Maelenn Lemaitre and Aloise Retornaz of France lead the Ladies' Championship and Pablo Völker and Agustín Cunill Martinez, the Open Fleet at the 2011 420 Worlds in Buenos Aires, Argentina at the half way point.
The challenging conditions, which have surprised the locals, have seen several teams take the lead during the six races so far in the twelve race series. Annabel Vose
and Megan Brickwood (GBR) and Nadine Böhm and Monika Lindner (GER) have both had the lead and now have a point dividing them in second and third. But the first discard kicking in brought the French team onto the top of the leaderboard, with a series of five bullets! Argentina's experienced 420 women's sailors, Luz Bonello and Sofía Tedin
and Italy's Giulia Lantier and Martha Faraguna are in fourth and fifth respectively, but on equal points.
ISAF Youth World Champions, Jordi Xammar
and Joan Herp
(ESP) led for the first two days of racing. But on the third day, Pablo Völker
and Agustín Cunill Martinez
(ARG) had 1-3-1 results, giving them a 15 point lead over Benjamin Grez
and Diego Gonzalez
(CHI) and Xammar and Herp, who are on equal points. Former European Champions and twice bronze medallists at the 420 Worlds, Edoardo Mancinelli Scotti and Leonardo Cucchiara are fourth, Tim Gratton and Ed Riley (GBR) fifth and Jens Marten and Mats Kampen (GER) sixth.
This is the first time that the International 420 Worlds has been held in South America. Decisions about awarding venues are made by the Class' General Assembly of representatives of all Country Class Associations, and the sailors and coaches of Argentina, together with YC Argentino, have motivated for this for the last four years. Pablo V?lker commented, "it is really nice to see so many 420s in Argentina. We wanted to host this championship since some years ago and finally we are hosting it. We are all having fun on the water and also on land (we had a good opening ceremony and New Year party). The YC Argentino is making a really good job".
Speaking before the start, Ricardo Navarro
, Championship PRO (BRA) said, the "sailing conditions in Buenos Aires this time of the year are excellent for a World Championship. Sunny days, fresh afternoon breeze between 8 -15 knots, a challenging, but not so strong current and, in the evening, a nice sunset to enjoy a barbecue talking about the races with friends. A perfect atmosphere for a 420 Worlds. Of course "Rio de la Plata" has its secrets, sometimes you can face shifty wind conditions, or a strong current....At the end, everything was prepared, the club did a great job and now we are only waiting to 'start the game'
Juan De la fuente
, Olympic Bronze 470 sailor and leading Argentine coach, who recently led our South American joint coaching clinic with the 470 Class in Buenos Aires, said, "I am coaching multinational 420 Zaoli Sails teams. There is a good level of sailors and coaches in the fleet. Everything is prepared for a great World Championship: good forecast for the first racing days; Race management is top level: Juries; Race Committee and people from Race Office. It was pretty warm during the recent days, but once in the water it´s not that hot….I think everyone prefer this to skating, skiing and racing with ice yachts, like in Europe or North America!"
Well start the game they did! In the event, winds varying between 17 and 22 knots, over the first two days of racing and starting out at 15 knots on the third day, but building to 23 knots in Race 6, this has been challenging sailing for most of the competitors.
Senior Argentine sailor, Sofia Tedin, a veteran of World Championships in Europe and back in the 420 for this event, said, after two days of racing, "the high temperatures we saw during the previous days (measurement and registration, in particular) have cooled down a little, and it is not unbearably hot anymore….just plain hot!
"The wind has surprised us all! We did expect what we call the "Virazon", which is when the wind shifts to the South East and increases in intensity; this happens often during the summer. This was what encouraged the Race Management to postpone the starts for the first days to 2 pm, which I feel was a really wise move. Luckily enough wind has shown up every single day, and the forecast says it will show up on the following days as well".
The conditions evidently proved more challenging than anticipated. Sofia Tedin again: "The Rio de la Plata and its shallowness has played a hard trick on some, as it is common that the masts hit the mud in the bottom when the boats capsize. This, combined with strong waves that push them deeper into the bottom of the river, has had its costs, as we've seen some broken masts. Not particularly us 'Argies', as we are used to quickly jumping and avoiding complete capsizes."
Pablo Völker, ARG National Champion and a veteran of two World Championships, confirmed that "the conditions up to now have been tough (and it seems that for some more days it will be like this also). In Garda (2009) we also had a lot of wind, and in Israel (2010) also for the first days. The big difference here is that the waves are shorter and very close, so downwind is really funny, but also very difficult".
The Team Bo'suns have been kept very busy, with lots of equipment replacements - masts, sails and foils - and repairs required. What has been particularly impressive has been the level of co-operation between the teams in the boat park (as well as on the dance floor!, while competition is fierce on the race course.
The entry for this Championship - 96 boats, 192 sailors from 5 continents - has been very encouraging, given that this is the Class' first Championship in South America. There are many experienced sailors from previous Championships, including the current leaders in both Fleets. The 2010 Junior World Champions, Navee Thamsoontorn
and Atiwat Chomtongdee
of Thailand and the 2010 Junior European Silver Medallists, the young (and light!), Kavas brothers, Alexandros and Giorgos, of Greece. Other top-15 contestants at the 2010 Worlds in Haifa who are here are Guillaume Pirouelle and Valentin Sipan (FRA), Clara and Lucie Scheiwiller (FRA), Joanna Freeman (GBR), Gwenaelle Berhault (FRA), Hermione Stanley (GBR), Nikole Bames and Agustina Barbuto (ISV) and Linda Fahrni and Maja Siegenthaler (SUI).
From South America, in addition to the large entry from the well-established Argentine Class, there are competitors from several of the countries which have been encouraged in recent years through Class' Development Strategy. As Sofia Tedin says, "there is a large number of South American countries represented (Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Ecuador, and Argentina, of course), most of which have new fleets in development (most Chilean girls have just finished sailing Optis), and the opportunity that has been provided for sailing with top teams in a known venue (most South Americans came to sail in Buenos Aires in the past) and at a low cost is really inspiring and pushes the development of the Class in these emerging countries. It is really expensive for most of us to do a World Championship in Europe. Many of these kids never ever dreamt of it - you should see their faces of happiness as they never imagine they could be part of a top-level event like this…..We are really impressed at the number of boats we have seen and from so many continents! I don't remember a World Championship of any class in Argentina with such a huge number of participants coming from so many different places! We only hear locals talking about the huge response to the Championship here. We are really thankful to those who have travelled long distances for showing up :)
The Worlds this year have seen a profusion of Team and sailor blogs and facebook pages on the web, as well as coverage on the Championship and Class websites. These have been both entertaining and informative. Championship Manager at YC Argentino, Freya More, has instituted a continuous feed of information regarding the racing, with the welcome cooperation of the Race Committee, thus enabling supporters worldwide to follow the action. The collaborative approach between teams, team managers and coaches in the boat park and the social activities and very friendly interplay between the sailors off the water, have all been particularly notable.
The Argentine sailors themselves are very much responsible for running their own Class and have traditionally had a communications role on their Committee. Felicitas Roldán has organised their facebook pages, photographs and daily reports for the International Class, after herself coming off the water. She has the last word (as usual!) after the third day's racing: "the party…we had a really good time, danced a lot, and received the New Year with happiness and 'great expectations'. Oh, I'm forgetting...with great winds too! (thinking of today's third race... perhaps too great...!)".
Event website - www.420worlds2011.org.ar
International 420 Class Association website - www.420sailing.org