A mixed bag of weather tested skiff racing teams on day 1 at the SAP 49er & 49erFX Europeans 2013 in Aarhus, Denmark.
Twenty seven nations are represented in Denmark with 91 49er teams and 37 49erFX teams competing.
The teams were greeted with a perfect breeze on the openingmorning, with the 49er blue and yellow fleets up first onto the two race courses. But their racing mission had to be postponed as a storm swept across the race course, which was followed by clear skies, but no wind, leaving the teams postponed for an hour. An unpredictable breeze filled in, but constant changes in direction forced the Race Committee to abandon several races, before conditions stabilised enough for racing.
The 91 strong 49er teams are split into three fleets for the two days of qualification, after which they will be seeded to Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets for the Fleet Races. Two races were completed for each fleet, although postponements followed by race abandonments tested the patience of teams.
Solid racing from Spain's Diego Botin and Pablo Turrado with a 1,4 scoreline, positions them in first overall on five points and carrying the tiebreak advantage over Philipp Kramer and Thilo Kramer of Germany. The Spanish pair finished in 15th overall at last year's 49er Europeans and with double-digit finishes at the two World Cup events they have contested this year, appear to be punching above their weight. Just one point behind in third overall are Portugal's Jorge Lima and Jose Luis Costa.
World #2 French helm Julien D'Ortoli was reflective about the day and task ahead, commenting, "The wind was very light and very shifty, so in fact it was really hard to know where the wind would go. The wind was so tricky and hard to decide. During the race we go good and go bad and it was difficult to stay in the same place. In the first race we did not do so good. The second race was better and we were happy to finish in 10th. Tomorrow there should be more wind and this will be better as it will be less shifty."
With only one more day of qualification, the pressure is on for the team to ensure they up their game from 36th on the leader board and qualify to the gold fleet, as D'Ortoli recognized. "Tomorrow is the last day of qualification, so I think we will have 3 or 4 races and the top boats will be in the gold fleet for the next three days, and we hope to be in gold fleet."
Not normally to be found at the back of the top third of the fleet are Great Britain's world #4 team of David Evans and Edward Powys, who so far this year have secured podium positions at ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma, ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres and Delta Lloyd Regatta. They struggled in the first race to find their footing, but knocked out a fourth in race 2 to sit just ahead of the relegation zone in 27th.
"It was a tricky day today, lots of shifts and the wind was up and down,"
said Powys. "It was really hard for the race officers to set a good course, but we didn't have it quite as hard as some of the other fleets who got out and then come back in and then gone out again. It is important to be in the top to go through to the gold fleet. So the aim is to plug in some good ones and then it will get more important later in the week."
Racing is scheduled to get underway on the second day at 11:00, with 4 races for the 49er fleets, to complete the qualification series.
49er - Leader board Top 10 after 2 Races
1. Diego Botin/Pablo Turrado (ESP) - 5 pts
2. Philipp Kramer/Thilo Kramer (GER) - 5 pts
3. Jorge Lima/Jose Luis Costa (POR) - 6 pts
4. Dylan Fletcher/Alain Sign (GBR) - 9 pts
5. Victor Bergström/Victor Västernäs (SWE) - 10 pts
6. Will Phillips/Rhys Mara (AUS) - 11 pts
7. Nic Asher/Fynn Sterritt (GBR) - 11 pts
8. Henry Lloyd Williams/Sam Batten (GBR) - 12 pts
9. Jonas Warrer/Peter Lang (DEN) - 12 pts
10. Erik Heil/Thomas Ploessel (GER) - 14 pts
The 49erFX are sailing their series as a single fleet, so no pressure for a few days yet. With the exception of one team who recently retired from competitive racing, all of the world's top 10 49erFX teams are here, so expect a close battle to unfold.
Making their mark to seal the early running are Germany's Tina Lutz and Susann Beucke who posted a 7, 3, 2 to hold a 13 point advantage over the second placed Brazilian pairing of Martine Grael and Katten Kunze. In third and on equal points with the Brazilians are the world ranked #1 team of Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech from New Zealand.
It was a tough call today for the teams, trying to read the pressure around the track and choose the right make or break decisions in really shifty conditions. However, for the top teams the day was all about consistency, and you have to delve down to the sixth placed team on the overall leader board to find a race win.
The opening race win went to the home team of Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen, a pair who have really made an impression so far this year, claiming victory at ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma and finishing third on the podium at last month's Delta Lloyd Regatta. They end day 1 in eighth overall.
The race 2 win went to sisters Jule Görge and Lotta Görge, but their win sandwiched between a 28th in race 1 and 33nd in race 3, only positions them in 20th on the leader board. Onto race 3, and the relatively new pairing from Great Britain of Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth crossed the line first, to end day one in sixth overall.
An interesting day for the 49erFX fleet with no overwhelming dominance at the front of each race, but some evident strategies to deliver safe and solid racing. Three races are scheduled for the 49erFX fleet on the second day, with the first race scheduled to get underway at 11:00.
49erFX Women - Leader board Top 10 after 3 Races
1. Tina Lutz/Susann Beucke (GER) - 12 pts
2. Martine Soffiatti Grael/Kattena Larsen Kunze (BRA) - 25 pts
3. Alexandra Maloney/Molly Meech (NZL) - 25 pts
4. Ella Giudice/Kate Lathouras (AUS) - 28 pts
5. Victoria Jurczok/Anika Lorenz (GER) - 32 pts
6. Charlotte Dobson/Sophie Ainsworth (GBR) - 33 pts
7. Giulia Conti/Francesca Clapcich (ITA) - 33 pts
8. Ida Marie Baad Nielsen/Marie Thusgaard Olsen (DEN) - 35 pts
9. Frances Peters/Nicola Groves (GBR) - 36 pts
10. Johanna Sommarlund/Kevin Reisenaver (SWE) - 39 pts