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Toughing it out in the Trenches

It's Day Two of Skandia Sail for Gold and it was a tough day in the trenches for everyone, as race officers took the opportunity to catch up with the schedule. These are the hard yards, long days in tough conditions, and diametrically opposed to the glory moments of the medal race.

If yesterday was all about the subtleties of light air racing, today was all about fitness and technique in the building breeze and waves. Weymouth turned it on with sunshine and an afternoon breeze that topped out in excess of 25 knots on the outer courses.

Racing on the outer race course in the Finn was the current Olympic Champion Ben Ainslie (GBR). Ainslie answered some of those who doubted that he could win here in the breeze. Only Ivan Kliakovic Gaspic (CRO) ended up accumulating fewer points than Ainslie. Kliakovic Gaspic’s second and fifth place pulled him up to second overall and onto equal points with Britain’s triple Olympic gold medallist.
Ainslie will probably be disappointed with his seventh place in the day’s opening race, but as the breeze built though the afternoon to 20 knots, he will be much happier with a win in the second and final race of the day. Overnight leader Dan Slater (NZL) added another bullet and a tenth place to his scoreline, dropping him down to third. Giles Scott (GBR) pulled up two places to fourth, eight points off the leading duo.
Sharing the outer course with the Finns was the Star fleet. Four-time Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt – an old Laser rival of Ainslie’s - is now sailing Stars with his Brazilian team-mate Bruno Prada. They also prospered in the breeze, adding two second places to their bullet from yesterday. Five points behind are two-time Olympic medallist, Mateusz Kusznierewicz sailing with  Domini Zycki (POL). Another two-time Olympic medallist Fredrik Lööf (SWE), sailing with Max Salminen are 14 points behind the Brazilians in third. In a class that is stacked with medallists, current Olympic champion Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson started their climb up the leaderboard. A fourth and 11th place leaves them 12th overall after three races have been completed.
On the harbour course for the Paralympic teams, it was the 2.4mR’s turn to race in the morning, so they got a milder roughing up from the weather. It was the Netherlands Thierry Schmitter that took the day with two bullets to pull up to the top of the leaderboard, passing France’s Damien Seguin – Schmitter’s countryman, Rademaker remains in third. But it is Schmitter that is the current ISAF World Cup leader, and he was clearly loving the conditions, saying afterwards, ‘Sometimes it almost feels like you are in a washing machine. It makes you feel alive.’
Once the 2.4mRs were finished on the Paralympic course, the SKUDs and Sonars took over, but not for long in the case of the former, only managing one race before being sent ashore in the freshening conditions. The race was won by Skandia Team GBR’s Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell to creep one point closer to the overnight leaders, Beijing silver medallists, Australians Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch. The other Australian pair of Jamie Dunross and Rachael Cox dropped to third.
The Sonars had a better day of it, completing two races. The overnight tie between Australia’s Colin Harrison and Russell Boaden and America’s Rick Doerr and Brad Kendell was broken in favour of the latter. But both teams suffered a dramatic slide down the leaderboard to fifth and sixth respectively. The new leaders are Britain’s John Robertson and Hannah Stodel, who tied the day with Udo Hessels and Marcel van Veen – both pairs had a first and a second.
There was a surprise pairing at the top of the 470 women’s leaderboard. Saskia Clark thought her Olympic aspirations could be over for 2012 when her former partner, double gold medallist Sarah Ayton, retired from Olympic sailing in February. But after carefully assessing her options, she paired up with Hannah Mills. Mills is a talented young sailor who had excelled at youth level, but not found the right partner at senior level. The pairing started to shine in Hyeres in April, finishing third in the World Cup Event. They now lead the fleet at Skandia Sail for Gold, having won two out of their four races sailed. Danish pairing Henriette Koch and Lene Sommer are seven points adrift in second after four races sailed, with Giulia Conti and Giovanna Micol one point adrift in third.
The 470 men are split into two fleets, Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos (FRA) won in Hyeres, the last World Cup event they competed in, and with a consistent 6, 1, 4, 6 scoreline, are leading again in Weymouth. Sweden’s Anton Dahlberg and Sebastian Tling lie second with Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) one point behind in third.
The RS:X Women’s Fleet had a fantastic day’s racing in winds up to 20 knots. It belonged to Korzits Lee who placed two firsts. However Lee was closely followed in both races by Alabau Marina and her two seconds bumped her up to the overall lead after day two. The Men’s RS:X fleet were also out late, and New Zealand’s Jp Tobin and the Netherlands Dorian van Rijsselberge’s dominated their flights with two wins each. But a better performance yesterday puts Tobin ahead, with Taehoon splitting the two men after getting a couple of second places.
With Anna Tunncliffe (USA) now competing in the Match Racing, there is no reigning Olympic champion campaigning in the Laser Radial class. Finland’s Sari Multala has been crowned Laser Radial World Champion for the past two years, but now it’s all about dominating at the 2012 Olympic venue. She currently lies third after four races completed, but only three points adrift of Evi Van Acker (BEL) and one point adrift of Marit Bouwmeester (NED).
It was the Laser Men who were out late this evening, as the race officers worked their way through the sub-fleets that have to race on this course. They all sailed three races to try to catch up their schedule, and the overnight leaders all slid down the leaderboard. It’s now Austria’s Andreas Geritzer in front, chased by World Champion, Australian Tom Slingsby. The overnight leader, Netherland’s Rutger van Schaardenburg was back to third.
The 49er’s were catching air at times in Portland Harbour today, and it was the Italian pairing Pietro Sibello and Gianfranco Sibello that flew highest and fastest. They have finished first and second at the two World Cup events they have competed in this year and they are currently top of the 49er leadeboard from Britain’s John Pink and Rick Peacock. The Britain’s are engaged in their own internecine battle, with Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes in third.
The Match Racing completed the first group stage, giving us the Gold Group (Quarter Final) qualifiers. From Group A it was the Netherlands’ Mandy Mulder, Annemieke Bes and Merel Witteveen topping the group with six points equal to - but winning the tie-break with - second placed Sally Barkow, Elizabeth Kratizig-Burnham and Alana O'Reilly from the USA.
In Group B, Anne-claire Le Berre, Alice Ponsar and Myrtille Ponge (FRA) went through on six points, one win clear of Australia’s Nicky Souter, Jessica Eastwell and Lucinda Witty, qualifying in second. And from Group C it was Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vendemoer and Debbie Capozzi (USA) going through with a clean sheet, and Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor (GBR) joining them with five wins.
Racing continues at Skandia Sail for Gold until Saturday.
Quotes of the Day
Tom Slingsby (AUS) - Laser
World Champion
It seems every time I train in Weymouth its very light winds but every time I do a regatta it is very strong! I am happy just to get every type of condition thrown at me and for me it is about just trying to prepare for next year, if I qualify.
The goal is to never be beaten on these waters, I'm not sure how that will go this week, but I am working hard at that. I remember Paul (Goodison) did that in Beijing - he was undefeated there and everyone knew he was going to be hard to beat so that's the sort of thing I want to happen looking to next year. I want to show I am a contender here.
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR) – 470 Women
Class leaders
I think we are a bit unexpected to be leading at the moment. It’s only two days into the regatta so we have a long way to go. We have been sailing together for three months now and we are still on a huge learning curve. As long as we keep on learning and keep sailing well it will hopefully all come together for the end of the week. Our number one goal is to do as best as we can in the regatta and at the moment that’s medalling. The next few days are going to be tough and hard physically, I think the forecast is pretty big especially for tomorrow but hopefully we can just keep sailing well together.
Sari Maltala (FIN) - Laser Radial
World Champion and currently lying third overall
We have only done four races so we have a long way to go during this event but I am glad I have been able to keep the scores quite low. We did three races today which is more than we normally do so it was a pretty big day for us. You have to keep strong and just keep fighting, that’s what everyone is doing.
It wasn’t too windy for us today and the conditions were very sailable. There were a few capsizes but it felt it was pretty good conditions out there and it made for some great racing.
This is the venue we have to perform at. I have been doing a lot of training here at Weymouth and regatta’s such as Skandia Sail for Gold are the best way to test yourself at a venue. This is going to be a great venue for the Games.
Marit Bouwmeester (NED) – Laser Radial
Second overall
It went all right today. There was not a lot of wind during the first two races. It was very tricky under the Portland Bill hill. So I was happy with the result – two firsts. But I was not too happy with the third race when the wind increased. I did not get enough out of that race. I did not manage to get my boat going fast over the waves. The Brits have obviously trained a lot here. Young did well. She also knew where to go. Tomorrow another day, looking forward to it.
Thierry Schmitter (NED) – 2.4mR
2.4M World Champion and currently leading
I am on equal points with Damien (Seguin) I believe. It is very close and very exciting again. He is a formidable opponent, especially in the windy conditions. I am glad he is here to compete against, but I think I am a bit faster in these conditions.
I really like the windy conditions. Lots of cold water in your face, you have to work really hard. Sometimes it almost feels like you are in a washing machine. It makes you feel alive. But I have also trained a lot in the lighter stuff. As you need to be really all-round if you want to win in Weymouth. One never knows what to expect here.
Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) - Women’s Match Racing
Gold Group Qualifier, Laser Radial Gold Medal in 2008
We had a great day again today. We had three races and came away with three wins to win our Group C round. Our last race was against the Brits (Lucy Macgregor). They controlled us for the first minute or so of the pre-start, but then we managed to get control of them after that. We led them into the start a few seconds late, and matched their tack off the line. We had great speed and were able to pin them to the layline.
Downwind, they closed the gap at the leeward mark, but we pulled ahead again up the next beat and held our lead to the finish. The conditions were windy so boat control and speed were important. Now we advance to the Gold Round. The team did a great job in the bigger breeze making great calls all around the course. The conditions in Weymouth are great. It’s chilly when the wind blows, but the wind is fantastic. The facilities are great and make training and racing very good.
Matthew Belcher (AUS) - 470
470 sailor now sailing with Olympic Champion Malcolm Page currently lying sixth
The racing is pretty difficult here. We are a long way out of the harbour- I think the furthest out we race from of all the World Cup events so it is a different kind of racing. It’s a tough fleet and we are just going out there and trying our best.
All of the World Cup events are selection events for us, so we have come to Weymouth straight from the Delta Lloyd Regatta. All the events are important but I think mentally this one has a bit more significance as it is the Olympic venue.
The conditions are completely different out there to yesterday but we have come to expect that from Weymouth – the racing here for the Olympics is going to be a lot better than Qingdao that’s for sure! You have to be an all round sailor and be able to cope with different conditions, the focus is always on getting the boat to go as fast as you can, no matter what the conditions are.
Ben Ainslie (GBR) Finn
Current Finn Olympic Champion and leading the class
The first race was a bit strange, on the first beat I thought the right side of the course had the best conditions but I didn’t read it very well and ended up well behind the leaders. I started to catch up from there and finished strong to get seventh place. In the second race the wind came up a bit more which made it difficult to read the best side of the course to take. Luckily I took the best side and at the first mark I was third and I then I slowly pulled through to win the race.
Today was hard work physically. The winds strong, the waves choppy and the races long, you’re out there for six hours and racing for three so it’s all about saving yourself for the right moment and getting the crucial decisions right.
The GB sailors are all doing well with five of us currently in the top ten, Giles (Giles Scott), Mark (Mark Andrews) and Millsey (Andrew Mills) are all sailing well and I’m sure Ed Wright is going to start showing form this week as these are his sort of conditions. Overall I’m happy with my form so far but there’s always room for improvement.
Provisional Results
Day 2: Tuesday 7h June
49er                             Sailed: 5
1st  ITA 3             SIBELLO Pietro / SIBELLO Gianfranco  18pts
2nd GBR 8           PINK John / PEACOCK Richard              23pts
3rd  GBR 7           MORRISON Stevie / RHODES Ben         52pts
470 WOMEN             Sailed: 4
1st  GBR 847       MILLS Hannah / CLARK  Saskia             28pts
2nd  DEN 143       KOCH Henniette / SOMMER Lene          35pts
3rd   ITA 23           CONTI Giulia / MICOL Giovanna              36pts
470 MEN                    Sailed: 4
1st    FRA 44          PIERRE Leboucher / VINCENT Garos    17pts
2nd   SWE 346       DAHLBERG Anton / OSTLING Sebastian  20pts
3rd    CRO 83          FANTELA Sime / MARENIC Igor 21pts
FINN                          Sailed: 3
1st   GBR 3            AINSLIE Ben  10pts
2nd  CRO 524       KLJAKOVIC GASPIC Ivan 10pts
3rd   NZL 1             SLATER Dan 12pts  
LASER                      Sailed: 4
1st   AUT           GERITZER Andreas 15pt
2nd  AUS           SLINGSBY Tom 15pts
3rd   NED           VAN SCHAARDENBURG  15pts
LASER RADIAL     Sailed: 4
1st        BEL 197514   VAN ACKER Evi 12pts
2nd       NED 200444   BOUWMEESTER Marit 14pts
3rd        FIN 199059    MULTALA Sari 15pts
STAR                         Sailed: 3
1st        BRA 8255       SCHEIDT Robert / PRADA Bruno  5pts
2nd        POL 8417       KUSZNIEREWICZ Mateusz / ZYCKI Dominik 10pts
3rd        SWE 8450       LOOF Fredrik / SALMINEN Max 19pts
SKUD 18                    Sailed: 3
1st        AUS 47           FITZGIBBON Daniel / TESCH Liesl  5pts
2nd       GBR 45           RICKMAN Alexandra / BIRRELL Niki  7pts
3rd        AUS 52           DUNROSS Jamie / COX Rachael 9pts
SONAR                      Sailed: 3
1st        GBR 748         ROBERTSON John / STODEL Hannah / THOMAS Steve            7pts
2nd        NED 688         HESSELS Udo / VAN VEEN Marcel/ ROSSEB Mischa     12pts
3rd        NOR 1            WANG-HANSEN Aleksander / KRISTIANSEN Per Eugen / SOLBERG                                      Marie   12pts
2.4mR                         Sailed: 4
1st       NED 12           SCHMITTER Thierry 10pts
2nd      FRA 13           SEGUIN Damien 10pts
3rd       NED 11           RADEMAKER Andre 16pts
RS:X MEN                Sailed: 2
1st        NZL 151         TOBIN JP 10pts
2nd        KOR 71         LEE Taehoon 13pts
3rd        NED 8            VAN RIJSSELBERGE Dorian 14pts
RS:X WOMEN         Sailed: 4
1st        ESP 5            ALBAU Marina 8pts
2nd       ESP 1            MANCHON Blanca 13pts
2rd        FRA 4            CHARLINE Picon 15pts
MATCH RACE - Gold Group Qualifiers
Group A
Mulder / Bes / Witteveen  NED  6-1
Barkow / Kratizig-Burnham / O’Reilly  USA  6-1
Group B
Le Berre / Ponsar / Ponge  FRA  6-1
Souter / Curtis / Price  AUS  5-2
Group C
Tunnicliffe / Vandemoer / Capozzi  USA  7-0
Macgregor / Lush / Macgregor  GBR  5-2


7/6/2011 20:44

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