Racing at the 2014 470 Junior World Championships kicked off with a real test of light wind skill and high intensity racing. A skittish breeze played across the race track and a significant 30 degree change of direction between races 1 and 2, saw some teams falter and others take the advantage as they read the breeze better and squeezed every bit of speed out of their boats.
After the thrill of last night's Opening Ceremony, which saw teams parading through the streets of Cervia riding in a fleet of classic convertible cars and waving their national flags to the accompaniement of honking horns, today was all about maintaining focus in the tricky conditions.
Strong 470 European countries like France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Israel, Italy, Poland, Spain and Ukraine are lined-up against teams from Argentina, Australia and Japan who have made the trip to Europe. Home nation Italy is fielding the biggest fleet, with 22 teams across the two Championships. So, this means tough competition for the reigning 470 Junior World Champions as they seek to defend their titles. Restricted to teams who are aged 21 or under in the year of the Championship, the event is a gathering of the world's best young 470 talent, with 69 teams 19 nations and 4 continents competing.
A world class line up of 46 teams are in contention for the 470 Men/Mixed Junior World Championship. Yesterday the French clearly laid down their mission - they want gold. Today, they took the right step to the podium as Guillaume Pirouelle/Valentin Sipan opened their scorecard on track with two solid top 10 places of 5, 6 to take the lead.
Things were looking good for brothers David and Alex Charles (ESP) in race 1, as they charged up the windward leg at the front of the pack, but they were just a bit too early off the start line and opened their series with a disappointing UFD penalty score. A bit more control in race 2 and they held back from the start to recover with a fightback 5th place.
Thomas Klemens/William Llwelyn from Australia won the opening race, but contrasted that with a finish further back in the fleet in race 2, scoring 28th to end the day in 11th overall. A similar mixed up scoreline for Denmark's Balder Tobiasen/Magnus Jung Johansen, who opened with a UFD and then featured some Championship podium potential with a win in race 2.
Superb boat speed was their advantage, as Tobiasen explained, "It was really nice, we had a really bad start and then we caught the wind and we just followed it. The Polish team [Maciej Sapiejka/ Adam Krefft] were really far ahead and we just wanted to catch them, which we did. We just chased them and I think they felt the pressure."
Johansen continued, "We had really good speed today, particularly in the downwind and in one downwind leg we caught up 400 metres to the Polish. It was pretty good."
Another brother partnership, in the form of Fabrice Rigot/Guillaume Rigot from Switzerland, delivered two top 10 results and claim second overall on the leaderboard.
For defending 470 Junior World Champions, Jordi Xammar/Joan Herp (ESP) today was all about delivering to their plan of sailing safe and they knocked out two solid results of 4,9 to finish in third overall, on equal points with the Swiss.
"It was quite difficult as the wind was quite unstable and shifty,"
said Xammar after racing. "The starts were really pushy with everyone wanting a good position, so you have to be careful not to be OCS, especially the first day. Our goal was not to have a discard race on the first day, so we are happy and ready for tomorrow."
470 Men - Top 10 Overall
1. Guillaume Pirouelle/Valentin Sipan (FRA 76) - 11 pts
2. Fabrice Rigot/Guillaume Rigot (SUI 2) - 13 pts
3. Jordi Xammar/Joan Herp (ESP 44) - 13 pts
4. Kristian Chekh/Maxim Cherenkov (RUS 10) - 14 pts
5. Antonis Tsimpoukelis/Vasileios Kontakis (GRE 4) - 21 pts
6. Matteo Pilati/Francesco Rubagotti (ITA 27) - 22 pts
7. Augustin Romero/Fermin Jacobs (ARG 9) - 23 pts
8. Maciej Sapiejka/Adam Krefft (POL 32) - 24 pts
9. Malte Winkel/Matti Cipra (GER 13) - 24 pts
10. Francesco Rebaudi/Pietro Canepa (ITA 99) - 26 pts
A perfect scorecard of double-bullets for defending 470 Women Junior World Champions, Maëlenn Lemaitre/Aloïse Retornaz saw the pair return ashore looking pretty happy.
As expected the battle at the front of the fleet unfolded around the race track between the French and the 2013 470 Junior European Champions Anna Kyselova/Anastasiya Krasko (UKR). The Ukrainians held the advantage in the first upwind leg in both races, before the French reeled them in and swept past to win with Ukraine right behind. For both teams, 2014 marks their last year of competition in the junior age division, so going out with a bang ranks highly.
Lemaitre commented, "We were really close with the Ukraine team and we fought a lot with our tactics and so it is always possible to go faster and pass. This is a technical sport so the speed is very different between the boats and it is just important to go faster. It is really tactical here as we were fighting against one boat today."
But an incident in race 2 saw the Ukrainians in the protest room and disqualified for a port/starboard incident on the startline. So they plummet to 15th overall, but no doubt will bounce back when the series discard kicks in after race 5.
The two teams were in their own personal battle at last year's Junior Worlds and gained a massive points margin over the rest of the fleet, before advancing to the Medal Race with the French guaranteed gold and the Ukrainians silver. The story may turn out differently as racing evolves here in Cervia.
Second on the leaderboard and 11 points behind the French are Great Britain's Jess Lavery/Megan Brickwood from a 3,10 scorecard. At last night's Opening Ceremony, Lavery appropriately selected an elegant British Jaguar convertible as her steed to ride the classic car parade. The pair are amongst the favourites to be in the leading pack with lots of recent experience from racing the senior circuit at ISAF Sailing World Cup events in Palma and Hyères.
Rounding out the top three are Julia Rokosx/Zofia Szabat from Poland with race results of 11,4.
Significant differences in results between races 1 and 2 for many of the teams as they dealt with the really tricky conditions. Interesting to note that in the top 10 there are teams from 10 different nations.
470 Women - Top 10 Overall
1. Maelenn Lemaitre/Aloise Retornaz (FRA 39) - 2 pts
2. Jess Lavery/Megan Brickwood (GBR 838) - 13 pts
3. Julia Rokosz/Zofia Szabat (POL 13) - 15 pts
4. Fabienne Oster/Alexandra Lauber (GER 95) - 15 pts
5. Carmen Davila/Julia Davila (ESP 5) - 16 pts
6. Anna Bettoni/Sofia Carluccio (ITA 88) - 16 pts
7. Jeanine Speelman/Marchien Speelman (NED 75) - 18 pts
8. Yahel Wallach/Stav Brokman (ISR 12) - 20 pts
9. Eva Peternelj/Valentina Baruca (SLO 700) - 21 pts
10. Yuuki Hayashi/Sayaka Kimura (JPN 4353) - 21 pts