Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) did everything they needed to position themselves in first on the leaderboard by winning race 4, so opted not to sail race 5 and headed back to shore. They advance to the final stage of racing with an optimum 0 point carry forward scoreline, as they seek to extend their run of event victories and achieve their first World Championship title together.
Second placed Pierre Leboucher and Nicolas Le Berre (FRA) are amongst the many renowned French 470 sailors in the fleet, and the hopes of French sailing are stacked in favour of this pair to be amongst the medallists come Saturday. Leboucher finished with the silver medal at the 2012 470 Worlds and represented France at the 2012 Olympics with his former crew. Also pushing up the leaderboard today are the 2013 470 European Champions Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion who move up to fourth from eighth.
Le Berre was in some pain last week due to a knee injury which made it doubtful whether the pair would be able to race. "We are happy because I was injured last week and it is good satisfaction for me to be here and have such a good beginning to the series," he said. "Yesterday was perfect conditions for 470, with planning upwind and 15 knots was great for us," Le Berre explained. "Today there is less wind, but it has been really interesting for strategy and tactics. We had a good time on the water."
Despite being a bit further back on the leaderboard, the team of the day award goes to Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente (ARG), the 2012 Olympic bronze medallists who converted their lowly 54th place on the leaderboard going into the day to 14th on the leaderboard with two second place finishes.
"Yesterday was not a good day for us," commented de la Fuente. "Today, we had to two top fifteen results to make it through to the gold, so we are pretty happy. We now go to the finals, and with 7 races it is a long way to go still. Today was around 10 knots, so everyone was really racing close, but we managed to round the first upwind mark in the top 5 in both races and from then it was pretty clear for us."
Similar to several teams, they have just returned from a training session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and arrived in La Rochelle only a few days ahead of the Championship.
The top 39 boats on the leaderboard advance to the gold fleet and are in contention for the podium places, with 39 teams in each of the silver and bronze fleets.
470 Men - Top 5 Overall
1. Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) - 2 pts
2. Pierre Leboucher and Nicolas Le Berre (FRA) - 8 pts
3. Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Willcox (NZL) - 9 pts
4. Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion (FRA) - 10 pts
5. Nicholas Rogers and Elliot Willis (GBR) - 12pts
The 470 European Champions, Camille Lecointre and Mathilde Geron from France, have moved into the overall lead and will carry forward a bonus 0 point scorecard into the finals stage which gets underway tomorrow.
Just behind them and advancing to the final stage with a two point position are China's Xiaomei Xu and Chunyan Yu who finished in seventh and first. This team were absent from the international racing scene after losing out on selection to represent China at the Olympics, returning with impressive form in January to finish in third at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami and following up with a fifth at ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma.
Their training mainly takes place in China, and so far they are blasting the competition in La Rochelle. "Our performance is as a result of our continued training," explained Xu. "Our focus is totally on the starting line, to watch the conditions, wind speed, shifts and we focus to get a good start." Practice makes perfect, and this pair delivered in race 5 leading the fleet from start to finish.
Defending World Champions Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark from Great Britain are in third overall and wrapped up their qualification stage with a win in the yellow fleet. Wednesday's first day of finals will be the first time they come face to face with the series leaders Lecointre and Geron, and with the top 27 women's teams up against each other from tomorrow onwards, expect a few leaderboard shifts.
Sarah Cook, the 2012 Olympic rower who has jumped to sailing in partnership with 2008 Olympic gold medal helm Elise Rechichi from Australia, scored her first ever race win, which had a broad beam on her face. "I guess it is good to know we have the speed and have some good skills and can start to get a gauge of how far we have come in the last 9 months, since I changed over from rowing," said Cook. "It is good confirmation for us that we are on the right track and we are happy to be through to gold fleet."
The pair have trained hard since the 470 Europeans which took place in Italy in mid-July, including onsite training in La Rochelle over the past three weeks. "We have improved massively since Formia," continued Cook. "I think for me now I have a good handle on most of the tasks and what we are trying to achieve at certain moments, so that was the key to get my confidence up so that I would know what we are trying to achieve on every point of the course. As it turns out, my feel has been relatively good from the get go, so to now get the results is really exciting for us." The team advance through to the finals stage in 12th on the leaderboard.
470 Women - Top 5 Overall
1. Camille Lecointre and Mathilde Geron (FRA) - 3 pts
2. Xiaomei Xu and Chunyan Yu (CHN) - 6 pts
3. Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR) - 9 pts
4. Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (NZL) - 10 pts
5. Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) - 13 pts
Racing is scheduled to start at 14:00 on Wednesday 7 August.
The Championship format splits the 470 Men into three fleets and the Women in two, to race the qualification stage of five races over two days, with one discard. After the qualifying stage, the 470 Men teams will be split into gold, silver and bronze fleets, based on their position on the leaderboard, and carry forward (C/F) their leaderboard position into the finals stage of 7 races over three race days. A second discard will be allowed during the finals stage, but not the C/F score.
Scoring is 0 points for 1st, 2 points for 2nd and so on during the qualification and finals stage. The top 8 in each fleet will then proceed to the medal stage on Saturday 10 August for a single Medal Race with a double points score, where 1st equals 2 points, 2nd equals 4 points and so on.