Crunch day in Valencia, Spain at the 2013 420 World Championships as teams made their final punch to protect and advance their leaderboard positions and secure their progress through to the finals stage. Two more races today have determined the gold, silver and bronze fleet splits for the next 6 races finals stage.
Racing got underway in about 8 knots of breeze, which steadily built through the afternoon's racing to about 15 knots. Pushing too hard by many teams at the start forced numerous general recalls in the opening races of the day, with 24 black flags across the 110 boats in the 420 Open fleets in race 5. Not the best outcome, but race 5 was when the discard kicked in to shuffle things up, and with teams trying to scurry up the leaderboard to make the top 37 boats advancing to the gold fleet, they took the risk. Unfortunately the black flag penalty score was to prove the fatal downfall for some.
Massive disappointment for Italy's Gianmaria Caiconti/Edoardo Portoraro who were in control of the leaderboard going into race 6, but ultimately were left floundering at the back of the blue fleet with a ripped spinnaker. In a strong position after the first upwind, they rounded the mark and ripped their spinnaker during the hoist to finish the race in 36th.
"It was so bad,"
said Caiconti, "I don't know why it happened."
Regardless of this setback, their performance is certainly better than expected, as Portoraro explained, "We are very happy and very pleased with how we are sailing. We didn't expect to be at the front, but we are very good with light wind. I think that the racing conditions here are good for us."
No change in tactics planned as the pair advance into the gold fleet in third overall, with Caiconti saying. "I will not change my sailing and we will sail as normal."
So it is the ISAF Youth World Champions Tiago Brito/Andrei Kneipp who continue to hold onto the series leader's yellow bibs and carry a 5 point margin over France's Sebastien Simon/Pierre Rhimbault who have made the biggest leaderboard gain, moving up to second overall from 8th after winning both their races in the blue fleet.
Up into fourth and continuing their steady climb up the leaderboard are brothers Rodrigo and Francisco Ducasse from Chile, who notched up two more front of fleet results of 2 and 6.
"The conditions we have here are great for us,"
said Rodrigo. "Today in the first race we had less wind so it turned out well for us because we are lightweight. In the second one we had some problems, but I think we did a great job today."
Sailing with a sibling has its ups and downs as Rodrigo acknowledged, "It's really good because we know each other, but sometimes we are sick of each other and that makes racing more difficult. But we love to sail together and we know how to understand each other on the race course."
As the Chileans moved up to fourth, Japan's Ibuki Koizumi/Tsubasa Arioka dropped down from fourth as they suffered a black flag penalty score from race 5, but redeemed themselves back safely into the top 10 with a fifth place finish in race 6.
There are only two teams in the top 10 who carry all top 10 finishes on their scoreline, the series leaders Brito/Kneipp and New Zealand's Sam Barnett/Zak Merton. Sailing safe and steady, letting others make the mistakes seems to be the Kiwi's'mantra as they compete at only their second international event. They finished 5th at the ISAF Youths last week and sit in a strong position of 6th overall going into the gold fleet.
"This is our first trip overseas together,"
said Barnett. "We have had an awesome time and have learnt a lot about racing in a big fleet with lots of quality boats. It has been really good. The training that we have done at home has put us in reasonably good stead and we have had a good programme. We are really enjoying it."
Coming to Europe has been an eye opener for the pair giving them their first opportunity to benchmark themselves against the best 420 sailors in the world. Merton puts their success down to an intense training programme and their ISAF Youths experience, saying, "We have worked really hard all season, so there are a whole stream of emotions when you are doing well like this, it feels really good. Having come straight from the ISAF Youths, we are in race mode and have the experience of the fleet and are in the rhythm. So we jumped back straight back into the 420 having had a good result in Cyprus. Before we came over to Europe, we had never sailed against anyone from overseas apart from one Australian team who came to our New Zealand 420 Nationals, so to come to Europe and do so well, yes we are quite pleased."
Moving on to the final series, 37 boats have qualified to the gold fleet, 37 to the silver fleet and 36 to the bronze. The last team making the gold fleet cut with a 1 point margin are Mattia Ugrin/Mirko Juretic, who round off an impressive qualification series for Italy, with 6 of their 7 420 Open teams qualifying to the gold fleet.
420 Open -Leaderboard Top 10
1. Tiago Brito/Andrei Kneipp (BRA) - 10 pts
2. Sebastien Simon/Pierre Rhimbault (FRA) - 15 pts
3. Gianmaria Caiconti/Edoardo Portoraro (ITA) - 18 pts
4. Rodrigo Ducasse/Francisco Ducasse (CHI) - 20 pts
5. José María Ruiz/Fernando Davila (ESP) - 23 pts
6. Sam Barnett/Zak Merton (NZL) - 23 pts
7. Ibuki Koizumi/Tsubasa Arioka (JPN) - 25 pts
8. Diogo Pereira/Pedro Cruz (POR) - 27 pts
9. Xavier Hayweski/Alexis Thomas (ITA) - 27 pts
10. Swann Hayewski/Alexis Thomas (FRA) - 28 pts
Yet another impressive day from Carlotta Omari/Francesca Russo Cirillo (ITA), who delivered a 2, 15 scorecard to lead over team mates Anna Bettoni/Sofia Carluccio. In third overall are Spain's Paula Barceló/Margarita Alba, who are the only team to carry an all top 10 scoreline, an advantage that will serve them well over the next 6 races.
"We are really happy with our position, as it is a surprise for us. We are going to try to keep working hard,"
said Barceló. They are a long way above Spain's own 420 National Champions Silvia Mas/Nuria Miró, which is their biggest surprise. "I think we will be able to continue to do well, as we don't have the same pressure of expectation as some other teams."
Barceló has been sailing a 420 for two years, and partnered up with Alba a year ago. Her dream is the ultimate goal of competing at the Olympics in the 470 Class, but with studies in medicine beckoning, the balance of sport and education may be a challenge.
Today was the day that shot Great Britain's Annabel Cattermole/Bryony Bennett-Lloyd up the leaderboard with a consistent 2, 4 in the blue fleet. "It is amazing out there,"
said Cattermole. "The competition is so tight, so anything you do is magnified in the results, so you can go up 5 places if you make a good decision, but a bad layline call and its down 5 points, so it is really tough out there."
Looking ahead to their goals for the final series, she continued, "A top 10 position would be nice and medalling ideally, but we will just see how it goes and see what the week presents to us."
Plummeting out of the top 3 are Chile's Nadja Horwitz/Carmina Malsch, with two double digit results pushing them to 10th overall.
Sitting one place ahead in 9th are Turkey's Zeynep Yentur/Deniz Gokmeral who wrapped up their qualification series with a win in race 6 for their best day of racing so far.
"Today was a good day because the wind was better, with wind and waves, which we like so we did better,"
said Yentur. Despite their reticence on the start line, the pair punched up the first leg to round the windward mark in 3rd and then sailed the waves downwind and had better boat speed to move into first and take control from there.
Yentur's assessed their race, saying, "Our starts are bad, as we don't want to risk it and I started the 420 from the Laser where it was easier to start, so I can't do a good start. But we went to the right side with more wind and we didn't have any boats on us so we had clear wind and did well."
The 420 Ladies fleet are now split into a gold fleet of 39 teams and a silver fleet with 38 teams.
420 Ladies -Leaderboard Top 10
1. Carlotta Omari/Francesca Russo Cirillo (ITA) - 12 pts
2. Anna Bettoni/Sofia Carluccio (ITA) - 16 pts
3. Paula Barceló/Margarita Alba (ESP) - 16 pts
4. Kimberly Lim/Savannah Siew (SIN) - 18 pts
5. Annabel Cattermole/Brioin Bennett Yoid (GBR) - 21 pts
6. Ilaria Paternnoster/Di Salle Benedetta (ITA) - 23 pts
7. Sara Scotto Di Vettimo/Vittoria Barbiero (ITA) - 26 pts
8. Jenifer Poret/Lucie Scheiwiller (FRA) - 28 pts
9. Zeynep Yentur/Deniz Gokmeral (TUR) - 29 pts
10. Nadja Horwitz/Carmina Malsch (CHI) - 34 pts