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Photoboy
02-09-2016, 03:41 PM
Kiwis and Danes draw first blood in Clearwater.


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Clearwater, Florida. The grey morning sky introduced day one of the 49er and 49er FX 2016 World Championships. Even though the previous 2015 Worlds in Buenos Aires, Argentina was contested less than three months ago, the athletes are approaching this event with as much anticipation and earnest effort as ever before.

With the day slated to begin just before noon, the race committee decided to send out the men first. The breeze was a manageable 14 knots and, with the Nacra 17s also given the go-ahead, the men started rigging up on the beach. The men’s 49er fleet took to the water, sailing from the Clearwater Community Center Beach out through a sometimes treacherous channel. When the wind decides to meet the waves, the result is a battle royale for the 49er fleet.

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With building pressure from a manageable 14 knots to a ripping 18+, the 49er fleet kicked off the first race of their 2016 Worlds. It was a dramatic start in tough conditions. Irish sailors Mathew McGovern and Ryan Seaton were all smiles up until the top mark, but were more cautious downwind. “We were having a blast sailing up until that point. After we rounded, it clearly became dangerous to light it up and go real fast because then there’s a good chance you’ll be swimming. There’s a fine line between being able to heat it up and gain speed, while still playing it safe.”


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Jonas Warrer and Anders Thomsen exemplified how even the most seasoned sailors were struggling with this challenging first race. The Danish pair got around the top mark in 2nd place, but then Warrer went for a bit of impromptu waterskiing on the downwind leg when his trapeze adjuster slipped out of its cleat, dunking the Danish skipper in the water. The 2008 Olympic Champion managed to recover his composure and dignity without capsizing, although he had dropped a few places with the minor mishap.

However, Warrer and Thomsen made amends on the next windward leg, spotting how skewed the course had become after the massive left-hand windshift. “We tacked earlier than some of the other boats in front of us,” said Thomsen. “It doesn’t pay you to overstand the layline in really strong winds, so we came in underneath them and took a few places back.” They then held off from hoisting the spinnaker straightaway on the final run to the finish, sailing high before getting the kite up and blasting across the line in first place. The 2015 World Champions, Burling and Tuke, also charged through to win their half of the qualifying fleet, putting Denmark and New Zealand in an early tie for first. Rounding out the tie for third is Great Britain’s Pink/Bithell and France’s D’Ortoli/Delpech.

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Over the course of the race, the pressure consistently mounted. The fleet just about made it across the finish line in one piece, it wasn’t long before the race committee made the call to cancel the second start and send the racers in for an onshore postponement. The FX women waited on shore, keeping tabs on the building pressure. More and more, the women’s FX fleet are erring on the side of caution, mindful of just how easy it is to break a mast in the shallow waters of Clearwater. Look up through the boat park and you may just find a beach ball or colorful flotation device taped securely to a top mast. These women know that capsizing in these conditions is a very likely possibility, so the old adage: better safe than sorry, seems like a good idea when it comes to break a mast, or not to break a mast. As the sailors made their way from the course back into the channel they learned early in the regatta that by dropping their mainsails they avoided capsizing in the treacherous channel. The opening to the channel leading into the racing area is particularly shallow, and shallow waters are the 49er’s ultimate enemy. A total of six masts were snapped after today’s boat-breaking conditions.

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The women are scheduled to start racing at 11am tomorrow EST. Weather reports seem to appear a bit lighter for tomorrow, although it’s unlikely we’ve seen the last of the big breeze this week.


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Big shifts and big breeze blasts besson to Victory.

It was a big and blustery opening race that kicked off the Nacra 17 World Championships today in Clearwater, Florida. The first race started in a fairly benign 11-12 knots, although the 43 crews probably had an inkling that something big was going to happen when the breeze suddenly shifted 30 or 40 degrees to the left with less than a minute to the start gun.

This played nicely into the hands of the defending World Champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA) who had been fighting hard for position at the left-hand of the start line. The French put the hammer down out of the line and tacked on to the layline for the top mark, and they never relinquished the lead. Somehow, even with the big wind shift, a number of the usual suspects still found their way to the front of the pack, with the Swiss team of Matías Bühler and Nathalie Brugger chasing the French around the track, coming in second ahead of the Spanish pair of Iker Martinez and Julia Rita.

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As the race progressed, the breeze built and built, with the shallow waters of Clearwater kicking up a vicious, steep chop. This created perfect conditions for high-speed pitchpoling and it caught out a number of teams including the top Kiwi crew of Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders who came a cropper towards the bottom gate. “It’s a shame because we like the big breeze normally,” said Jones. “But we fell in twice today. Not good.” The capsizes dropped the New Zealand duo out of the front pack and back to 25th at the finish.

The Australian team of Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin were one of a number of crews who had come down to the boatpark this morning to discover that some of their kit had either been damaged or disappeared altogether. Stormy winds and a high tide had washed the water high up the beach, with a few boats actually afloat on the shallow sands. Some teams’ sails were buried below the sand, there was damage to some hulls, but for the Aussies their sail and equipment box had floated away completely. Fortunately it showed up in a marina further down the coast and Waterhouse was able to use his waterlogged equipment to notch up a 4th place finish.


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With the breeze whistling up to over 20 knots, and the waves becoming more treacherous by the minute, the race committee was forced to abandon any further racing for the day. So only one race complete, and even then the results remain in doubt after some teams have submitted protest forms claiming that most of the fleet failed to go around the spacer mark at the top of the second windward leg.

The race committee had moved the windward mark to take account of the big wind shift, but most of the sailors failed to see the small spacer mark that had been situated nearby and assumed that there was no space mark at all. One coach commented: “The only reason why some of the boats towards the back of the fleet went round the spacer mark was because they couldn’t bear away properly.” The implication being that it was only boat handling incompetence that led to some boats going around the spacer mark by happy accident.

Tomorrow’s forecast promises more moderate and manageable breezes, and the sailors will be hoping they will be able to catch up on the schedule and get some solid scores on the board.


Qualifying from the 9-11th of February. Silver and Gold fleet racing from the 12-14th with the Medal races on the 14th. The main hub of information will on www.49er.org

El Capitan
02-11-2016, 08:32 AM
Who's keeping tabs on broken masts?

Photoboy
02-11-2016, 09:04 AM
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Smashing Conditions for 49erFX

By Katy Nastro

Clearwater, FL. Day two of the 2016 World Championships appeared sunny, with a chance of another windy day. The FX girls were proposed to go out at 11 am, but were held for a bit on shore

due to that same old windy/wave sea state that sent the boys packing the day before.


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FX

And they’re off! The girls FX Sailors were sent out for the first race of the day in a breezy 16 knots. The women made it out to their designated race courses in similar wavy conditions to the day before. The competitors were ready and raring to go with the first warning blown, but with the breeze building to 18+ at times, the race committee made an executive decision to put up the postponement flag and send the sailors in. Kahena Kunze of Brazil noted, “We were definitely able to sail, but I think the race committee made the right decision to not start the race. It could have been bad otherwise.” Postponement came down at 2:15pm and the women were then sent back out to try, try again.

The second go at it amounted to only one race being sailed for the ladies. The afternoon breeze came down slightly – enabling the fleet on each course a decent start. Compared with the conditions earlier in the day, most sailors felt the morning was definitely the lesser of two evils. Jena Mai Hansen and Katija Salskov-Iverson started the race with confidence and then noticed after the first upwind leg the breeze was building. On their downwind, they were able to sail deep, but after capsizing they realized sailing cautiously was better than falling to the inevitable reality of skiff sailing in waves. “We got fifth, and we capsized on the first downwind. We thought we were being a little too aggressive, then [after the capsize] we said ‘Okay we need to get into safe mode here,’ and we actually managed to do fine. There was so much weed though, so it was really hard to get around. It affected our steering a lot so it made it hard to jibe.”


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The Danish pair was in third going into the top mark, but after their capsize they fought against the fleet to make an impressive comeback finishing fifth on the Blue course. Jena and Katija recently finished 4th at the 2015 Worlds and are competing in this event against two other strong Danish teams for the right to represent their country at the Olympics.

Many of the top FX boats came barreling into the finish leaving the scores a close call. Dutch sailors Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz had the best performance of the day on the Yellow course, keeping their wits about them to be able to sail into first.

The German team of Leonie Meyer and Elena Stoffers charged in at similar pace, placing second overall. Both the Netherlands and Germany are using this regatta to help finalize their selections for the Rio games. Australia’s Tess Lloyd and Caitlin Elks cruised into third, with Erin Rafuse and Danielle Boyd of Canada swiftly after.

The Canadian compatriots had a bit more of an adventure, “We were fourth at the second windward leg, then hit a forest of trees at the top mark. We had no speed going into a tack because of the weeds and so we ended up capsizing, de-weeding, then had to like come back up to the mark because we had drifted so low,” said Arielle Morgan in a shivering wet state. They were able to make gains downwind reeling in some of the positions lost.

On the Blue course, Maiken Foght Schutt and Anne-Julie Schutt sailed their way into first with the Spanish veterans Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos very close behind. “It was really hard to try to ride the waves, but we were happy with the result because we found in this race you just have to survive. So now, we finally start the Worlds!”

Berta Betanzos is a World Champion in the 470 class, while her crew Tamara is an Olympic gold medalist in the Elliot class. They recently finished 6th at the 2015 World Championships. Next came the top British boat of Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth, along with New Zealand’s Erica Dawson and Ellie Copeland who were not present at the 2015 Worlds, but recently finished 19th at the Miami Sailing World Cup.

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49er

The gentlemen trickled into the boat park with hesitation as they had a bit of a feeling the breeze would not cooperate for the ladies. Postponed on shore until 3:30pm, the sailors reached the opening of the channel to find the FX sailors cruising in marking the end of Day 2.

An atypical winter for the Clearwater area, although the conditions we’ve seen in the last two days are sometimes characteristic of this venue. Day 3 will begin bright and early in the hope of giving the sailors more time out on the water to conclude their qualifying round.



Qualifying from the 9-11th of February. Silver and Gold fleet racing from the 12-14th with the Medal races on the 14th. The main hub of information will on www.49er.org

Live broadcast: 
49er, 49erFX Day 4 Gold Fleet: 12:00 – https://youtu.be/ue_3hkDFiLQ 
49er, 49erFX Day 5 Gold Fleet: 12:00
- https://youtu.be/w5B79pCufCg 
49er, 49erFX Nacra Medal Race: 10:00
- https://youtu.be/MS8v-aQJaHI 
49er, 49erFX Medal Race: 15:00
- https://youtu.be/YFRXn7Jega0

Prince of Whales
02-11-2016, 09:33 AM
Who's keeping tabs on broken masts?


I think I read somewhere about 40 thus far, but can't find the source just now.

Photoboy
02-12-2016, 09:07 AM
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Third Day's A Charm
Clearwater, FL. Day three of the 2016 World Championships in Clearwater, FL kicked off with a sunny, 4-8 knot variance giving everyone a sigh of relief and readiness. A beautifully clear Floridian day means: the Worlds hasreally begun!

49er

The fleet rigged up and got after it early launching to make a 10am start. The breeze dropped quite a bit, but after one general recall, the fleets were able to begin their day. One race was sailed in a slowly dying 5-7 knots, but unfortunately a handful of the back marker were unable to finish within the time limit in the decaying pressure. Almost two hours later and the 49er gods finally answered the RC’s prayers. A building sea breeze allowed the boys to sail three more races getting a total of four in before the ladies were sent out to reap the same wind benefits.

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Burling and Tuke had once again a strong performance on the Yellow course, getting straight bullets, absolutely slaughtering competition. The boys were able to switch gears effortlessly between conditions. “Four straight bullets in one day, don’t think we ever have done that before, ” humbly remarked Blair Tuke. Both boys had some minor injuries from yesterdays blustery day, but from the looks of the results it would take a lot to stop these two! The closest competitor from these two is none other than Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, their worthy Aussie opponent. Outteridge and Jensen sailed impressively consistent all day, yet the scoring showed their second race of the day as DNF. Outteridge and Jensen went straight to RC to fix this little issue, as they actually won that particular race. Ten points from the Kiwi’s, these two boats haven’t competed on the same course yet, but they already seem to be throwing down the gauntlet.

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John Pink and Stuart Bithel of team GBR have come out of the gate swinging. With the lowest score of the day being a 6th, these two consistently sailed their own race and were able to nab two 6th’s, a 5th, and a 2nd. The other top British boat of Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Alain Sign are also having quite the start sitting just three points behind Pink & Bithel. The British selection committee keeps things pretty well wrapped, but these two boats are definitely feeling the heat from one another’s performances early on. “I think the pressures on the other guys. We are just focusing on our results and I guess we’ll just see how it comes out getting to the end of the week,” says Alain Sign, cool as a cucumber.


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Also on the Blue course with the Aussies, the French lead the pack with Julien D’ortoli and Noe Delpech sitting top of the pack after race two, but a 7th gave these two a bigger gap from the Aussies. D’ortoli and Delpech gave a consistent top 7 performance throughout the four races leaving them sitting thirteen points out of first overall. Julien notes, “For us to switch modes [from yesterday’s conditions] we try to re-focus. In strong winds, you just have to think about the speed, and the technique. Then in no wind its just, you think about which side, which start, it’s just a really different mode.” The French selection is also quite coy when it comes to selections as the sailors won’t know who goes until the beginning of March, nor what regattas and performances they based their selection off of.

Tomasz Januszewski and Jacek Nowak didn’t have the best performance in the 2015 Worlds in Argentina, but they surely are starting out this 2016 Worlds on a better note. Currently sitting seventh overall (third for the Yellow course) Jacek is pleased with the way they’ve started their World Championship. “We are happy with the way we’ve started this regatta, in those locations, even if we had a bad start in the last race. Being on the right side of the last start was not the way to go. We are not calculating, but I know we are in a good position.”

Carlos Paz Blanco and Anton Paz of Spain have started their Worlds on the Yellow course and seem to be the comeback kids for Spanish sailing. The pair qualified Spain in Santander during the 2014 Worlds, but haven’t been exactly hitting the same top performances as the Alonsos, and Diego Botin/Iago Lopez Marra. The Alonso’s have a chance at taking the Spanish berth during this event by finishing in top eight to steal the show. The other two Spanish teams need to place within the top eight, or else the fight is terminado, aka all over. “Right now we need to focus on medal race, and then in the medal race try to take a look at the points to see if we need to push more or its enough, ” says Anton. The brothers were pretty consistent until the third race of the day. Carlos makes note of the difficult conditions by stating, “The third one was really difficult for us; we made a bad decision at the start, but that was our throwout. The last one [fourth race of the day] we got pretty lucky. The right was really right, and we got a second, so we’re pretty happy. Have to try to keep that up.”


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49er FX

49erFX sailors had a postponement on shore until mid-afternoon, allowing the guys a bit of extra time to get some more racing in before the old switch-a-roo. The ladies were sent out at about 2pm for a 3pm start. The women were able to tune up and get their sea legs back after a wet and wild day. Wild this day was not, as the women had feel good FX conditions, flatter water and manageable breeze. Yay! The ladies were all smiles, and slightly less frozen than the previous day due to quick, efficient racing.

Swedish team Julia Gross and Cecilia Jonsson felt their day was up and down, but were pleased with getting four races in after a hard initial start to this 2016 Worlds. The team took a bit of dip in their scores when they took a 15th in the second race for the day. They felt even though this was the downer, the bullet at the end made up for the trickier conditions. “Everyone was up and down, but we had everyone behind us in the last race, so that felt pretty good.” Ending on a high, great job girls!

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German sailors Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz are taking their FX fleet by the reigns and completely taking control. The pair didn't falter even as the breeze did vary several knots from the time the FX sailors got out to the courses to until the wee hours of daylight they had to left to sail in. Two bullets to start the day, and then a 2nd and 5th to round out their epic start to this World Championship. There are three other German teams competing during this event. This regatta will be used to helpdetermine selection. It may be chilly down in Clearwater, but the heat is on for the German FX girls.

Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth of team GBR also had a fiery day taking fourth place overall. The pair had a shaky start as they pulled a 19th to begin with. The two, although disappointed, are known for shaking it off and “putting on their Jagger pants,” as the girls said back in Argentina. “We just approached every race as if it was a new day. New race equals new opportunity,” replied Sophie Ainsworth after being asked how they approached the next set of races, winning them a bullet in race three of their set.

Rounding out the top five are 2014 World Champions Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze in fifth, along with recent Miami World Cup Champions Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech in fourth.

The racing will continue here in Clearwater tomorrow starting with the ladies at noon. Tomorrow we will also be broadcasting live via Youtube, so CHECK IT OUT!!

Qualifying from the 9-11th of February. Silver and Gold fleet racing from the 12-14th with the Medal races on the 14th. The main hub of information will on www.49er.org

Press Release: Katy Nastro
Photo Credits: Jen Edney/Edney AP

Photoboy
02-13-2016, 10:59 AM
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13.02.2016 by eliza murray


New Zealand sailing fans have reason to be doubly happy at the end of day four of the 49er and 49erFX World Championships, with Kiwi teams topping the table in both men’s and women’s divisions.

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The 2013 49erFX World Champions, Alex Maloney and Molly Meech, look to have rediscovered their world-beating form in recent weeks, winning the warm-up regatta in Miami earlier in the month and now taking the lead after a strong performance in moderate south-westerly breezes off Clearwater Beach.

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Scores of 3,1,10 have put the New Zealanders 3 points ahead of previous series leaders, Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz of Germany. Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze also sailed a great day, notching up 1,8,1 to sit in 3rd overall. But the best day went to the Spanish team of Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos who won all three of their heats in the blue division of qualifying, rocketing the London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Echegoyen up to 4th overall. The drama unfolded live from Clearwater Beach all day, here is the replay.

Meanwhile in the men’s 49er fleet, no surprises to report that Pete Burling and Blair Tuke continue to dominate the racing, although the triple World Champions did ruin their unbroken run of bullets with a slightly less perfect scoreline of 3,1,2,11 from today’s four qualifying heats. Discarding the final race 11th, the unstoppable Kiwis have stretched their lead to 28 points over arch rivals, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen who sit in 2nd overall.

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The live TV coverage showed that even Burling and Tuke occasionally make tactical mistakes, and they were lucky that the Irish team of Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern waved them on in a tight port-starboard situation. “Yeah, maybe,” smiled Tuke, “but we let them off the hook on a port-starboard in the last race at the top mark. And they tacked on our face, so I reckon they owe us one.”

McGovern didn’t deny it. “We train with the Kiwi boys quite a bit, so we like to show them up a bit when we get the chance,” he laughed. It was a good day for the Irish too, winning a race and coming 4th in the next, moving them up to 9th overall.

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Outteridge and Jensen were racing on the opposite side of the qualifying draw, and just like the TV course that Burling was competing on, the key to success was all about getting a great start and being able to hit the left-hand side of the track, sometimes sailing within metres of the breaking surf near to the spectators and sun worshippers enjoying the white sand and blue skies that lit up Clearwater Beach today. “The start was critical, and hoping you didn’t take any bad waves as you came out of the start, or that you had enough space to leeward to be able to put the bow down and accelerate,” said Jensen. Tomorrow the reigning Olympic Champions get their chance to line up against the reigning World Champions for first time this week, as Gold Fleet finals get underway.


For many, this is a critical moment in their Olympic selection trials, and for the Spanish in particular. The Alonso brothers finished 3rd at the 2015 World Championships in Argentina, setting their rivals a tough target. But scores of 4,2,3,9 lift the young crew of Diego Botín and Iago López Marra to 3rd overall, putting them in a great position to challenge the experienced Alonsos for selection. “We are very happy with today,” said López Marra. “The target is to finish inside the top 8 and to beat the points score of the Alonsos. The interesting thing about this venue is that every day is different, and it is producing a really good test of all-round sailing ability.”


While the Alonso brothers have a struggle for selection, another veteran team from Austria, Niko delle Karth and Niko Resch, sit in 4th overall and are looking very likely to be sailing at their fourth successive Olympic Games in Rio this summer. They narrowly missed out on a bronze medal at London 2012, which is part of the motivation for still sailing in 2016. “But also we just love what we do,” said delle Karth. “We have sailed together for a long time and we really look forward to racing together again at Rio

Other big performances came from the young Italian teams and from David Gilmour and Lewis Brake who started the day in 49th overall and with slim hopes of making the top 25 cut for Gold Fleet. But the young Aussies put the hammer down and with scores of 1,4,4,13 they have surged up to 17th overall and live to fight another day, against the world’s best. Join for the live broadcast tomorrow and watch for yourself!

With so much riding on this week and the need to make it into Gold fleet, there were a flurry of last-minute protests as teams fought by any means necessary to get their way into the top 25. One of the best FX teams, Ida Nielsen and Marie Olsen, were fighting to stay in contention after picking up two OCS disqualifications yesterday for breaking the start gun too soon. Scores of 3,18,3 have scraped the Danes into 22nd overall, enough for the bottom end of Gold Fleet. But they still have a mountain to climb if they’re to challenge the other Danish crews in 8th and 11th overall, as they enter the final two days of their selection trials.


To find out if Nielsen and Olsen can fight their way back up the rankings, and for all the other dramas and battles in play at the 49er Worlds, tune into tomorrow’s live TV coverage starting at 12pm local time (Eastern Standard Time).

49er Results (http://49er.org/event/2016-world-championship/?event_id=5482)

49er FX Results (http://49er.org/event/2016-world-championship/?event_id=5482)