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2019 420 World Championship - Preview

by International 420 Class Association 6 Jul 11:08 BST 6-11 July 2019
Japan and Great Britain test the waters during the 420 World Championship practice race © Osga - João Ferreira

On Saturday 6 July, the first of 12 scheduled races for the 456 sailors competing at the 2019 420 Open, Women and U17 World Championship in Vilamoura, Portugal gets under way.

Multiple teams are hoping to light up the race track, in a fleet packed with classy champions, including numerous World Champions, national Champions and World Sailing Youth World medallists featuring in the mix, alongside debut appearances from a new generation who have moved into the class.

Racing will take place across the Open, Women and U17 divisions, with all fleets split into yellow and blue for the 6 race qualifying series from 6-8 July, with re-seeding at the end of each of the first 3 race days. Once qualification is complete, from 9-11 July the fleets will split into gold and silver and escalate the battle for podium slots in the final 6 race showdown. Racing takes place across two course areas, with race 1 of the 420 Worlds scheduled to get under way at1400 hours for the 420 Women yellow and 420 Men yellow on Saturday 6 July, with subsequent starts for the Women blue, Men blue and U17 yellow and blue fleets. Two races are planned for all fleets on Saturday.

Hoping for a repeat of last year's 420 World Championship win in the Open fleet are Seb Menzies/Blake McGlashan from New Zealand, who will also be facing their 2018 bronze medal rivals, Martin Wizner/Pedro Ameneiro of Spain whose other claim to fame is as reigning 420 Junior European Champions.

"We are just coming here to do our best," said Seb Menzies. "We are not putting any expectations on ourselves, because it's more pressure."

Blake chipped in adding, "It is pretty similar to last year, and we must not put internal pressure on ourselves and must ignore all the external influences."

Since their 2018 golds, the Aussie partnership has cleaned up at some big regattas on home waters, including more gold medals at the New Zealand 420 National Championship, Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta, Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Championships and Sir Peter Blake Regatta. The pair also won the warm-up regatta here in Vilamoura last week, so predictably all eyes will be on this partnership. Well up in contention will be Germany's Jonathan Steidle/Leonardo Honold, who last Sunday won the inaugural EUROSAF 420 Race Circuit after demonstrating epic consistency across multiple events. Other reigning Continental Championship title holders in the mix include 420 South American Champions Bernardo Peixoto/Marcos Arndt of Brazil, who also won the Brazilian Youth Cup earlier this year.

Keeping it in the family is certainly the mission for Great Britain's father and son pairing of Harry George/James George who also represent the youngest and oldest sailors competing here at the 420 Worlds.

"This is my first World Championship," smiled eleven year old Harry who is helming his 43 year old father. "The atmosphere is lovely, sailing every day and it is really sunny. There is some tough competitIon in the Open fleet, and we are hoping for a top-half finish as our goal."

The 420 Open fleet packs a punch with 178 sailors from 19 countries competing. Front of fleet finishes will not be easy in this super talented fleet, and Saturday's opening day is set to feature a light breeze day in the morning, with a 14 knot sea breeze filling in around 1500 hours and gusts up to around 16 knots.

A line-up of 73 teams representing 18 nations are in contention in the 420 Women fleet, with plenty of names to watch. Certain to be challenging up front are Great Britain's Vita Heathcote/Emilia Boyle (GBR) who won the RYA British Youth National Championship women title earlier this year and last year picked up silver at the World Sailing Youth Championships.

They are joined by a multitude of talent, with plenty of reigning National Champions from around the world, including Nicola Ferguson/Fiona Ferguson (IRL). Switzerland's Natascha Rast/Samira Rast have been criss-crossing Europe in recent months and racked up impressive results, including wins at the President Cup in Poland, and top placed women at the Swiss Points race series. Last year, Greece's Melina Pappa/Maria Tsamopoulou put in an outstanding performance to finish in silver medal position in the U17 420 Women fleet, and this year shift over to senior fleet racing.

A debut appearance at a 420 Worlds for Thailand's Chanokchon Wangsuk/Piyaporn Khemkaew, who are here with U17 team mates Jedtavee Yongyuennarn/Chakkaphat Wiriyakitti.

"We are excited to be here and we enjoy the sailing conditions," said Wangsuk. They aptly described their goal here as 'to make waves'."

In the U17 fleet we welcome plenty of new teams amongst the 67 boat entry to the race track, including South Africa's Matt Ashwell/Rivaldo Arendse and Hong Kong's Duncan Gregor/Matthew Clark. Ashwell knocked out a powerful performance to win the 2018 Optimist African Championship and from that was scouted and invited to the 420 Worlds. Gregor/Clark picked up silver earlier this year at Hong Kong Race Week, and interestingly Gregor's elder brother Callum won silver at the 2015 420 Worlds in Japan.

"We want to get the most experience possible and learn as much as we can," said Gregor. "It is a nice venue, the atmosphere is good and the sailing is nice here. We have been here for a week and a half getting used to the conditions."

Portugal fields the biggest entry line-up, a right accorded as host nation, with 14 teams in the 420 Open, 8 in the Women fleets, and 6 in the U17. Big names in the host nation's team include recently crowned Portuguese National Junior Champions Luia Niza/Paulo Baptista, and amongst the favourites in the women are Beatriz Gago/Marta Fortunato who have been top placed women's team at numerous events this season, and step up to racing in the women's fleet from the U17 they contested last year.

Competing nations are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA.

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