Life in the Passing Lane for Gold Fleet Standouts

Life in the Passing Lane for Gold Fleet Standouts

Life in the Passing Lane for Gold Fleet Standouts


08/07/2022 - 23:12

In a week of shifting and gusty offshore winds, day one of the 49er FX and 49er Gold Fleet series revealed the most hectic conditions yet. The result? Top sailors from each fleet had to earn their stripes, many linking up small shifts and big puffs to pass boats five or even ten at a time to string together a solid day of singles respectable finishes.

Grael/Kunze (BRA) worked their magic in the FX fleet, using a trademark downwind jibe set to fight back from places in the teens and end up with a 3, 10, 2, to be in second, losing a tiebreaker for first with Bobeck/Netzler (SWE) who faltered with a 24, 1, 16.

Its was the Finish pair of Gronblom and Hokka, however, who stunned the fleet with a spectacular start to the series, a 1, 3, 1. One of the first place finishes went down as the most dramatic race of the day. The pair scraped and clawed their way out of the pack, first to the weather mark, grabbing the final shifts in the erratic waters below the two-story Sailing Aarhus building. They dropped into the teens as the wind built on the run only to fire back to first by the finish, seemingly sailing in their own private puffs. They now have moved up to 10th.

Botin/Trittel Paul (ESP) were faced with the same scenario as the FX fleet, falling on the wrong side of the course several times. While half of the top 10 in each of the three races held onto the pack, the other half were replaced by those who doggedly worked their way through small packs of boats, taking every bit of leverage they could find. The Spanish converted deep places to win races one and two and stand atop the leaderboard.

The highlight of the afternoon was certainly the epic third race where Lambriex/van de Werken (NED) and Rual/Amoros (FRA) ended up in the 20s at one point during the first beat. The French with tremendous discipline picked out a few shifts to move slowly into the top pack. They ended the race in fourth while the dutch, were left to wallow in the teens until the last beat and run where, alone on the right side of the course, the pair hit the passing lane and were relieved to finish in fourth.

Though the Dutch have lost their event lad and are six points behind the Spanish, it could have been much worse of a day. The rest of the fleet were happy enough. to stay out of the weeds as there were many capsizes including, surprisingly, one in each of the last two races by the Fantella brothers of Croatia who still hold onto fifth place.

Second is the new first

"They have a different gear than the rest of us. They are good at swapping modes." - Carson Crane, USA34.

 Crane's understated assessment of Tita/Banti (ITA) after the Italian's 2, 1, 1 finishes expresses the collective truth that this team is not letting up at this European Championship.

 So let's talk about today's standouts!

Sinem Kurtbay had a great day. She was alone this morning, walking slowly but purposefully along the bulkhead with not a boat in sight, swinging each arm slowly, alternating between the two. Focused, relaxed, she glanced at the water and started her day. It would be her best since the start of this championship where she and crew Akseli Keskinen climbed to 6th, well within striking distance of the podium.

Kurtbay/Keskinen (FIN) were one of the most successful teams, with an impressive 3, 3, 6 in the wild conditions of the day. With violent puffs that literally blew some Nacra 17s off their foils, the racing was dramatic to say the least.

As impressive a result was the 1, 4, 4, posted by the young Italian team of Ugolini/Giubilei who sailed their way into 4th. Working hard to be noticed in a national team that boasts the current Olympic champions and two world championship titles, there's a lot more to come from the pair.

Two more days of racing are in store with a forecast of more brilliant sunshine and strong winds on the Bay of Aarhus. Though there may be Italian writing on the wall as the medal race looms on Sunday, there's plenty of room for podium dreams in this powerful fleet of athletes.



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