Day three of the 470 World Championships off the Royal Danish Yacht Club's club house in Rungsted, Denmark and it is the Dutch who are stealing the show, topping both men's and women's fleets.
Having sailed three races on Monday, Tuesday was a comparatively short one with just one to sail, the final of the qualifying series.
The Costers brothers, Sven Coster
and Kalle Coster
(NED), went into today's racing joint leaders with Croats Sime Fantela
and Igor Marenic
, and came first in the yellow group, their third bullet out of six races. They now have now pulled into the lead of the men's division at the end of the qualifying round.
"It is nice to be right up there," enthused Sven Coster. "We had a good start at the committee boat and we played the right shifts and we came in with more pressure." Today with the course set more offshore, the current was less of a factor, he says, although counter current on the windward legs made for a long race. Brother Kalle added: "There was a lot less pressure on the left side of the course, so the guys who were stuck out there really lost out a lot on their first beat."
However the Coster brothers, 10 year veterans in the 470 class, are well aware that it is early days yet at this regatta, with three days of Gold fleet racing starting tomorrow, prior to Saturday's medal race.
As to the reason for their success, they say that their gear is identical to what they used in Beijing and they have had time off. "We learned a lot last year and we made a good evaluation after the Games. Then we quit for eight months and we came back together in Hyeres, where it was tough - we were 25th. Everyone else had trained a lot and we hadn't obviously."
The Costers now hold the lead on eight points, three ahead of Austrian duo Matthias Schmid
and Florian Reichstädter
, the ISAF #12 ranked in the 470, who are definitely punching above their weight at this regatta, having been on the podium in every race so far save for a 14th in the first. Two points further adrift are yesterday's joint leaders, Fantela and Marenic who posted a seventh today, and Swiss duo Matías Buhler
and Felix Steiger
, who were sixth today.
While the Costers top the men's class, so their fellow Delta Lloyd-backed team mates Lisa Westerhof
and Lobke Berkhout
(NED) hold an even greater lead among the women, posting a fourth place today bringing their tally up to 10, seven points ahead of three teams vying for silver on 17.
So is it coincidence that two Dutch teams are leading? "I don't know," says Sven Coster. "We don't train together, but we have trained a lot together in the past and they are, I know for sure, the best girl's team." "A very talented team," his brother nods in agreement.
Among the three women's teams chasing the Dutch are the Australian gold medallists from Beijing, Elise Rechichi
and Tessa Parkinson
. All three Australian women's teams competing had relatively good results today, Rechichi and Parkinson finishing third with Stacey Omay
and Chelsea Hall
"We are really happy with the race at this stage of the regatta," said Rechichi. "We want solid nice scores, which other than the first day is what we've been managing. But there are still four days to go." Following Beijing, Rechichi and Parkinson have had time off and this is their first regatta back in the 470 since China. "This is about getting our feeling back into the game," continues Rechichi. "In general it is quite a tricky venue, but quite nice sailing at the same time. We are just enjoying being back and racing and having a bit less stress than in an Olympic year."
This is Rechichi's sixth World Championship and the first time she has raced in Denmark. "Coming to the north of Europe I had prepared myself for the worst - rain and cold - so I am very pleasantly surprised! The water is not too cold and generally we've had nice sun. So I think it is really nice to be in Denmark."
As to the competition Rechichi says in the post-Olympic year there is always a lot of depth in the fleet, with a new influx coming in at the bottom. "There are people from other classes and new teams that appear to be very strong. The Optimist World Champion from Germany [Tina Lutz
, who won the Optimist Worlds in 2005, and is now lying 10th], she is very talented. The new crop has really improved."
Rechichi and Parkinson are tied on 17 points with the 2009 European Champions, Guilia Conti and Giovanna Micol from Italy and the brand new British pairing Pippa Wilson
, the Yngling gold medallist from Beijing, and Saskia Clark
, who was sixth in the 470 in China last year. Clark's Beijing helm, Penny Clark
, now racing with Katrina Hughes
, was second overall yesterday, but a 15th today has dropped them to ninth.
The other winners in the Men's class today were Spain's Onan Barreiros
and Aaron Sarmiento
, now 22nd overall, and the top US team, Stuart McNay
and Graham Biehl
, present leaders in the ISAF Sailing World Cup
, who lie tenth.
"We got a good start and we were able to follow people in the right direction," McNay recounted of today's race. "The leaders were always in sight. It wasn't until the last downwind leg that we thought we had a chance to win the race." On the penultimate leg they overtook the New Zealanders Paul Snow-hansen
and Jason Saunders
to add a welcome win to their score-line.
This is McNay's seventh World Championship and he is pleased to be reunited with his crew who has been off during the summer following ankle surgery. As to whether he at the age of 28 is a bit young by American standards to be sailing the 470 (Kevin Burnham
was 48 when he won 470 gold in Athens) he retorts: "Yes, it could be another 15 years before we are on top!" To assist US Sailing Team Alphagraphics, Burnham and Paul Foerster
have both helped the younger team in the build-up to Beijing, where they finished 13th. "It is inspiring to work with guys who have achieved that much."
As to the venue, McNay reckons it is fantastic. "It is really nice to have such a big parking lot and two launch ramps - that's great. It has been really good racing so far."
Tomorrow the teams will be divided into gold, silver, bronze fleets for the men, gold and silver for the smaller women's class. Weather-wise a cold front is expected to pass across Denmark tonight and with it a shift to the dreaded west, an offshore breeze, that with the northerly flowing current will make the racing especially challenging.
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.