Whatever wind was lacking on Thursday at the 2017 Para World Sailing Championships certainly wasn’t on Friday, as the breeze turned up several notches, pushing sailors into “survival” mode.
A strong 16 – 17 knot westerly breeze, gusting 28, swept across northern Germany and created some challenging conditions for sailors.
Despite the strong breeze the Open 2.4 Norlin OD, One Person Keelboat, fleet managed to complete two races.
In the opening race, it was Antonio Squizzato (ITA) who crossed the line first ahead of three-time Paralympian Bjørnar Erikstad (NOR) and Rio 2016 Paralympic silver medallist Matthew Bugg (AUS).
The second race was played out in even tougher conditions with a shifting wind increasing beyond 20 knots.
It was Australian, Bugg who took the victory with two-time Paralympic gold medallist Damien Seguin in second, followed by Squizzato in third, who moves up into the silver medal position as a result.
Afterwards, the smiling Italian said, “Today we had some very strong conditions and it was difficult to sail because the wind was up to 20 knots and it increased to 25/28.
“I had two lucky races. The wind shifted and I read it well. Here we have the best sailors in the world, so for me, it was a very good result.”
Recalling the second race a laughing Squizzato quips, “It was very difficult to survive! In that wind, I saw lots of the other boats were having problems on the downwind sections.”
When pressed on his chances moving into the final two days of competition he said, “Every day is different and so you never know. I hope to have more good races but you can never tell because this is a very competitive class.”
The conditions did, however, prove too much for the Men’s and Women’s Hansa 303, One Person Keelboats, who could only complete one of their three scheduled races.
In the Men’s division, it was Rio 2016 Paralympian Piotr Cichocki (POL) who clinched the win. Jens Kroker (GER), a three-time Paralympic medallist, came home in second while South Korea’s Chang Hoon Lee completed the top three.
Host nation favourite Kroker, summed up the day afterwards, “Today we had some interesting conditions. We had gusts up to, I would say, 22 knots and some choppy waves, so we were getting towards the limitations of this equipment but still, it was raceable conditions.”
Violeta del Reino (ESP) continues to impress in the Women’s Hansa 303, as she won the solitary race on day three. Ana Paula Gonçalves (BRA) took second, which sees her finish the day in second overall. Paralympic Development Program sailor, Cherrie Pinpin (PHI), took third.
Del Reino leads the fleet overall holding a narrow margin over Magali Moraines (FRA) due to countback. In the bronze medal position sits, Brazilian, Gonçalves.
Racing resumes on Saturday 24 June at 11:00 local time, all fleets with three races scheduled. Racing concludes on Sunday 25 June where three 2017 Para World Sailing Champions will be crowned.
By Ross Gale – World Sailing