Winding into the final days of the Championship, it is still all open at the top. Whilst Hannah SWETT, Joan TOUCHETTE and Melissa PURDY have consolidated their lead, there is still a long way to determine the World Champions.
Meanwhile the defending World Champion, Monica AZON (ESP) with crew Graciela PISONERO and Marina SANCHEZ have not managed to pull themselves out of the pack, and are wallowing down in 18. This will not be of too much concern to the host nation, as Spain qualified last year, but Monica would no doubt like to demonstrate her ability over the other two Spanish Ynglings, who whilst placed lower in the placings will be keen to prove their worth and delay selection of the Spanish representatives to the last.
The opening race 7 saw everyone heading offshore on the first leg, with Ewa JODLOWSKA, Katarzyna KANIA and Katarzyna RUDAWSKA (POL) and the German crew helmed by Ulrike SCHUEMANN having the best starts. However, despite this good opener, the Polish crew could not maintain their advantage as they headed offshore into the less favourable breeze.
By the first windward mark it was 2000 Gold Medallist in the Europe Class, Shirley ROBETSON (GBR), Sarah WEBB and Sarah AYTON who led the fleet, followed by the Bermudan match racer Paula LEWIN, with Ulrike not far behind.
There was much jostling for positions over this first lap and by the fleet's second appearance at the windward mark it was all change with a huge spread across the fleet, and a variance of six minutes between the first and last boats rounding.
Going into the final leg and finish, Shirley and crew managed to hold her lead to take the gun and her best result to date, followed by Ulrike SCHUEMANN. By this stage, the spread had increased significantly. Whilst the first 10 were fairly close, there was a considerable gap before the next bunch of ten, another gap and then the main pack, with a further two minute gap before the final boats followed.
Another British crew, helmed by Cathy FOSTER, with Jane NORRIS and Annie LUSH also took their best result of the Championship so far, with a 3 knocking them up into tenth overall. For Cathy this is a make or break regatta, with the British selectors certain to select Shirley ROBERTSON to represent Great Britain in Athens if she places top 3. If the results are out of that scenario, then it will be in the hands of the selectors as to how they proceed.
When asked whether or not they preferred the stronger breeze, Cathy commented, "Light or heavy, it really makes no difference to us, we are as happy in the light stuff as we are in the stronger winds."
Cathy and crew have recently taken acquisition of a new boat, which so far is proving its worth as noted by Jane NORRIS (GBR), "We've had our new boat since May so have had a bit of time it it but it's awesome, really fast."
Race 8 was considerably different in form, with the fleet sticking together throughout. However, a big jam at the windward mark saw Hannah SWETT (USA), Joan TOUCHETTE and Melissa PURDY pull clear, chased by Kristin WAGNER (GER), Anna HOELL and Veronika LOCHBRUNNER. Whilst Hannah was able to hold this position, Kristin lost out and was unable to maintain her advantage.
Hannah went on to steadily increase her lead, take the gun, and retain her first overall going into the penultimate day, with Ulrike SCHUEMANN (GER) in second and Kristin WAGNER (GER) third.
Commenting on her result at the post-race press conference, Hannah concluded, "Well we got lucky with the first right hand shift but the most important thing we managed to do was not to lose it. All we had to do was play the shifts and keep ahead of the others."
On whether or not she can maintain her lead, "We have three races to go but I think we can do it, we will certainly try very hard. There are some pretty good sailors here and the scores are close so I think the focus is on about 15 people because the competition is so good."
All the competitors have fallen foul of conditions that whilst producing decent winds, have proved patchy, "In these conditions if you can actually work up the fleet then it's a good day."
Supporting the concept of the Championship, Hannah commented, "It's excellent that all the classes are here, it's nice, as we sail in a fleet of ladies, to have some men and boys here to break up the year!"
This was similar feedback to that from Cathy FOSTER (GBR) this morning, "I think for the size of the regatta that the whole thing is running incredibly smoothly."
Despite a bad start to the regatta Kristin WAGNER (GER) and crew now sit in third overall, after an 8, 3 today, "We are very happy with our results today, it's very close at the top and if we can keep scoring in the top ten we'll be very happy with that, it will make things more stable in the conditions."
Keelboat Men - Star - Wrap-Up After 6 Races
Today's race 6 has determined the cut that go through to the respective Gold and Silver groups for the final round. The leading crews have continued to put in strong performances, giving no let up, aside from Francesco BRUNI (ITA) and Guido VIGNA who were a little too keen and scored an OCS, dropping them down to eighth overall.
Defending World Champions, Iain PERCY and Steve MITCHELL continue to exert their dominance over the fleet with another bullet, but they are being chased very closely by Xavier ROHART (FRA) and Pascal RAMBEAU and Fredrik LOOF (SWE) and Anders EKSTROM. Interestingly all three are previous Finn sailors. Having been bumped out of the top three, Freddy will be pleased to be back in third overall after a 2 in Race 5.
However, it is very early in this fleet, which is renowned for all change until the end, and there are many top crews who are settling into the rhythm and moving on and up.
Paul CAYARD (USA) and Phil TRINTER have pulled up two places to tenth overall, whilst Torben GRAEL (BRA) and Marcelo FERREIRA are making a similar ascent. Torben is unfortunately counting two bad results, and OCS in race 3 followed by a 17 in race 4, but can only discard one. Nevertheless, he is steadily climbing and has moved from 40, to 18, to 15 overall.
Paul CAYARD (USA) © ISAF
Maxwell TREACY (IRL) and Anthony SHANKS continue to play a very consistent series, with a top 5 scoreline to sit in further overall.
Back up at the top for Colin BEASHEL (AUS) and David GILES who took a fourth today. Dismasted during Tuesday's racing, they have got their work cut-out to keep top placings and their hopes of Olympic Qualification from the 2003 Worlds alive. But are posting results that would be expected of such a pair. They have made the grade and will sail in the Gold fleet and, if they continue their form should be able to peg their way up to claim one of the seven Olympic Qualification places.
A good result for former Soling sailor and Bronze Medallist at the 2000 Olympic Regatta, Roy HEINER (NED) and Han BERGSMA, with a third. However, it was too little too late, as having posted DNC in the first three races, despite their 5, 13, 3 in the following three races, it was not enough to make up the points. They have finished outside the cut, and will sail the rest of the series in the Silver fleet. All is not over for the Netherlands and Olympic Qualification, as there are sufficient Dutch crews who have made the grade and are likely to qualify their country.
ISAF caught up with Paul CAYARD (USA) relaxing in the athlete's lounge before racing today, where he gave amongst other thoughts, his feedback on the concept of the combined World Championship, "With the classes together it's a big festival of sailing, and from that standpoint it's good. It's a big strain on local resources as far as space on the race areas and race courses, and also the land facilities. I would say that these guys on the land side have enough space and have sorted it out pretty well. For the keelboats it was a little tough in the beginning with just two cranes , but now we are on the water it's OK, and there seems to be enough space on the race courses. For some of us though it's a long sail in. Having this kind of event is very good for the sport, maybe not every year but once every four, a couple of years before the Olympics."
On the Format of the Star Racing, "I like the format. The days of sailing one race per day, that's old school. Sailing is a very time consuming sport to get ready for. It's not like tennis where you just walk out to the court. We have to amorise the set up time with 2 or three races per day - it's more fun for everybody."
On how that changes the attitude towards the kit in the Stars, "It's a huge deal. If you break something in this kind of racing you have to be prepared and have spares. It gives a little premium to the richer teams, those who have coach boats and loads of spares, a couple of guys here are even taking spare masts out." To change a mast on the water, "That would be tough, very tough in this breeze."
At the recent Athens Regatta 2003, Paul referred to his return to the Olympic arena similar to a mid-life crisis, the only difference being most men would buy a Harley Davidson. "I like the racing, it's competitive, fun and simple. One crew - it's as uncomplicated as they come, so the focus is on the sailing and the racing."
On hosting the forthcoming ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards, "I'm looking forward to it, it's an honour to be asked and I think it'll be a great event."
With no break for the Star fleet, as a result of the lost opening day of racing, two races are scheduled each of Friday and Saturday, with the final race on Sunday.
Star Action © ISAF
Finn Class - Wrap-Up After 4 Races
The second day of the Finn was proof of the depth of the class, with two more race winners, more upsets and several new faces at the front of the fleet.
In a healthy breeze between 12 and 15 knots, local favourite Rafael TRUJILLO (ESP) led throughout to win the first race. Andrew SIMPSON (GBR) managed the same feat in the second race of the day with a good lead on the following pack.
Racing on the same course as the Ynglings, the Finns sailed on a shorter than usual outer trapezoid course with 3 outer loops and an offwind finish.
Race three was welcomed with a cloudless sky, brilliant sunshine and a 15 knot breeze greeting competitors for the third championship race. After a two hour delay while the race committee set, shifted and reset the course, racing finally started at 13:55 after one general recall. The pin end was favoured and as far away from his favourite committee boat starting position as he could be was Emilios PAPATHANSAIOU (GRE) who won the start followed by Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) and Andrew SIMPSON (GBR). The other favourites were positioned further up the line.
The majority of the fleet headed for the favoured left hand side of the course, while a small bunch headed to the right. Most of the boats went left on the second beat as well and at the top mark Rafael Trujillo led from Stefan de VRIES (NED), Sander WILLEMS (NED), Kristian ADERMAN (SWE) and Richard CLARKE (CAN). Hoards of boats overstood the windward mark, causing great problems for those rounding it and setting off on the run. In particular class president Philippe Rogge (BEL) who had to negotiate a long stream of reaching starboard tackers while doing turns for touching the mark. Favourites Ben AINSLIE, Mateusz KUSZNIEREWIZ and Sebasien GODEFROID were all buried in the chasing pack.
Rafael extended his lead on the final legs to win by a comfortable margin. At the final windward mark he was followed by a group of three - Emilios PAPATHANSIOU (GRE), Waclaw SZUKIEL (POL) and Kristian ADERMAN. However at the finish Karlo KURET (CRO) had worked his way up to third and Waclaw had slipped down to 10th. Ben Ainslie as usual was working his way up the fleet making a late charge and finished in seventh place behind Jonas and Jaap ZIELHUIS (NED). It was a good race for the Dutch team with three boats inside the top 12.
Going into the start of today's second race, it was almost a copy of the first, with Emilios again winning the pin end start from Gaszton PAL (HUN) and Rafael TRUJILLO (ESP). Most of the favourites were down the pin end or just slightly up the line. Initially, Emilios led the fleet to the left but most tacked within 2-300 metres to cross to the right. By this time the right was looking better and round the first mark Andrew Simpson (GBR) emerged with a good lead ahead of Guillaume Florent (FRA), Rafael TRUJILLO, Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN), Emilios and Ismael BRUNO (FRA).
The sailing conditions were near perfect, with 15 knots of breeze and good surfing waves downwind. Andrew held onto and extended his lead on the next round and led a bunch of five boats that had broken away from the pack. Jonas, Emilios, Guillaume and Rafael dutifully followed Andrew round the course to the finish. As on previous beats virtually the whole fleet had pegged left and also as per usual a large majority, including some who should know better, ended up cracking off to lay the windward mark.
Overnight, positions have changed so that Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN is in the lead followed by local Rafael TRUJILLO and defending champion Ben AINSLIE in third. Yesterday's leader, Sebastien Godefroid (BEL) had an indifferent day to score a 17th and 11, to end up 4th overall. Likewise David Burrows (IRL), second after yesterday scored two 18ths to drop to 5th overall. A ninth and a first moved Andrew Simpson from 21st to 9th, while a 2nd and a 3rd moved Emilios Papathanasiou from 25th up to 11th.
One of the most colourful characters on the Finn circuit, Luca DEVOTI - who won the Silver medal in Sydney - retired from the regatta, claiming the end of his Finn racing career due to old age! He said 'I am too old for this anymore, I'm 41 next month and I can't race anymore. It hurts too much. But I still really enjoy the boat so I will just join the coaches.' He continued, 'I will still sail the boat, as it's so beautiful to me, but only for training.'
© Event Media
Racing continues Friday with a rest day on Saturday. Full results can be found on the regatta website.
Double-handed Dinghy - 470 -Wrap up after Two Races
Opening Results Predict An Exiting Progress Of 470 Worlds
In a 10-12 knots shifty ES breeze and choppy seas, the first two races have been completed in the both the 470 Men and 470 Women as start of the World Championship as part of the ISAF World Sailing Championships for Olympic Classes on the Bay of Cadiz.
The Men are separated in three groups (33/33/32), the Women in two groups (27/28) The opening results in the Men's Fleet are kind of remarkable, but exiting
Italy's Gabrio ZANDONA and Andrea TRANI have set the lead by two wins on the 1st day Qualifiers in their group. Still they have filed a protest against Sweden's Johan MOLUND and Martin ANDERSON that shall be handled the next few hours.
Daeyoung KIM and Sungahn JUNG from Korea set the lead for Asia by a perfect second overall position after two races.
With pride for their performance, Mathew and Daniel Belcher have sailed themselves in front of their fellow Australian team Nathan WILMOT / Malcolm PAGE. "It has been quite some time since we had such beautiful windy conditions with choppy seas" said Daniel. "We feel pretty good in these conditions. Last time we can remember we had such circumstances has been at the SOF at Hyères and the Princess Sofia Cup at Mallorca."
For the Australians, this Worlds event is very important. The last European Championship and especially this Worlds event counts as qualifying event for the Olympics.
The crew leading in age, winners of the last Open European Championship and one of the favourites for the Title of this Championship are Paul FOERSTER (39) and Kevin BURNHAM (47) from the USA. They sailed a 3rd position in both races today and currently take the fifth place overall.
Paul and Kevin are experienced Olympic Sailors. Paul won Silver in the FD Class in 1992 at the Olympics in Barcelona. Kevin was already active at that time in the 470 Class and won Silver at the same 1992 Olympic event. In 1996 Paul skipped the Atlanta Olympics because the FD had lost its Olympic status, he got married and focused on other things in life.
Title defenders Simon COOKE and Peter NICHOLAS had a good first race and ended as second overall. Their second race where they ended 12 puts them on a 14th position overall.
At the 470 Women Fleet the tone is set as the current overall results of the top 4 show exactly the outcome of last year's World Championship.
Nevertheless, Sofia BEKATOROU and Emilia TSOULFA from Greece, currently ranked first and Lisa WESTERHOF and Margriet MATTHIJSSE from The Netherlands, ranked second have shown some outstanding sailing in the first two races to end way in front of the rest of the Fleet in their different Groups.
During the first race in Group A, Marcelien DE KONING and Lobke BERKHOUT, also from the Netherlands, were leading the Fleet convincingly ahead of Lisa and Margriet and the rest of the Fleet with a perfect win as a result.. In the second race they managed to maintain position in front, however they lost their grip at the downwind mark at the final end of the race to end in a unfortunate eighteenth position.
After two races and based on performance, Lisa and Margriet currently may be the closest to another attempt to fetch the Worlds Title that the Greece girls have been defending with success the last three years.
Racing continues Tomorrow - Full results are available on the event website at the address below.
For today's wrap up in the Europe, Laser, Tornado and 49er classes, please CLICK HERE.