Wednesday, August 26, 2009

470 Worlds take on a new dimension

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Photos by Jürg Kaufmann
by: Sailing Intelligence
Off Rungsted, Denmark racing at the 470 Worlds, held by the Royal Danish Yacht Club, today took on a very different perspective. It was the first day the Class were split into gold, silver and bronze division but crucially the wind had veered by around 90 degrees, into the west. Gone was the stable southerly of the first three days of the regatta, replaced by a highly unstable shifty, patchy offshore breeze to challenge the 304 sailors from 29 countries competing.
With the race course having shifted, counter-current up the beat was not an issue today, but this, combined with some start of Men’s Gold fleet racing over-enthusiasm, saw an impressive 10 boats - one third of the fleet - disqualified under black flag starting orders in their first race. This race only successfully got away on its fifth attempt. Those black flagged included several top names – the third placed Swiss, Matias Bühler and Felix Steiger, Sailing World Cup leaders from the US, Stuart McNay and Graham Biehl, and Israeli 470 veterans, Gidi Kliger and Udi Gal. A particular blow to Skandia Team GBR was double Olympic silver medallist Nick Rogers and his new crew Pom Green, being black flagged too, following on from double World Champions Nic Asher and Elliot Willis’ OCS yesterday. Asher and Willis were clear today, but suffered a broken spinnaker halyard at the end of the first race and ended the day a lowly 16th.

Many boats at the back of the Men’s gold fleet came out the winners, partly due to the OCSes, but it was also the challenging conditions. Second going into today Austrian, Mattias Schmid put it: “The gold fleet is much much harder than the qualification, but also the wind was really unpredictable with much much bigger shifts. Before it was quite clear to us what we wanted to do, we did it and we were right. Today it was not so clear.”

According to Schmid, this struck hardest at the start of the first race. “All the field wanted to go left. We wanted to go left, but in the end the right was SO much better. They weren’t a little in front, they were like half a mile in front and we lost contact and there was no way back. It was really really extreme. But the good people can make a medium result out of a bad position. Today we very often had a very bad position and we got out of it.” Schmid was therefore okay with his and crewman Florian Reichstaedter’s pair of 17th finishes that have dropped them to ninth overall. - read more