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Tokyo2020 - Day 2 - Snakes and Ladders on Sagami Bay

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World 26 Jul 2021 13:58 BST 27 July 2021
Tokyo2020 - Day 2 - July, 26, - Enoshima, Japan. Line judges at the start of the Laser fleet - Race 2 © Richard Gladwell - Sail-World.com / Photosport

In contrast to the opening day, Day 2 of the Tokyo2020 Olympic Regatta was conducted under grey skies, possibly signalling the arrival of tropical storm Nepartak, in the coming days.

While the typhoon warnings, of rain, more than wind, have triggered the re-scheduling of events in Rowing and Archery, a good dollop of breeze would be more than welcome at the Olympic Regatta, being sailed on six courses set off the island of Enoshima.

The breeze has certainly been up and down, with breezes down to the minimum level for a race start, and then later there are whitecaps on the course.

However as we have seen from the photoboat, there is a lot of tide running in places on the course, with tidal over-fall conditions appearing in some parts of the course.

Looking upwind, from the bottom mark, the usual sight is to see a fleet spread from corner to corner of the course and it is not surprising to see that most of the top competitors already have a double digit placing in their scorecard.

Sam Meech (NZL) explained how it looked on the water to Yachting NZ.

"Some of the guys are making it (the windshifts and tide) look pretty easy. A couple of guys getting in the right hand side (of the Stadium course) make it look easy, but the two times I went out to the right it didn't look too good, and I was nervous about going there a third time."

Meech says his primary issue is not finding the rhythmn of when to tack on the shifts in the offshore breeze. "Some people are able to get the flow of things a bit easier. For me, the starts are going well, the mark roundings are pretty good. I feel like I am doing the technical side really well, it is just getting the windshifts right."

Meech seems to have good speed enabling him to hit the front of the fleet on a couple of occasions and pulling in places downwind.

However like many of the top sailors - he is yet to really find the groove - particularly on the two courses which are closest to shore, and get the maximum land effect - which looks easy on the topographical map, but not so easy on the water where a land haze is a further restriction on visibility.

The formbook also appears to turned inside out, a little however it is early days in the regatta as those who have had good racing practice in Europe, press home their advantage. Later in the week with a change in wind direction and maybe in strength around the passing of the typhoon.

Overall the placings and points are still very tight, particularly amongst the top three in each of the four classes that have sailed so far. However further down the points table some of the more fancied, have allowed a substantial points gap to open early in the regatta - and the climb back will be difficult.

2016 Silver medalist, Annalise Murphy (IRL), lies in 32nd position in the Laser Radial fleet, with Paige Railey (USA) in 39th overall. In the Laser fleet, current World Champion Matt Wearn lies in 12th place overall. It was a strange sight to see Wearn beaten over the finish line in Race 2, by fellow Oceania sailor Eroni Leilua (Samoa). But to be fair Wearn did appear to have a boom vang issue.

The likelihood of a typhoon was touched on prior to the Olympics by 49er coach, Hamish Willcox, now attending his eighth Olympics regatta, as a coach/weatherman.

"The Philippines ocean area is the warmest ocean in the world and it is getting warmer all the time," he told Sail-World prior to the NZ team departure. He put the chance of the Olympics being disturbed by a typhoon at around 50%.

"Depending on its track, we could get onshore winds and big waves. It could be unsailable for ome of the classes, if it is like we have seen befor. The waves break almost right across from Enoshima to Kamakura. You can't get out of the harbour, even if you can sail out in the ocean."

"Then we will get into a light seabreeze situation, which is quite feeble and difficult to recognise whether it is an onshore gradient, or whether it is a seabreeze and the characteristics are quite different, depending on which it is."

News today is that World Sailing has banned the used of the New Zealand developed YachtBot, weather measurement application, which monitored on the water wind readings from the coach boat, and taking the weather game up a level from the handbearing compass and piece of wool approach, amazing still used by many coaches.

The move by World Sailing comes as no surprise, with the world body trying to control the so-called "arms race". However YotBot has been under development for over 20 years and has been used at numerous world championships and similar as well as being part of a regular coaching and boat tune program. The strength of the system is that it allows the constant logging of wind data on the day, and can be used to determine rig settings and the like. Australia and New Zealand apparently read the latest World Sailing regulations with the conclusion that YachtBot was legal, however apparently a definitive ruling has now been made to disallow use of the system for the Olympics.

The late call is very unfair on those Nations who have been using the system, who have now had to use alternate methods, while countries who have been using another system of analysis can continue with that use.

Tomorrow sees the opening races for several classes in Tokyo2020, including the Finn, heavyweight men's singlehanded class, mens and women two-person skiff.

With several of the key contenders in the Finn and 49er, featuring in the recent America's Cup Match, it will be interesting to see if they continue the trend set in the regatta to date, or if being race sharp they are able to show the other competitors, the way around Enoshima and Sagami Bay.

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