Competitors at the 470 World Championships were blessed with another day of unbeatable weather off Rungsted, north of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Blazing sunshine plus a stable southeasterly breeze that started at 8 knots and ended up closer to 20, allowed the race organisers at the Royal Danish Yacht Club to cash in on the conditions, holding three races for the five fleets, rather the scheduled two.
After five races a discard has come into play. Two teams remain tied at the top of the men's division where The Netherlands' Sven Coster
and Kalle Coster
and Croats Sime Fantela
and Igor Marenic
are on seven points, having both discarded eighth places.
Fantela and Mareni?, who usually sail out of Zadar, won the first two races today in the men's pink group, the first narrowly ahead of Israel's Gideon Kliger
and Udi Gal
, the second in front of New Zealand's Geoffrey Woolley
and Mark Overington
"It was really good, we are really satisfied," said Fantela. "Conditions were specific in the first race because of the strong current, so everyone was trying to start at the committee boat and tack towards shore. We made two good starts and were on the right side and it was a fight between five boats with the rest a long way behind." On the final race they went the wrong way up the first beat, rounding the top mark 14th, but managed to claw their way back up to sixth.
"The venue is great," continued Fantela, a former Optimist World Champion, who this year won the 470 Europeans. "We have been here for 20 days and there hasn't been a day without wind. It is not so cold - it is really good. And the organisation is great. The guys with our trolleys, the people in the tent are working really good and the GPS system is great. In Croatia they know the results sooner than us and after the race we can check our race on the tracker on the internet."
On 10 points, the Swiss team of Matías Buhler
and Felix Steiger
had the most consistent day with three third places and have the lowest discard - a third. "We are very happy, we had a perfect day," said Bühler. "We are in the qualifications now, but these good results are going to help a lot in the finals. We are also happy because today we were much more consistent in our decisions and also we were more conscious about what we were doing."
Bühler confirmed that today in the first two races before the course was moved it was important to bang the right hand side of the beat to get out of the current, which their coach estimated was running at 25m/min in the middle of the course. As an added hazard, along the tide line, crews regularly had to remove weed or even jellyfish from their rudder. As Beijing gold medallist Malcolm Page
observed of his helm "Matt [Mathew Belcher
] was hanging over the back all day. Five or six boats once they crossed the line the helms were immediately hung over the back…"
The Aussies had a good day today posting an 8, 3, 2, the eighth being a welcome result after they had restarted sensing they had been OCS. "We negotiated the fleet and got back around the boat and started well and truly last, by a long way and came back through. But the problem is we found out later that we weren't over! Otherwise it was a good day," said Page.
France's Nicolas Charbonnier
is lying eighth overall having won the first race today in the Pink division, in which the Swiss are also sailing. The Beijing bronze medallist is impressed with the venue. "Every day we have really good conditions. Compared to the training the wind is much steadier, so it is good for a world championship and we enjoy sailing in Denmark."
Charbonnier, who took two years out to compete in the America's Cup with Areva Challenge, has started sailing in January with Baptiste Meyer
, who was his coach for Beijing. Meyer has not competed for 12 years. They have had consistently been in the top 10 throughout this season, including a win at the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma.
While it is tight at the top of the men's division, among the women, a 3, 2, 1 scoreline today has allowed The Netherlands duo of Lisa Westerhof
and Beijing silver medallist and triple world champion Lobke Berkhout
to surge into the lead on seven points. Trailing them are eight boats packed together on 14-17 points. Among this group is the new British pairing of Beijing Yngling Gold medallist Pippa Wilson
and Saskia Clark
who are now sixth, the second Skandia Team GBR women's team behind Penny Clark
and Katrina Hughes
, who lie second after winning the last race in their group this afternoon.
Wilson and Clark posted a respectable 3, 2, 6 today, discarding an eighth (the second lowest after the Dutch). "We had a good day," said an exhausted looking Wilson. "We had two pretty good and one we had an almost-capsize at the very beginning, so it was a bit of a catch up."
Wilson tried her hand at the Laser Radial earlier this year, found it wasn't to her liking and was trying to get into the 470 at the same time as Penny Clark and Saskia Clark were looking to move on. Wilson's summer was a slow one suffering from a knee injury and tendonitis in her wrist and the new pairing has spent just 10 days sailing together before this regatta. Wilson is not new to the 470 though, having spent two years campaigning one before joining Sarah Ayton
and Sarah Webb
in the Yngling.
So racing the 470 is like riding a bike? "It half is and half isn't," says Wilson. "The Yngling is a very different boat and this is much more dynamic, so it is quite a lot to take in. It is great to be back and involved in it and remembering what it is all about."
Tomorrow the qualifying rounds continue. The forecast is for more southeasterly breeze early in the afternoon, but with the wind veering south and dropping later on and with less sun sadly.
Results - click here
Click here for our 470 World Championships page containing all the news, photos, links to live tracking, results and more from this year's 470 Worlds.
The 2009 470 World Championship is one of a number of high profile sailing regattas taking place in Denmark this summer as part of wider festival of different sports, called Denmark's Year of Sport. To do their utmost to ensure that their events are held to the highest possible standards the Danish Sailing Association is working with the support of the insurance company CODAN (part of Sun Alliance Group), to provide TracTrac tracking during the Laser Radial Europeans, Finn Gold Cup, EUROSAF Match Racing Europeans and 470 World Championship. The Danish Sailing Association has purchased 150 state-of-the-art GPS tracking devices, allowing races to be followed in real time over the internet.
Last year the TracTrac tracking of the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Århus, Denmark was followed by nearly 30,000 viewers from 69 countries all over the world.