The Medal Race places have been decided in the Men's and Women's 470 and the 49er, 49erFX, Finn and Nacra 17 leader boards have shaped up nicely heading into the penultimate day with plenty of equations still possible.
Today was a big day out for the 49erFX fleet as it was the first day of gold fleet and there were four races conducted in high winds. The boat park was decimated by the effort, both physical and emotional, to get through such an impactful day.
One team that thrived under the challenge was Ida Nielsen and Marie Olsen (DEN) who had all top 10 finishes today. "They are sailing with a lot of confidence right now, sailing smartly and quickly, and it's working for them," said their coach, Peter Hansen. The Danes have won both European Championships held in the 49erFX and are looking to add a World Title to their trophy cabinet.
Remaining in the hunt are Brazilians Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze, who started the day with a 2, 1 before falling back to a 13 and 10. Nobody has spent more time on podiums this season than the Rio natives, but the final step to top position has mostly eluded them. If they can do well in the final race of the series tomorrow they could have a chance to claim the title in the Medal Race on Sunday.
What is guaranteed at this stage is that there will be a new world Champion in 2014. 2013 Champions Alex Maloney have had an up and down regatta and sit just outside the medal race in 11th position. They will be looking to extend their regatta with a good final race so they can make the Medal Race, but it's too much to ask at 51 points back for them to have a chance at the title.
The fight for the Olympic qualifying berths stretches back to the 15-19 group of Australia, Finland, and France. These teams just have one final race to see who can claim the 10th Olympic berth available in Santander.
Today was a relatively light day on the water for the 49er teams, with only two races held in breezy conditions. The podium picture became much clearer as the Olympic gold medallists in the fleet asserted themselves. London 2012 Gold medallists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen won the day with a 2, 1 and moved into second overall. Beijing 2008 Gold medallist Jonas Warrer with Anders Thomsen had a great day too with a 3, 4, pulling them up into third place, with a 20 point gap to fourth.
Overall leaders Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) started out the day in typical form with another win, but then got tangled up at the leeward mark in race 2 with the collision resulting in a capsize. They got it back upright and managed a 14th, their drop race but they were later disqualified from the race and discarded the score. They maintain a 24 point lead and could secure the victory with a good race tomorrow prior to the Medal Race.
In the fight for Olympic berths, a few veteran teams will have grins tonight and will be hoping to have beaming smiles tomorrow. Nico Delle Karth & Niko Resch (AUT) and Jorge Lima & Jose Costa (POR) are both mathematically guaranteed to be in the Medal Race and secure Olympic berths for their nations. Ireland, Britain, Spain, and France have not yet secured the Medal Race but have secured themselves top 10 nation status. That leaves Italy with a healthy 23 point lead over Croatia for the final berth, with only one race to go.
49er and 49erFX Reports Courtesy of Ben Remocker, International 49er Class Association
Giles Scott has moved into a 20 point lead in the Finn fleet after two more challenging races. Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) moved up to second with Jonathan Lobert (FRA) dropping one to third. Large pressure changes and wind bands funnelling down the course caused more than a few upsets with patience and calm decision making reaping benefits at the top mark. Some of the top 10 picked up some high scores.
Despite his worst scoring day so far, Scott still had the best day on the water with a third and a fourth. His nearest rival Kljakovic Gaspic placed fifth and sixth, giving the Brit a crucial points cushion going into Saturday's two final gold fleet races. And with lighter winds forecast, it is a long way from being over. The gold fleet race wins today went to Ed Wright (GBR) and Alex Muscat (ESP).
Giorgio Poggi (ITA) now leads the silver fleet after trading first and second places with Martin Robitaille (CAN), who is now just one point behind.
Scott summed up the day, "It was a hard day. Shifty and random. I got a third and fourth which I am actually pretty happy with because that was really difficult sailing. There were big leftys and big rightys and they were long as well so you could easily get stuck on the wrong side. So I am pretty happy come away unscathed. But Bambi was only a couple behind me in each race so it's not over yet."
Finn Report Courtesy of Robert Deaves, International Finn Class Association
Today the Nacra 17 sailed their first day in the Gold Fleet and Silver Fleet. Four races per fleet were scheduled back to back. The day started with good stable wind (around 18 Knots) and during the day took off a little bit and became more & more shifty. Between 11:00 and 14:30 local time the gold fleet were able to sail three races under good wind conditions. During their fourth race the wind became more and more shifty.
After nine races in the gold fleet the French team of Billy Besson & Marie Riou are leading overall. With today's results 1, 1, 12, 7 they have a very good starting point for the coming days.
After they day was done they said, "After four races hard sailing we are a bit tired. The wind was good and steady in the first 2 races. In races 3 & 4 it became more and more complicated with winds shifts. The fleet is sailing very close together which makes it very exciting and difficult. But we are happy with this day results and look forward to tomorrow."
A big surprise in the daily and overall results comes from Argentina's Santiago Lange & Cecilia Carranza Saroli. After a good day yesterday they are ascending in the overall results and are second overall now.
Lange explained his day, "Maybe we had a little bit of luck today, but we are very happy with the results from today (3, 3, 14, 6). Every day the sailing goes better & better. We have only sailed the Nacra 17 about 50-60 days and still are learning a lot. Before the Nacra 17 I sailed Laser, Tornado, America's Cup and a lot of other boats. So we have a lot of sailing experience. But this boat is new and exciting. At 53 I am one of the oldest sailors in the fleet but I am feeling very good and look forward to the coming days."
Pippa Wilson and John Grimson sit third overall following a 13, 8, 32, 5 scoreline.
Tomorrow, three more Gold Fleet races are scheduled before the Medal Race. In the overall results the top 15 teams are very close together, so tomorrow is going to be a very exciting and important day for the last qualification to be in the Medal Race.
Nacra 17 Report Courtesy of Edwin Lodder, International Nacra 17 Class Association
Saturday's Medal Race will be a three-way battle for the World Championship gold medal between series leaders Lara Vadlau and Jola Ogar (AUT), Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (NZL) and Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR).
Vadlau and Ogar attacked today's two races with their usual spirit and burning desire to be in front. Sitting on a one point deficit behind the Kiwis going into the day, they advance to the double-points Medal Race with a one point advantage at the front of the leaderboard. Also in the bag are Austria's ticket to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and they are guaranteed a 470 World Championship medal. Reverse back two years to the 2012 470 World Championships and Vadlau secured the last nation slot to the London 2012 Olympics. In Weymouth, Vadlau was the youngest helm and scored a race best result of 10th amongst the Olympic fleet. Since then, her success has been unwavering and regardless of the colour of the medal secured tomorrow, today marks a defining moment in Vadlau's career.
"We are really happy with today," grinned Vadlau. "It was really not such an easy wind, it was really shifty and anything could have happened. We achieved our first target for this Worlds, to get the ticket.
"It feels great, but our main target is in Rio. Everything that comes now is a nice gift. With Jola together we can achieve everything when we sail good. When we both do our jobs this is the outcome."
London 2012 Olympic Gold medallists and defending World Champions, Aleh and Powrie have also guaranteed themselves a podium finish, regardless of where they finish in the Medal Race.
Race wins went to Brazil's Renata Decnop and Isabel Swan and in a surprise end to their Championship, Great Britain's Christina Bassadon and Eilidh McIntyre. Brought in as a last minute replacement, as Mcintyre's usual helm Sophie Weguelin was injured, 2008 Olympian Bassadone stepped in to the 470 with just four hours of training, having last competed in a 470 four years ago .
Medal Race strategies will be intricately gone through tonight. Whilst the Austrians and Kiwis are guaranteed medals, behind them it is all open. Sitting 13 points behind the Kiwis, Great Britain's Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark go into the Medal Race in third overall and have a shot to upgrade to silver, but will also be focused on holding on to bronze. Only two teams have a chance at knocking the British off the podium, with their closest rivals being world ranked #1 pair, Camille Lecointre and Helene Defrance of France who sit 10 points behind in fourth overall. An outside chance at bronze also goes to the USA's Anne Haegar and Briana Provancha.
Australia's Mat Belcher and Will Ryan made it four race wins in a row today, as they added victory in races 7 and 8, to yesterday's wins in races 6 and 7. Great Britain's Luke Patience and Elliott Willis sealed the race 9 win and now put themselves within reach of the bronze medal.
On the eve of his 32nd Birthday, Belcher sits on the verge of claiming his fifth successive 470 World Championship title. If he succeeds, it would mark an unprecedented achievement in the history of the 470 Class, and most likely in any Olympic Class.
"It was really shifty today and it was easy to find yourselves at the back," explained Belcher. "It wasn't easy to get the first shift, but we were fighting pretty hard to try and come back. There was plenty of opportunity out there, so we were able to come back really well and sail a great day."
Commenting on the potential for another World title tomorrow, Belcher continued, "It is a pretty big deal. This year we have sailed really well and I am a firm believer that we deserve to be where we are. A lot can happen in a medal race and we have seen that before where we had an even bigger points gap, that at one stage we weren't winning."
The Australians go into Saturday's double-points Medal Race with a 14.7 point advantage over Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic from Croatia, with Greece's Panagotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis in third. Only the Croatians can wrestle gold from the Australians, but that would take a win for them and an improbable last place for the Australians.
The Croatians, Greeks and Great Britain's Patience and Willis are all in the hunt for silver and bronze medals, so the stage is set for some thrilling racing on the grandstand Duna course on Saturday.
Several rising star 470 teams have forced the more experienced sailors to look over their shoulders through this Championship. Kazuto Doi and Kimihiki Imamura (JPN), Guillaume Pirouelle and Sipan Valentin (FRA) and the 2013/2014 470 Junior World Champions Jordi Xammar and Joan Herp (ESP) have all made it to the Medal Race, with the French and Spanish also earning the honour of securing their nation's slots at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
470 Reports Courtesy of Luissa Smith, International 470 Class Association
Medal Races are scheduled to commence at 14:15 and 15:15 local time on Saturday 20 September.
The remaining fleets will commence at 13:00.
Schedule of Racing:
14-20 September, 470 Men and 470 Women
15-21 September, 49er, 49erFX, Finn and Nacra 17
Live Blog - A live blog will follow the ISAF Worlds from Thursday 11 September through to Sunday 21 September. The live blog is available here http://www.sailing.org/events/isafworlds/live-blog.php