Wednesday 6 August 2014 – The two years to go until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games milestone was celebrated at the Aquece Rio – International Sailing Regatta 2014 as the 324 sailors from 34 nations experienced a mixed bag of conditions in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
As Rio prepares to host the world’s best athletes the spotlight is firmly on sailing amongst the national press with widespread coverage on television, on radio, in newspapers and online.
The third day of racing at Aquece Rio saw a range of conditions with wind and waves on the outside courses and tricky breeze inside Guanabara Bay.
A 15 knot south westerly breeze worked its way across the five race areas with outside courses Copacabana and Niteroi experiencing a stable breeze and wild waves. Inside Guanabara Bay was a different story with an up and down breeze that tested the sailors across Pão de Açucar, Ponte and Escola Naval.
Anne Haeger and Briana Provancha (USA) revelled in the big waves on the Copacabana race course taking a second and double bullets.
“It was a lot of fun, ” said Haeger. “We were outside and got to play in the big waves. Got a little seasick at the end but you’ve got to work through it I guess but it was a really fun day.”
The waves challenged the sailors but when it comes to the finest female sailors in the world, they’ve done their homework, “We are really fortunate to have access to the Gulf Stream in Miami and we’ve gone out there and struggled out there in the waves a little bit. I’ve dumped my crew Briana out in the waves a couple of times, ” joked Haeger. “I wouldn’t say we’re used to it because you never are but we’ve definitely had some good training.”
The Women’s 470 fleet will mix up racing on the Copacabana, Escola Naval and Niteroi courses throughout the week and Haeger can take good knowledge away from the opening bout on Copacabana, “First of all the name is awesome, ” smiled Haeger, “But a big takeaway is mastering the waves from behind on both tacks, that was crucial and knowing when to pump and knowing when to hold high. Mode transitions were really crucial today.”
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR) took the first race victory of the day and sit second overall following a 3-7. ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (NZL) are third overall, tied with the Brits on four points.
Like the American Women’s 470 sailors, Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) also recorded double bullets and a second.
Sharing the Copacabana race course with the Women’s fleet, the Men’s 470 began racing first of all in the large waves and it was the World #1 Australians who enjoyed it the most.
“It was great for us with quite big waves and probably some of the biggest waves we’ve raced in, ”exclaimed Belcher. “It was fantastic out there. The water’s really clean and there were big waves and for our class you have to be very dynamic to move the boat forward and it was just enjoyable conditions out there.”
Strength in depth is present throughout the 23-boat fleet with those racing in Rio firmly set on Olympic glory in two years’ time and Belcher was quick to recognise this fact, “Collectively we do a lot of the events together and we race each other a lot and it’s no surprise to see all the main guys here. We are missing the Argentineans but it’s a great opportunity to focus on the conditions and get a better understanding of what we can expect in a couple of years.”
Croatia’s Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic are second whilst Race 2 victors Luke Patience and Elliot Willis (GBR) sit in third.
Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen got acclimatised to the Rio 2016 Olympic venue fairly swiftly and took three victories from four 49er races.
The 49er fleet sailed three races in the morning on the Pão de Açucar course before returning ashore to allow the 49erFX fleet to compete. They took to the Escola Naval course in the afternoon to complete their programme.
Outteridge and Jensen are seven points clear of Austria’a Niko Delle Karth and Nikolaus Resch and were pleased with how things went, “We’re pretty happy with our day and it’s always nice to win the first race of regatta so we’ll see how it unfolds from here.
“There’s a huge amount of strength here. The Kiwis were number one and two and Dylan [Fletcher] and Alain [Sign GBR] were fourth and we were fifth at the last Worlds so basically you’ve got the top nations here. There are a few countries missing like Denmark and one German instead of two. It’s a good fleet with 19 boats so it’s just like an Olympic sized fleet.”
Delle Karth and Resch took the day’s other bullet to sit second whilst Julien D’Ortoli and Noé Delpech (FRA) sit third.
Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) used their local knowledge to their advantage in the 49erFX posting a 2-2-1-1 scoreline.
The Brazilians are based in Rio and read the conditions to perfection on the Pão de Açucar race area. After racing Kunze said, “Today was pretty good. A cold front came this morning so the conditions were pretty shifty but we managed all the races pretty well and we’re really happy about that. Hopefullytomorrow we’ll have more wind.
“We train here in Guanabara Bay but this was not a typical condition because of the cold front. We’re not too used to it.”
With 15-boats in the fleet the Brazilians are enjoying the company. Kunze concluded, “For us it’s really nice because otherwise we’d be here sailing and training alone. It’s a training regatta and it’s really nice to have all the girls here.”
2013 49erFX World Champions Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) came out strong with double bullets from the first two races but faded as the day went on, picking up a 7-4. However for the Kiwis it’s not all about the performance, “Coming to Rio for the first time we’ve been trying to learn as much as we can from the venue, ” explained Meech. “So far it’s been pretty tricky as most days have been quite different.
“It was quite puffy and really up and down and we had to sail on a lifted tack and try to piece together a nice beat. For the first couple we managed to do that but on the other two we got a bit lost.”
Olivia Price and Eliza Solly (AUS) and Lisa Ericson and Hanna Klinga (SWE) are tied on 11 points in third and fourth place.
After five Women’s RS:X races Charline Picon (FRA) has opened up a 13 point lead in the 22 boat fleet. From three races on the third day the French racer added another bullet, a discarded fifth and a third to leave her in an excellent position.
Behind the runaway French racer just six points separates second to sixth place with tight racing evident on Escola Naval where the fleet raced.
Dorian Van Rijsselberge (NED) and Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) are locked on nine points in the 28-boat Men’s RS:X fleet. Neither racer took a bullet on the third day but they demonstrated that consistent racing pays off.
Six qualification races remain ahead of the Men’s and Women’s RS:X Medal Races so there is plenty left to play for.
Giles Scott (GBR) moved into pole position in the Finn fleet following a fifth, a race win and a second. The British sailor has a four point advantage over overnight leader Jorge Zarif (BRA) who discards a 14th and counts two fifth places from three races on Ponte.
New Zealand’s Josh Junior had a strong day on the water and took the third race victory and as a result climbs up to third overall.
Darren Bundock and Nina Curtis (AUS) hold the lead in the 18-boat Nacra 17 fleet after double bullets and a seventh. Racing on the Ponte race area, the Australians were in total control and lead Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA) who took the third bullet of the day.
Franck Cammas and Sophie de Turckheim (FRA) are third but Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders (NZL) and Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond (GBR) sit a point behind the French crew.
Tom Burton (AUS) was on top form on the Niteroi course. Racing in big waves and a consistent breeze the Australian posted a 2-2-1 scoreline. He leads on three points with Nick Thompson (GBR), who took the second race victory, behind the Aussie on seven points. Rutger van Schaardenburg (NED) was victorious in the opening race of the day and is fourth overall, a point behind third place sailor Jesper Stalheim (SWE).
A Laser Radial report will be available to view here in due course.
Racing is scheduled to commence at 12:00 local time on 6 August. The 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 have four races scheduled whilst the remaining fleets will sail three.
Media coverage and results from the Aquece Rio will be delivered by the Rio 2016 team and ISAF throughwww.aquecerio.com/en/competicoes.php and http://www.sailing.org/2014-test-event.php
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