Big wind and huge, steep swell set a massive physical challenge for the three Olympic fleets on day two of the Lanzarote International Regatta in the Canary Islands.
British skiff sailors surfed to the top of the rankings in the two skiff classes. Freya Black & Saskia Tidey (GBR) held their nerve to move to the top of the 49erFX women’s fleet while teammates James Peters & Fynn Sterritt (GBR) did the same in the 49er men.
470: Spanish Fly
Jordi Xammar (ESP) set a new standard for driving the 470 downwind in waves during the last Olympic cycle leading up to Tokyo 2020. Today the Olympic bronze medallist and his crew Nora Brugman pushed their 470 hard in all three races and scores of 1,2,2 launch the Spaniards to the top of the pile.
There had been a bit of trepidation in the boat park early this morning for the scheduled 0945 hours start time. During the long sail out from Marina Rubicon to Course Alpha, the pounding waves took their toll on equipment, particularly to the mast of Italian team Marco Gradoni and Alessandra Dubbini (ITA).
When their mast snapped in half, the Italians rushed ashore, stepped a replacement rig in the boat and rejoined to the contest to notch up a very respectable 6,10 scoreline which has them in 8th overall.
Chasing Xammar & Brugman for the overall lead are the reigning European Champions from Sweden, Anton Dahlberg & Lovisa Karlsson (SWE), who scored 2,1,9. Dahlberg, the Olympic silver medallist from Tokyo, has been campaigning 470s for almost 20 years but today the experienced veteran was grinning like a kid in a sweet shop. “It was this kind of day where it was complete madness on the reaching leg. I told Lovisa to get out on the trapeze and she said ‘I can’t! There’s huge waves and there’s no way I can get on the side of the boat!’ It was pretty funny.
“Those were special, exceptional conditions. It’s you, your partner, the boat, the wave; you’re in this zone, and it was super, super fun. It wasn’t that windy, but the waves were huge. Very tricky sailing, but so much fun. We had some pretty good results but I think the Spanish were really good today.”
Second best performers of the day in the 470 were Nitai Hason & Noa Lasry (ISR) whose scores of 3,3,1 lift the Israelis to 6th overall.
49erFX: Black & Tidey
Even launching the 49erFX fleet had its hairy moments, the wind was gusting hard through Marina Rubicon as the women launched their frisky, disobedient skiffs on to the water. The racing was a war of attrition with multiple nosedives, pitchpoles and capsizes in the huge, unforgiving swell.
Where the 470s travel at more or less wave speed a lot of the time, the 49erFX always wants to overtake the wave, and that’s where the trouble really begins. Learning how to throttle back is sometimes more important than putting your foot to the floor.
Emerging unscathed and on top of the leaderboard were the still quite new pairing of Freya Black and Saskia Tidey (GBR). While Tidey has been to the past two Olympic Games in the 49erFX, Black is barely a year in this demanding class. Which made her mastery of today’s conditions all the more impressive.
Tidey was still buzzing from a big day out. “Pretty full on, but fun, massive waves,” she grinned. “Thankfully we kept a dry mast for all three races, plenty of points where we were nearly going over but Freya did a great job of keeping the stick in the sky.
“That was Big!”
“To be honest, I think I saw two of the biggest waves in my career today. Bigger than in Tokyo, but we survived them and that’s all that matters. A lot of time I was head in the boat, trying to look after ourselves and keeping out of trouble, so I’m only just realising now how much of a big day it’s been with breakage and injury. It’s an epic venue and Marina Rubicon are putting on such a great show here, we’re really enjoying it.”
Almost as consistent as the British scores of 2,4,1 were the Italians, Jana Germani & Georgia Bertuzzi (ITA) who won the first two heats and were sixth in the last. “We haven’t had a moment to think about what we did just now,” said Germani as she and Bertuzzi rushed to prepare a new mast in case the fleet was sent out for an afternoon session. “We were sailing in after the races and a fitting at the top of the mast broke so we need to hurry to get ready again.”
The Italians have moved to second overall with Steph Roble & Maggie Shea (USA) posting a solid day to climb to third place, just ahead of yesterday’s leaders, Olympic Champions Martine Grael & Kahena Kunze (BRA) who struggled today.
49er Men: Best of British
James Peters & Fynn Sterritt (GBR) move to the top of the 49ers after the British team scored 2,3,23,3 from the day. Sterritt sounded a little surprised that things had worked out so well for them. “It was hard to get the boat into any kind of a groove,” he said. “It felt like we left a lot out there [that we could have done better]. But we executed pretty well on our game plan, which was to go right up the course because we thought it was a bit stronger out there.”
Best performers of the four-race session were Logan Dunning Beck & Oscar Gunn (NZL) who improved throughout the afternoon with very solid scores of 8,7,2,1. This moves the Kiwis up to second overall, even if they’re a pretty big 16 points off the British lead. Up to third overall are Lukasz Przybytek & Jacek Piasecki (POL). Slipping down from 2nd to 6th overall are Diego Botin & Florian Trittel (ESP) who won the second race but saw their mast tip snap during the final race of the afternoon, forcing the Spanish to retire and head home early.
The forecast for Sunday and the coming days is looking very good. Racing starts at 1100 hours on Sunday morning for the 470 Mixed on Alpha course and the 49erFX women on Bravo.
This international event, organised by Marina Rubicón with the support of the Royal Canarian Sailing Federation is possible thanks to the institutional sponsorship of Promotur Turismo de Canarias with the financing of the REACTEU Fund and Tourism of the Cabildo de Lanzarote through the sports product European Sports Destination (managed by SPEL-Turismo Lanzarote), as well as the public collaboration of the Yaiza City Council and the private entities Dinghycoach, Naviera Armas & Cabrera Medina (Cicar).