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49er & 49erFX Worlds - Lanzarote International Regatta 2024 - The Recap

by Andy Rice / Lanzarote Sailing Center 2 Apr 21:19 BST 4-10 March 2024
Lanzarote International Regatta 2024 © Sailing Energy / Lanzarote Sailing Center

After the successful conclusion of the iQFOiL World Championship on the 3rd of February, Marina Rubicón came back, hosting a new Olympic class world championship under the umbrella of the Lanzarote International Regatta, delivering a stunning playing field for six days of competition.

The 49er World Championship, in Lanzarote, kicked off on March 4th and concluded after six intense days of racing on March 10th. Amidst intense battles and surprising twists, the event marked a significant chapter for the men's 49er double class and the women's 49erFX, with the competition heating up in advance of the Olympic Regatta this July, including the European Championships in La Grande Motte, France, in May.

The championship was made up of a Qualifying Series and a Final Series. At the end of the qualifying series, the top 25 best crews sailed in the gold fleet, while on the last day of the event the final Medal Race took place, in which only the top 10 would compete, with double points awarded and the result unable to be discarded.

The Lanzarote International Regatta, organized by Marina Rubicón, had the collaboration of the Royal Canarian Sailing Federation, as well as the institutional support of the Tourism area of the Lanzarote Cabildo through the sports product European Sports Destination (managed by SPEL-Turismo Lanzarote), Promotur Turismo de Canarias, the Yaiza City Council and the private entities Dinghycoach, Naviera Armas and Cabrera Medina (Cicar).

This event served as part of the selection and qualification trials for many nations, including the USA. While the men's 49er fleet determined their Olympic destiny at a domestic trial in Miami, US Sailing used international regattas in Europe to decide the 49erFX trials.

On the inaugural day of the 49er and 49erFX World Championships in Lanzarote, China took an early FX category, while USA dominated in the 49ers. The day's performance raised questions about China's potential to challenge the best in the world. However, big changes were about to take place on the leaderboard, as the 126 teams strived for consistency.

The fourth day of the 49er Worlds marked the first day of Gold Fleet Racing, where the top 25 teams competed head-to-head in three intense races. The challenging condition, big wind shifts, gusts and lulls, tested sailors' patience, tactical courage and quick thinking.

The Brazilians demonstrated their prowess by scoring all top 10s, reminding us why they are the double Olympic Champions. Despite facing stiff competition from newer teams from Sweden and The Netherlands in recent years, the Brazilians remained strong contenders for a third successive gold at The Games.

The fifth day of the championship brought the windiest and waviest conditions in Lanzarote, presenting participants the toughest physical challenge yet, while the final day of the event was filled with adrenaline, as the French team held a 30-point advantage over the Dutch, with the Spanish favorites trailing by 12 points.

In more than a quarter of a century of 49er World Championships, France had never won the world title, but on the strength of this performance, Erwan Fischer and Clement Pequin's performance put them on the brink of making history, securing France's first-ever 49er world title on the final day of the 49er and 49erFX World Championships in Lanzarote. Odile van Aanholt and Annette Duetz (NED) reclaimed the 49erFX world title for The Netherlands.

With the Olympic Regatta looming in July, this championship served as a crucial battleground, shaping the narratives and aspirations of sailors worldwide. With countries refining their teams and strategies, anticipation is building up for an exciting competition in Paris 2024.

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