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28 July 2008, 10:44 am
Challenging Conditions at 420 Worlds in Athens
Saunders and Steele (NZL)
Thomas Saunders and Chris Steele in Qualifying at the 2008 420 Worlds

Athens, Greece

The record entry of 178 teams from 25 countries across five continents took to the waters of Saronic Gulf for the days of qualifying races that will lead to Gold and Silver fleet , with a maximum of 12 races scheduled over four days starting today (Monday).
The fleets took to the water on Friday with a planned start at midday. However, both Courses suffered from early significant changes in wind direction (260* to 190* on Course A), resulting in early abandonments of races on both. However, Race 1 eventually got underway, and all four group first races were completed in between 50 and 70 minutes each. Race 2 was completed on both Courses with wind speeds of 15 - 18 knots. Course A completed the third race, returning to the shore around 18.00. Course B, the ladies' area, with no O flag, nearly completed Race 3, when a major wind shift (285* - 190*) forced abandonment. The race was re-started for both groups, with the second group sailing with the O flag up. The Ladies' fleet then returned to the shore. The pasta supplied by the Organisers was much needed after so many hours of challenging sailing

The day had seen variations in wind strength from 8 - 24 knots and, at various stages, significant shifts. Several boats suffered significant damage and gear failure, leading to much activity on the boat park in the evening and further calls upon equipment suppliers, sailmakers and the International Measurers.

European champion helm, Eduardo SCOTTI MANCINELLI, who leads on the Worlds course at the end of the first day, said "this was very difficult sailing because of the shifts and the wind strength up and down. Racing is of a very high standard". Ben SAXTON of GBR, in 2nd after five races, confirmed the picture and his crew, David De BOLTZ as he came off the water. In spite of a more problematic last race of the day that brought them to 4th overall, Ben pronounced himself satisfied with progress so far at this qualifying stage. Crew of the leading Greek boat, Akilas DROUGAS, said, "racing was difficult in the conditions; a lot of shifts in the second race. There was very little and then a lot of wind, maybe 25 knots".

Argentine coach, Dr Genarro MAGGI, summed up the days conditions: "This was very difficult sailing. With the wind changes - two shifts of 60* during the day. Both the wind direction and the intensity were changing. So, for the tactician, it was difficult to find the best way and predicting the optimum mast and sail set-up was hard".

Martine GRAEL & Daniela ADLER (BRA) finished the day 2nd overall in the Ladies'. Daniela, veteran of two World championships, said, "it was really strong, then nothing, then major…..major shifts! One race was stopped just on the downwind leg. This is really competitive" Leaders Imke BROCKENHOFF & Annika STORCK (GER) talked (both at once!) as they came off the water about "very big changes with wind shifts and gusts coming that you could not see on the water". Two uncertainties were: "TRIM and TACTICS", said Imke. "You could not have a plan….must be SPONTANEOUS & FLEXIBLE!" responded Annika.

Teresa CUNHA, crew with Ana ROCHA (POR) confirmed the story from the Ladies' course, "the wind was anywhere, from 8 - 25 knots and changing direction. Very tactical, but not easy to choose, so unpredictable"

The remaining qualifier races are due to be completed tomorrow (Saturday), when the fleets will be determined for the Finals, starting on Monday.

Καλ?ς α?ρας στα πανι? σας! Good wind in your sails!

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Tony Mapplebeck
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