Date: Friday 18 October 2013 – The action will heat up on the final day of ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao with equations and what ifs running through sailors heads after an intriguing penultimate day of racing in Qingdao, China.
Light winds and a strong current made racing a tricky affair for the six classes sailing at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition venue.
The 470 and RS:X fleets enjoyed three races apiece and the Laser and Laser Radial two as the Medal Race spots were decided in a 5-6 knot breeze with an average current of 1.5 knots.
Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente (ARG) go into Saturday’s Medal Race with a four point lead over Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO).
Both teams have fought hard against each other over the ten race series with it set to boil into the Medal Race.
Heading into the last race of the day the separation was at one point but after starting Race 10 well the Argentineans led from start to finish whilst the Croatians came through in sixth.
On the sixth, the Croatians worst result of the week, Fantela said, “We took some risks in the last race because we wanted to pass the Argentineans. They had a good shift at the start so they were immediately at the top of the fleet. It didn’t pay off so now we are four points off them going into the Medal Race.”
With a strong day Calabrese was happy, “We had a 1-2-1 which gives us the chance of winning tomorrow. That’s what we were hoping for and we did it, so it’s pretty good.”
The Medal Race will define the Men’s 470 victors and both crews know exactly what they have to do to take gold and Fantela is looking forward to getting on with it, “Things are okay and I can’t wait to race and to see what happens.”
Meanwhile Calabrese is wary of the threat Fantela and Marenic pose, “Being so close we have to keep an eye on them. To win the regatta we need to have only one boat between them and us so it’s not that simple. We’ll try to stay close and not risk much.”
Paul Snow Hansen and Dan Wilcox (NZL) took third place from Hao Lan and Chao Wang (CHN) and are seven points clear of the Chinese team going into the final day.
China’s Hui Feng and Lizhu Huang bossed the Women’s 470 on the penultimate day taking three race wins. The pair have pulled within six points of early front runners Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie (NZL) who finished with a discarded sixth and two seconds.
Although they suffered their first defeats of the week the pair weren’t too deflated, “It was a bit tricky out there, ” said Powrie. “Quite soft but still a lot of shifts and puffs coming through and then the current added another element to it. The fleet was a bit up and down and a tricky day to be consistent but we came away with a shocker and two seconds so we’re happy with that.”
Qian Fu and Liyun Liu (CHN) and Nan Shanghai and Xue Li (CHN) are tied in third on 27 points.
Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) took gold with a day to spare after notching up two penultimate day race wins.
The Croatians light frame has brought him great success in the light winds and has won five of ten races to head into the Medal Race with an unassailable 25 point lead over Pavlos Kontides (CYP).
After racing Stipanovic said, “I always prefer sailing in the light wind and not so much the strong. I feel more comfortable in the boat and usually I’m sailing better. I lost some weight for this regatta so I’m light and fast.
“The Medal Race is any other race, I will try to start well and win the race.”
The heat is on for the remaining podium spots as ten points separates Kontides in second and Kacper Zieminski (POL) in sixth.
Dongshuang Zhang (CHN) held her six point lead in the Laser Radial matching Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR) with a fourth and a first.
Zhang has won six races in the week but hasn’t shown consistency to run away with the lead enabling Drozdovskaya to remain on her heals.
“Tomorrow I will do my best, ” said Zhang. “I will watch the competitors behind me and I will try to be the champion.”
Both sailors are guaranteed first and second, but the order will be decided on the final day.
Nine points separate third to eighth making for a tantalisingly close finale in the Laser Radial.
Shahar Zubari (ISR) goes into the Men’s RS:X Medal Race with an 18 point lead over World #2 Ricardo Santos (BRA).
Zubari has been on top form in Qingdao, demonstrating excellence in both the big breeze and the light winds and has won six out of 11 races throughout the week.
With such a big lead the Israeli is leaving no room for complacency on the final day, “My approach is like any other day, go there have fun, enjoy and try and do my best.”
Hong Kong’s Michael Cheng suffered in the light air to drop from second to third with his first double figure finishes. Cheng won silver at the inaugural Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games and is only in his first year of senior RS:X racing but has impressed the likes of Zubari, “I spoke with him before the race and he is doing really smart things, ” added the Israeli. “You can really see that he still has some lack of experience but it takes time.
“This is the difference between the youth and the senior fleet but I can see that he has the talent, he is doing good stuff and has the tactics.”
Cheng has the opportunity to reach his first ISAF Sailing World Cup podium on the last day of racing with 14 points separating him and China’s Yikai Huang in fourth.
Although he suffered with a bad day Cheng was still upbeat after racing, “This week has been a great week. We’ve had every condition and it’s been fair for everybody. They are all really good and it’s really hard to fight with those guys [Zubari and Santos] because they’re all so experienced. I’ve just been doing my best without the pressure.
“It would be great to finish on the podium. This is my fourth World Cup and every World Cup I’ve done well and every race I’ve improved. This time I’ve just felt really good and well prepared.”
Maayan Davidovich (ISR) clawed back two points from overnight leader Peina Chen (CHN) in the Women’s RS:X.
Chen has raced consistently throughout the week and held firm atop of the leader board from the outset. Chen leads on 28 points compared to Davidovich’s 35 points and the Israeli will have her work cut out on the final day to overthrow the Chinese sailor.
Three points behind Davidovich in the final podium spot is Jiahui Wu (CHN) with plenty of daylight between Qiaoshan Weng (CHN) in fourth.
Medal Races commence at 11:00 local time with the Women’s 470 up first followed by the Men’s 470 at 11:40, Laser Radial at 12:20, Laser at 13:00, Women’s RS:X at 13:40 and Men’s RS:X.
Live Tracking of all the races will be available.
Full results from ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao are available here: http://www.sailing.org/worldcup/results/index.php