Anton Dahlberg & Lovisa Karlsson (SWE) extended their lead in the 470 after winning another big wave, big wind race on day three of the Lanzarote International Regatta. It proved to be the only race of the day, with no competition for the 49er or 49erFX fleets.
The Dreaded ‘Calima’
While the huge swell and big breeze gusting up to 26 knots was certainly proving a challenge to the sailors, it was the ‘calima’, the dreaded Saharan dust carried on a strong easterly wind, that forced a halt to racing. With visibility reduced to little more than a couple of hundred metres, safety considerations prevailed and the 470s were sent back to the shelter of Marina Rubicon.
As to that 470 race, it was further evidence that the Israeli team of Nitai Hasson and Noa Lasry (ISR) who are proving to be very effective in survival conditions. Having sailed together for less than a year, Hasson says they are improving their communication and understanding of each other in the boat. It also helps that they sail without fear in big conditions.
Snookered by a ripped spinnaker
The Israelis found a good lane out of the congested start line and somehow through all the madness of the big waves they got into their groove and led comfortably by the first turning mark.
“Wow, such amazing conditions, like really extreme conditions,” Hasson grinned after getting back ashore. “It was right on the limit, a really big swell and 20 to 25 knots with current taking us upwind. We were doing everything to push the boat as hard as possible, reading the wind shifts and we had a really good race from beginning to end. Well actually, not quite to the end because on the last leg our spinnaker broke into two, I’m not sure why, but we had to sail the last bit of the race with just mainsail and jib. Two boats passed us, but we were still third so we must be happy with that.”
Swedish surf to the top
The two boats that surfed past the Israelis were Dahlberg & Karlsson (SWE) followed by Hippolyte Machetti & Aloïse Retornaz (FRA). The race win takes the Swedes past former leaders Jordi Xammar & Nora Brugman (ESP) who were one of many teams that struggled in the extreme conditions. A DNC score for the Spanish drops them to 2nd overall but still 11 points ahead of the third place crew, their teammates Silvia Mas & Nico Rodríguez (ESP).
Dahlberg is loving the challenge of Lanzarote this week. “That was a big race, one we’ll remember for a while,” said the Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medallist. “I think we were not great but we were just slightly better than the others and had a bit of luck. Well, maybe not luck, but we managed to avoid the problems that happened to others, capsizing and breaking things. This is the kind of day you live for. The 470 is just great in these conditions but the margin for error is always very small and any error could be very, very costly. Fortunately we managed to avoid any big errors today and we’re happy to have come through the day in good shape.”
Done and Dusted
Principal race officer Ricardo Navarro regretted that no more racing was possible. “We have a lot of wind today, perhaps more than we would like, but the reason we didn’t have more racing is because of the dust in the air. We work with nature in our sport and sometimes nature says we can’t go sailing.”
Meanwhile, with no racing in the skiff fleets today, the two British teams continue to hold the top spot in the 49er and 49erFX fleets, respectively James Peters & Fynn Sterritt (GBR) and Freya Black & Saskia Tidey (GBR).
This afternoon, even flights in and out of Lanzarote were delayed due to the effects of the calima. If the Saharan dust dissipates overnight and visibility improves, then the plan is for one final fleet race for each of the three fleets and then to hold medal races for the top 10 in the 470, 49er and 49erFX. After picking up two start line disqualifications in their scores, the reigning 470 World Champions Luise Wanser & Philipp Autenrieth sit 3 points out of 10th position and desperately need a last fleet race to see if they can squeak into the medal race.
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).
Andy Rice, event reporter