Just one race was completed in the Men's and Women's fleets as the 470 World Championships got underway in Barcelona, Spain.
In the 95-boat Men's 470 fleet Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page, Sofian Bouvet and Vincent Guillarn (FRA) and compatriots Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos lead the way in the with a race win each in the three way split fleet.
And in the Women's fleet it is a French one two with Ingrid Petitjean and Nadege Douroux (FRA) and Camille Lecointre and Matilde Geron (FRA) on top.
Lecointre and Geron managed to secure the French Women's 470 spot for the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition ahead of Petitjean and Douroux but after the opening day the unsuccessful duo have proved that it was no easy decision when selecting the French team.
Petitjean said, "We had a good start and were leading the first half of the first leg, but we were third at the first mark. So then we didn't take any risks, because third in the opening race is good enough. We had some good speed on the last downwind and got to first at the finish. The first race is like any race, but we are not the kind to start a series well, as normally we start average and build, so we are happy to win. The goal now is to sail as well for the rest of the regatta."
The two Canadian 470 Women teams competing both have the same mission, qualify Canada to the Olympic Games and secure their selection. Between them, it was advantage Dana Archibald and Karen Dexter with a ninth place finish in the yellow fleet, over Hannah Meers and Erin Flanagan with a 20th in the blue fleet. Archibald explained, "Basically we are trying to keep it simple, good start, stay clean and not get psyched out by the whole thing. There is a lot of pressure on a lot of teams and we are trying to use support from home for encouragement, rather than letting the pressure get in our heads and mess up our game plan."
Over in the Men's fleet there are similar fights on to secure Olympic spots. Greece's Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis successfully qualified Greece to the Olympic Games at the 2011 ISAF Worlds, but the 2012 470 Worlds will be the ultimate decider as to which Greek 470 team takes the nation slot. Mantis and Kagialis are currently World #2, and are facing off against the #7 world ranked team of Panagiotis Kambouridis and Efstathios Papadopoulos. A hard pill to swallow, despite both being amongst the top ten teams in the world, only the team that finishes ahead in Barcelona will go to the Olympics.
Kagialis commented, "It was a very good day, pretty light winds. We had a bad start, but we gave it our best because we must and we finished 2nd. It was a nice start to the Championship and we must keep going and see what happens. It was pretty light winds, a lot of good boats with good speed and it was very difficult today."
Their adversaries finished 8th overall in the red fleet, but there is a long way to go yet and another 11 races scheduled before Saturday's Medal Race.
It was business as usual for Belcher and Page who got their campaign started with a race win. The duo are gunning for their third consecutive World Championship, "It's amazing to be in a position to be going for our hat trick," said Page. "A World Championship is always the most important regatta for us in any year except in this Olympic year, for obvious reasons.
"So with this in mind we are just concentrating on our preparation towards the games and using every event to hone our skills and measure against the best 470 sailors in the world. We are obviously very happy with our preparations and seem to be on a roll at the moment, but 470 sailors are very good, the competition is very fierce across so many nations that you can never expect any certain results."
Racing is scheduled to get underway at 12:00 hours today, with the same fleet allocations. The 470 Women will race on course area alpha and the 470 men on course area bravo. The Race Committee is aiming to hold three races for each fleet, which they are hopeful of achieving as the sea breeze of 9-12 knots should be in around 13:00 hours and building from thereon.
470 Worlds Website