Please select your home edition
Edition
Zhik 2024 March - LEADERBOARD

49er & 49er FX Europeans & Nacra 17 Worlds at La Grande Motte, France - Day 3

by 49er and Nacra 17 Sailing 9 May 20:31 BST 7-12 May 2024

Lighter breeze launches young Germans up the FX rankings

A drop in wind strength brought huge changes to the 49erFX leaderboard on day three of the European Championship in La Grande Motte in the South of France.

Anna Barth and Emma Kohlhoff rocketed up the rankings after the young German team scored the best set of results across four races in light winds on the Mediterranean Sea. Scores of 7,5,1,2 have launched the Germans up into seventh place despite sitting out the windy race on the previous day. "It was super good fun today," said Barth, "and especially nice because two days ago I injured myself and we couldn't go out yesterday."

After nosediving and pitchpoling in Tuesday's big breeze and steep chop, Barth was hurled into the water and the boat landed on top of her, hitting her in the head. After such a nasty bang to the head she decided that taking a day out from competition was the wiser option. So after staying on the beach for Wednesday, to bounce back with such a strong performance in today's lighter breeze was the best comeback present they could have hoped for.

"We felt pretty confident because we're going super fast in these conditions," said Kohlhoff. "It was tricky racing but we stayed calm and pretty relaxed. When you're fast you just need to keep it simple."

Belgians keeping it simple at the front

Two of the front runners struggled to maintain such strong form from the windy weather, with the teams from Finland and Italy falling out of the top three and down to eighth and ninth respectively. Instead the top of the leaderboard is a close battle between Belgium, Poland, France and Canada.

Now three points in the lead are Belgium's Isaura Maenhaut and Anouk Geurts. "Keeping relaxed was quite tricky," said Geurts, "because we had three races and then the wind shut down before it fully switched to the sea breeze, so there was a lot of sitting around before the last one."

"We just tried to keep it cool," added Maenhaut. "We're trying to talk about the strategic and tactical priorities for when the breeze came in from the new direction, and then chatted about some random stuff." To win the Europeans, the last major event before the Olympics, would be a huge boost for the team selected for Belgium, but Maenhaut and Geurts said it was far too early to be dreaming of the top of the podium in La Grande Motte.

As for the Polish team of Alexsandra Melzacka and Sandra Jankowiak, they have yet to learn if they're going to the Games. Lying in second place just three points off the Belgian lead, they're doing everything in their power to prove to the Polish selectors that they're the right team to be sent to Paris 2024. "We try not to think about that," said Jankowiak. "We focus on the racing here and we hope that what we do will be enough [to get us to Paris]."

A good day also for the highly experienced French team going to the Games. A former Laser Radial World Champion Sarah Steyaert, combined with Charline Picon, the Rio 2016 Olympic Champion in windsurfing. "This is the first boat Charline has ever sailed," laughed Steyaert. "She picked a difficult one to start with but we're enjoying our sailing a lot in the FX."

Picon says she likes the change of pace from the strong winds to the lighter airs. "We managed to be very regular with our races today," said Picon. "We are making improvements to our technique and our equipment and we choosing some good priorities on the race course."

49er: Some surprise winners and some solid Brits

It was a long day on the water for the men racing in the last heats of the qualifying series. This evening the top 25 find out who moves forward into the gold fleet finals. The light and fickle breezes saw a number of less expected race winners including Oman's Musab Al Hadi and Waleed Al Kendi who scored a bullet in the final yellow group heat.

At the top of the standings James Peters and Fynn Sterritt came away from a difficult day with two solid scores from three races to regain the overall lead from fellow Brits, James Grummett and Rhos Hawes, who are down to second.

Nacra 17: Flying Dutch people

Laila van der Meer and Bjarne Bouwer surprised themselves with a spectacular day on the Nacra 17 race course. The young Dutch team scored 3,1,1 in blue group to move up to second overall behind the Italians Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti. "It was nerve wracking out there," said a mightily relieved and elated Bouwer in the boat park.

"The wind was shifting a lot. It was up and down. So at some point you looked like you were very bad and then you got a gust and you squeezed through. So you couldn't really tell where you were until the top mark."

Van der Meer agreed. "Our heart rates were high while we weren't really doing a lot," she laughed. "It was a day were you had to change mode all day, from foiling to non-foiling, so you had to be eyes-out all the time."

John Gimson and Anna Burnet also scored some good races on the other side of qualifying with a 1,8,1 from yellow group. There are some specialists in the fleet who are good at one thing in one type of breeze, but not so good across the wind range. That's the real challenge for anyone with an eye on this week's world title or this summer's Olympic gold medal, to be a true all-rounder. "That's the hardest thing in the Nacra right now," said Gimson.

"It's kind of three different boats, because in no wind the Nacra goes from being pretty much a keelboat until you lift one hull and it becomes a catamaran, and then when you're fully foiling it's very different again. So we're trying to make ourselves as all-round as we can, which means you have to make compromises somewhere."

By the end of Thursday evening with all the protests resolved, the Nacra 17 Worlds and the men's 49er Europeans are re-flighted into gold and silver fleets, with the prospect of more light airs competition for Friday.

Related Articles

Greece to host 2025 Nacra 17, 49er, FX Europeans
Thessaloniki will proudly host the first championship following the Olympic Games Thessaloniki will proudly host the first championship following the Olympic Games for the second consecutive quadrennial. Posted on 13 Jun
Cagliari to host 2025 Nacra 17, 49er and FX Worlds
The three World Championships will be run concurrently during the annual Sardinia Sailing Cup Cagliari, one of the most important sailing venues in Italy, has won the right to host the 2025 World Championship of three doublehanded Olympic Events. Posted on 30 May
49er & 49er FX Europeans & Nacra 17 Worlds overall
Victories for Italy, Belgium, Uruguay and Great Britain Italian foiling stars Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti have won their fourth Nacra 17 world title in La Grande Motte, France. It was also a great day for first-time winners of a major championship for teams from Uruguay and Belgium. Posted on 12 May
49er & 49er FX Europeans & Nacra 17 Worlds Day 5
Italy with one hand on the Worlds Trophy Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti are too professional to admit it, but a strong performance in Saturday's light airs races has all but secured the Italian defence of the Nacra 17 world title. Posted on 11 May
49er & 49er FX Europeans & Nacra 17 Worlds Day 4
Uruguay surges to the top of the 49ers Uruguay has never qualified a 49er to the Olympic Games. In fact across the whole history of the modern Olympics the South American nation has just won 10 medals, none yet in sailing. Posted on 10 May
49er & 49er FX Europeans & Nacra 17 Worlds Day 2
Olympic Trials Tussles continue at Nacra 17 Worlds Big breeze and massive wind shifts of day two of the Nacra 17 World Championship delivered plenty of drama in La Grande Motte, the South of France. Posted on 8 May
49er & 49er FX Europeans & Nacra 17 Worlds Day 1
British seize early 49er lead, Italy lead in the 49er FX and Nacra 17 classes at La Grande Motte British teams took the lead on both sides of the qualifying draw at the 49er European Championship on day one of the competition. Posted on 7 May
49er & 49erFX Europeans Preview
Fischer & Pequin looking for a good result on home waters The 49er and 49erFX European Championships, along with the Nacra 17 World Championship are about to start in La Grande Motte in the South of France, with sailors looking to make the most of the final major test before this summer's Olympic Games. Posted on 6 May
La Grande Motte International Regatta 2024 preview
Could the young Italians steal Olympic thunder this week? The Nacra 17 World Championship along with the 49er and 49erFX European Championships is about to start in La Grande Motte in the South of France, with sailors looking to make the most of the final major test before this summer's Olympic Games. Posted on 6 May
La Grande Motte International Regatta preview
Final dress rehearsal for the Cats and Skiffs ahead of Paris 2024 The Nacra 17 World Championship along with the 49er and 49erFX European Championships is attracting 148 teams to La Grande Motte in the South of France for six days of racing. Posted on 4 May