The 49ers were on race area B and had to dance and move softly and slowly as they made their way upwind. The fleet was close together for the first two legs of the course, but once around the leeward mark they separated and when far out to the corners. The leaders, with the exception of Athanasios PACHOUMAS and Athanasios SIOUZIOS (GRE), played the top right with both the skipper and the crew crouched more often than standing. At the front Iker MARTINEZ and Xabier FERNANDEZ (ESP) and PACHOUMAS and SIOUZIOS did a bear away set while Andre FONSECA and Rodrigo DUARTE (BRA) did a gybe set and immediately passed the Greek team.
Many boats came together as some bore off to head downwind while others were still trying to round the mark. As the Norwegian, Croatian, Polish and American boats came together a silent ballet ensued while they tried to avoid collisions. MARTINEZ and FERNANDEZ rounded the second weather mark with a 1-minute lead and ultimately finished ahead of the Brazilians by a 30-second margin. PACHOUMAS and SIOUZIOS came in third whilst recently crowned World Champions and world #1 Stevie MORRISON and Ben RHODES (GBR) recovered from 14th at the second mark to sixth by the finish.
After missing out on the Medal Race at last year's Olympic Test Event, it was far more successful start for the Spanish reigning Olympic Champions in Qingdao. 'We didn't do too well in last year's event,' admitted MARTINEZ. 'This year, we have come in with more preparation, and are hoping to come out in the top ten. We will be training hard for the 2008 Olympics.'
A little further to the southeast, the 470 Women and 470 Men drifted in the light air and strong current for hours. A little more cloud cover cooled things down enough to create enough breeze to start the women. The 470 Men's race, however was abandoned after the women rounded the top mark in their race and it was clear that the wind was dissipating.
Like the 49ers, the 470 Women also had a slow beat. Going downwind very slowly, the pack went left while a few boats looked for and found pressure on the middle right. Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON (AUS) led to the left gate at the bottom mark of the trapezoidal course. The Aussies and the treble World Champions Marcelien DE KONING and Lobke BERKHOUT (NED) sailed under the rest of the fleet that was still grinding away on the run. Stefanie ROTHWEILER and Vivien KUSSAT (GER) led a group to the right gate where there was quite a pile up and at least one set of circles done. The Aussies ended up taking the gun ahead of DE KONING and BERKHOUT, with the German team of ROTHWEILER and KUSSAT third, ahead of last year's test event winners Therese TORGERSSON and Vebdela SACHRISSON (SWE).
'We had a relatively bad start. A lot of boats were over the line, leading to several black flags. For this race, we decided to head up the middle, and it ended out working in our favour. '
RECHICHI and PARKINSON were delighted with their performance in the first race. PARKINSON beamed, 'Winning our first race feels amazing and it was a great way to start off the week.' She commented, 'We had a relatively bad start. A lot of boats were over the line, leading to several black flags. For this race, we decided to head up the middle, and it ended out working in our favour.'