Emile Amoros having recently won the 2023 European Championship and with Julien D'Ortoli with Noe Delpech having won four races at this regatta already, including race one today in Gold Fleet.

Something for the weekend

After Friday's fickle breeze and the mindbending challenges of such a random race course, the fleet is hoping the forecast of stronger breeze might make things more predictable. Higher wind could be the opportunity for Sweden to make up lost ground in the 49erFX.

While the leading French 49er team made sense of today's weird conditions, they are probably even stronger in the big breeze. Expect a big fight back from the Dutch who will not yield their crown easily.

Watch the Livestream broadcast on Saturday morning to witness the continuation of battle in Lanzarote.

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).

Full results available here.

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