The gap between the first and fourth position in the Star class (23 entries) is only three points, with the Swiss Olympians Flavio MARAZZI and Enrico DE MARIA (fourth in Athens) leading. They finished sixth and took the bullet in the last race, in which the breeze dropped to 5-8 knots.
DE MARIA explained, "It was difficult to find good pressure. In the first half of the race, the whole fleet stayed close together and in the second beat some teams went extremely left and others tried their luck in the middle." The Swiss sailors were leading and went initially to the right to cover on the Italians Diego NEGRI and Luigi VIALE and the Dutchmen Sander JORISSEN and Erik VELDHUIZEN. DA MARIA continued, "The pressure came from the left, so we tacked." They managed to remain in the lead and finished first. According to MARAZZI, the Delta Lloyd Regatta so far has been a good training for China: "We had choppy waves and light conditions, so that is perfect."
Hamish PEPPER and Carl WILLIAMS from New Zealand are second overall, followed by the Brazilians Robert SCHEIDT and Bruno PRADA with just one point difference. The current World Champions Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ and Dominik ZYCKI (POL) had the best results of the day with a second and fourth.
Dutch Lead Yngling Fleet
Despite the Dutch Yngling selection process within the national team of three boats, it was former Olympian Annelies THIES (fourth in Athens) and her crew members who scored the best results of the day. THIES, Elisabeth WIERENGA and Caroline HEEREMA climbed to a seventh position overall after finishing 3,5,4. However it's another of the Dutch trios - Mandy MULDER, Marije FABER and Merel WITTEVEEN - who hols the overall lead, but had an issue with the French girls at the gate in the first race. The Dutch Yngling got disqualified, but made up for it by winning the next race. Dutch coach PAARDENKOOPER explained, "It was obvious that our racing style fits this type of conditions with unsmooth water and a light breeze."
The Norwegian team of Siren SUNDBY, 2004 Olympic Champion in the Europe, Lise Birgitte FREDRIKSEN and Alexandra KOEFOED hold second overall, followed by overnight leaders Ulrike SCHUEMANN, Julia BLECK and Ute HOEPFNER (GER).
It was a long afternoon for the Tornado sailors. The first two races were abandoned due to exceeding the time limit. The breeze was too light to reach the top mark in time. At 17:00, the third starting gun was fired and this attempt succeeded. Britain's Leigh MCMILLAN and Will HOWDEN took the bullet and grabbed the lead. Not for long though, because the current World Champions Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY (AUS) showed once again that consistency pays. They finished second, which lifted them to a first position overall. The Frenchmen Xavier REVIL and Christophe ESPAGNON are third.
The fleet of 45 colourful 49er gennakers on the run was a beautiful view. The 49er crews showed some close racing in Thursday's three races. The Portuguese crew of Jorge LIMA and Francisco ANDRADE had the best score of the day with a series of 3,8,1. They climbed up the leaderboard to a second position overall, tied on points (33) with the British duo Stevie MORRISON and Ben RHODES. Italians brothers Pietro SIBELLO and Gianfranco SIBELLO take over the lead with 19 points. Wednesday's leaders Jonas WARRER and Martin KIRKETERP from Denmark dropped fifth overall.
Steady Leaders In 470
"We like these conditions", said 470 helmsman Nicolas CHARBONNIER. He and his crew Olivier BAUSSET, representing France, have a comfortable lead of 17 points after five races. After a 16th place in the morning, the Frenchmen took the last two bullets.
"We feel really confident in tactics and boat speed under 15 knots", explained CHARBONNIER. "In the first race we made a bad decision just 200 metres before the upwind mark. We let the Americans cross to the right and they were far ahead of us."
The French answer to this disappointing result was two wins. "We had a bad last start on the middle of the line and had to tack. We got a lift and went to the right, whereas most of the fleet sailed on starboard tack. The wind came back and we were leading from the first top mark until the finish," CHARBONNIER said.
The current leaders in the Men's 470 fleet will represent their country in Beijing, which will be their Olympic debut. CHARBONNIER explained his background in the class, "I started to sail the 470 in 2000 and changed crews in 2002. I asked Olivier, who is a good friend of mine. He finished his study biology and I was on the French team in the America's Cup, so we started again in 2005 and fulltime since November 2006."
In the women's fleet, Giulia CONTI and Giovanna MICOL (ITA), the world #1 in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, sailed steadily to hit the top with a series of 4,2,7. They have a lead of five points over the fleet of 28 competitors. MICOL explained, "The wind was shifty and the racing very close, but we had a good day." The Italian girls have performed strongly in the last few months. "We were second at the 2008 Worlds and second at the 2007 Europeans, so in August we qualified for Beijing. Now, we are training and testing," MICOL added.
Laser Fleet Getting Tighter
The Laser is, with 117 entries, by far the biggest class in the Delta Lloyd Regatta. After two racing days, the spread between the first and third position is only one point. Tom SLINGSBY (AUS), world #1 in the ISAF Rankings, led until the last race in which he finished tenth.
"There was no wind anymore and the water surface was completely glass. The Race Committee decided to continue and things did not go my way," the young Australian explained. The 2008 and 2007 World Champion and last year's winner in Medemblik said the quality of fleet made any mistakes very difficult to recover from. "There is plenty of strength in the fleet. If you are back in the pack, it is quite hard to come back," he said.
Vasilij ZBOGAR (SLO) had a six point overall lead on Wednesday, and although he initially dropped on the leaderboard, climbed again to lead overall after finishing third in the final race. Tonci STIPANOVIC (CRO) is third, tied on points (18) with SLINGSBY.
Amongst the Laser Radial fleet, Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) lost her lead to Gintare VOLUNGEVICIUTE (LTU), who performed strongly with two bullets and a second.
Dutchman Dorian VAN RIJSSELBERGE had to give up on his lead in the Men's RS:X class after Thursday's racing. He started with a fifth place, but lost the battle in the second race in which he finished 20th. Thanks to the discard, he could hang on to a second position behind Julien BONTEMPS from France. In the women's fleet, Marina ALABAU (ESP) is still heading for an overall victory. Gasper VINCEC (SLO) also continues to look strong at the top of the Finn fleet.
Besides from title sponsor Delta Lloyd, the regatta 2008 is also sponsored by Volvo Cars Netherlands, Infotec, Provincie Noord-Holland, AD Sportwereld Pro, Heuvelman Sound & Vision, WeerOnline, Spa mineral water and ARMA Verhuur.
Delta Lloyd Regatta - www.deltalloydregatta.org