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Saturday, May 12, 2012

SEIKO 49er Worlds - A Fitting End 

Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen secured history by winning the 49er World Championship, although under not as joyful times as they would have liked.  News arrived as sailors awoke in Croatia that Frank Bethwaite (91), father of Julian and an instrumental partner in the design and continued development of the 49er, had passed away overnight.  While many of the current sailors may not have known Frank, they certainly were enjoying his product and more than likely many had read one of his books on high performance sailing. 

Two races were held in the morning for the silver and gold fleets and the bronze fleet results stood on the previous days score.  Six to eight knot winds mixed the fleet up a bit as last attempts were made to make the medal race. As a tribute, the medal race winners carried a black card in their sails in memory of Frank Bethwaite.  Young guns Marcus Hansen and Josh Prebski (NZL) sailed a brilliant medal race to move them up in the standings with the medal race held directly in front of the S.C. Uskok to the delight of the crowds that had gathered on the beach and pier to cheer on the sailors.  

 Second overall was the team of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) who had incredible speed and amazing ability to pick the right shifts on the water all week.  Danish Olympic team members Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang moved into the bronze medal position by having two great races earlier in the day and finishing 4th in the medal race.

Silver fleet was won by Matthieu Frei and Yann Rocherieux (FRA) who maintained a consistent series.  The Bronze fleet was won by Jan Hauke Erichsen and Max Lutz (GER).

 The medal ceremony was held directly afterwards and began with a moment of silence by all competitors. 

Although champions were crowned the Class was saddened by such a great loss.  As the sun set in Zadar, friends bid farewell to see each other at another championship and Olympic teams prepared for the Games this summer. 

Full results, photos and videos can be found on www.49erworlds.org.

Friday, May 11, 2012

SEIKO 49er Worlds - History in the Making?

Could this be the year history is made?  Nathan Outteridge (AUS) is chasing his fourth 49er World Championship and is bringing Iain Jensen as his crack crew to help him secure the deal.  Their finishes today (8-4-1) moved them one day closer to the dream with a 9 point lead over the second place team of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL).

He’s in good company; Chris Nicholson, current skipper of CAMPER in the Volvo Ocean Race won the first 3 49er World Championships.  Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez, 2011 ISAF Sailor’s of the Year and currently also on the Volvo Ocean Race on Telefonica are 49er World Champions in 2002, 2004 and 2010 as well as Olympic Gold medallists in the Athens Olympics in 2004.  Those are big shoes to fill and strong role models to chase.

But Nathan is no stranger to being a role model.  He’s a 3-time ISAF Youth World champion and 3-time 49er World champion as well as holding world titles in other classes. When asked about chasing Nicholson and Martinez he commented, “It’s a massive achievement and he’s (Chris) someone I’ve always looked up to. Nico was an Australian guy who was leading the way and I wanted to carry on the Australian legacy and with Goobs (Iain) we’ve won two worlds so far and we’re in a pretty good spot at the moment.  As for Iker, he and Xabi get in the boat for 2 weeks and are back at it. That’s impressive.”  Impressive is that Outteridges’ next trip will be to the America’s Cup where he has joined forces with Team Korea as their skipper.  Looks like the 49er Class breeds champions. 

Tomorrow will be the final day of racing in the gold, silver and bronze fleets with 2 races a piece and a medal race for the gold fleet. 

Currently leading the sliver fleet is Matthieu Frei and Yann Rocherieux (FRA) and Jan Hauke Erichsen and Max Lutz (GER) continue to lead the Bronze fleet. 

The forecast for tomorrow’s racing calls for a bit more wind.

Follow the action on www.49erworlds.org.  The finals conclude Saturday with the medal race and prizegiving held in the afternoon.

 

Thursday, May 10, 2012 

SEIKO 49er Worlds - Consistency is King 

Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen stayed cool today and remained consistent despite some desperate times.  Having a few World Championships under your belt might help and it seems the boys from down under called upon their patience during some tricky conditions and were able to recover enough from some deep roundings to sail through the fleet and remain atop the leaderboard.  

The first race for the gold fleet was held in light conditions with local Croatian sailors Pavle Kostov and Petar Cupac leading wire to wire to the cheers of their local sailing club volunteers and staff as their win was announced over the loudspeaker.  Outteridge/Jensen were on their transom finishing in second.  Race two had a shift just after the start with the right side favored.  Additional positions were shifted on the downwind leg and a scramble of scores ensued between the top boats. A bit more wind pressure at the start of race three found the fleet evenly split on the weather leg with Denmark’s Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang taking the win. 

Pawel Kolodzinski, Polish crew who entered the gold fleet in 4th, commented on the switch from qualifying to gold fleet; “Now we have to compete with the top 25 in the world.  Every small mistake you make, there is a big difference in the fleet.”   For Poland, “Zadar is the 3rd selection for the Polish Olympic selection.  We are currently leading and we hope this will be a good result for us.” 

In the silver fleet, 3 races were held with Stylianos Soliriou and Alfonso Panagiotidis (GRE) leading.  The bronze fleet is led by Jan Hauke Erichsen and Max Lutz (GER). 

The forecast is the same for tomorrow at 8-12 knots and once again, clear skies. Saturday’s forecast is for a change with more wind and clouds. 

Follow the action on www.49erworlds.org.  The final continue Friday with the prizegiving held on May 12.

 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

 SEIKO 49er Worlds - London Bound

 Although the forecast of 12-15 knots didn’t quite materialize for the day, nothing could have been better for the five teams that have now qualified their countries for the 2012 Olympics in Weymouth this August.  The lighter winds once again provided a great theatre for the skiffs and their boat handling skills as they fought around the track jockeying for places.  At the end of the qualifying series the following countries have punched their ticket to Weymouth; Bermuda with Jesse and Zander Kirkland in 8th; Japan’s Yuko Makino and Kenji Takahasi in 22nd; Canada’s Gordon Cook and Hunter Lowden in 23rd; Dionisis Dimou and Mihalis Pateniotis of Greece in 24th and rounding out the Gold fleet, Pietro and Gianfranco Sibello of Italy in 25th.

Regatta leaders Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) turned on the heat today with a 1-1-2 sailing their distinctive purple kite to the front of the fleet.  Tobias Schadewaldt and Hannes Baumann (GER) sit 5 points behind.  Hannes commented that they had “light conditions, not that breezy with around 5-9 knots.  We scored an 8th in first race and  managed to win the next race; had a short lunch and went back out.  We went out to Course B and we thought we’d have much more wind and would pick up like yesterday, but it didn’t.  But we had lovely sailing, just beautiful,” he said with a huge smile.

When asked about the competition on the race course, he continued saying, “The nations that are qualified (for the Olympics) I think they are racing quite similar to normal racing.  Those countries that are aiming for one of the open spots are pretty tense and fighting pretty hard.”  His strategy for the finals?  “Going into the finals the gold fleet racing is always more intense and more tight with 25 boats in the fleet so we are looking forward to it and try to be as good as we can.” 

The forecast for tomorrow is for 8-12 knots and once again, clear skies. 

Follow the action on www.49erworlds.org.  The final series begins Thursday with the prizegiving held on May 12.


 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

 SEIKO 49er Worlds - Picture Perfect Day

 Perfect mediterranean conditions were served up for the second day of racing for the SEIKO 49er World Championship in Zadar, Croatia.  These were the kind of conditions where the sailors were able to get the most out of their boat; flat water with tight racing in 8-15 knots in 30 minute races under cloudless skies. Perfect for spectators as well as the two races courses are held just off the SC Uskok’s beach and between the neighboring island.

Tobias Schadewaldt and Hannes Baumann, Germany’s 2012 Olympic representatives, moved into the lead ahead of Lukasz Przybytek and Pawel Kolodzinski (POL) who are now tied with current 49er World champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) who moved up once the discard came into play.  

The top 5 positions for the Olympic qualifying countries are beginning to sort out although there’s still several countries in contention.  Bermuda brothers Jesse and Zander Kirkland remain at the top of the list sitting in 17th overall followed by Japan’s Yukio Makino and Kenji Takahashi.  Pietro and Gianfranco Sibello (ITA) are getting back in form in 20th overall.  Canada’s Gordon Cook and Hunter Lowden, Greek sailors Dionisis Dimou and Mihalis Pateniotis round out the top 5 countries in the hunt.

International Race Officer David Campbell James, who oversaw course A, commented “it was one of the best days sailing we’ve had, with 4 fantastic starts; we had 3 races for blue and 1 for red, flat water, steady wind, making target time for all the races.”  He continued, “we started with 7-8 knots in the first race with 12-13 for the last race and incredibly steady wind. Tomorrow we’ll have a later start at 12:00.”

The forecast is for 12-15 knots for tomorrow’s racing with consistent wind and clear skies.

 

Follow the action on www.49erworlds.org with the end of the qualifying series Wednesday and the finals starting May 10. The prizegiving will be held on May 12

 

Monday, May 7, 2012

SEIKO 49er Worlds - And They’re Off!

Evening showers broke to a cloudy day with light winds keeping anxious sailors onshore for the first day of racing for the SEIKO 49er World Championship in Zadar, Croatia. 

After a few hours the race committee released the sailors for three races each in the three qualifying flights.  With varying and shifting winds that eventually settled into a nice afternoon seabreeze of 8-11 knots the 74 boats took turns and completed enough races for a full day’s racing.

After three races early regatta leaders Lukasz Przybytek and Pawel Kolodzinski (POL) are tied with Tobias Schadewaldt and Hannes Baumann (GER) with 10 points.  One point behind is a 3-way tie with Bermuda brothers Jesse and Zander Kirkland, Justus Schmidt and Max Boehme (GER) and Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL).

With Bermuda hoping to take one of the 5 qualification spots for the 2012 Olympic Games, skipper Jesse Kirkland explained their strategy; “we went into the day with a simple plan of top 10 finishes.”  He explained further that  “we’ve been here for a week training and the conditions have been similar with a soft northwesterly, so the conditions were perfect to our training”    Although early in the regatta, Jesse made a point to mention his thanks to “the many supporters back home as well as some Bermudian friends here supporting us as well.”  Preparation and a cheering squad couldn’t be better!  

The forecast for tomorrow’s racing looks rewarding with more consistent wind of 10-15 knots and clear skies.

Follow the action on www.49erworlds.org with the qualifying series continuing through May 9 and the prizegiving on May 12.

 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

SEIKO 49er Worlds - Champions Ready to Go

The 49er Class has returned to Zadar, Croatia to dispute the SEIKO 2012 World Championship with some of the best sailors in the world.  78 teams representing 32 nations have arrived in Zadar not only to claim the remaining 5 country slots for the 2012 Olympics but to test their skills for the upcoming Games against the best sailors as well as claim the title of 49er World Champion.

The last time the 49er Class was in Zadar was in 2009 for the European Championship where Pietro and Gianfranco Sibello of Italy were crowned champions. Fitting as Pietro will make his debut after a lengthy medical hiatus that will find him back on the water with his brother with hopes to qualify Italy for the 2012 Games.  Pietro was given a hearty round of applause at the Opening Ceremonies last night by fellow competitors.

While several teams have already been named by their Federations for the 2012 Olympic Games and will use these Worlds as a testing grounds, there are still several nations that have yet to name their team.  Competition as always will be fast and furious and the organizers in Zadar are prepared to host the best event.

Australians Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen who sit atop the ISAF rankings are here with Nathan trying to win his fourth title as skipper, the first in the 49er class.

Follow the action on www.49erworlds.org with racing beginning May 7 and the prizegiving on May 12.