ISAF - North, South Test
20 August 2015
Sailors were tested by a northern Rio breeze for the first time at the Aquece Rio - International Sailing Regatta in a testing day for the sailors and officials.
Heading into the day, upon viewing the forecast, many believed the Race Committees would be hard pressed to fit in any racing with 2-6 knots present.
A northern early afternoon breeze enabled the Nacra 17 and RS:X fleets to get some racing in before the breeze slowly turned round to the south.
It was a long day for all of the competitors as they waited for a breeze suitable for racing. The Finn and Nacra 17 fleet completed two whilst the 470s, 49erFX, Laser, Laser Radial and RS:X fleets got one race apiece in. Only the 49ers were unable to get any racing in.
Men's and Women's RS:X
Aichen Wang's (CHN) Olympic gold medal winning coach Tom Ashley (NZL) described his athlete's performance as, "one of the best I have seen," after the Chinese sailor opened up a 17 point lead over his Men's RS:X rivals.
Ashley, who won gold in the Men's RS:X at Beijing 2008, has guided Wang to five race victories from nine fleet races with the remaining results all in the top five.
The ball is firmly in Wang's court heading into the Medal Race and Ashley was full of high praise after racing, "He's been amazing this week. I have rarely seen anyone give such a good performance. All the years that I was sailing and the last couple of years I've been watching as a coach, so far, it's been one of the best performances I have seen. We have still got the Medal Race tomorrow and we'll see how that goes but it's been really good."
Ashley knows it's not about what you do now that matters. Athletes have one more year to wait until the Olympic Games so there's time to finalise and fine tune therefore Ashley won't be getting too carried away, "I think he and I both know we still have a lot of work to do. There are a few issues that we need to solve. Obviously they haven't shown up here because of the conditions we have had but for us to be absolutely bullet proof next year we still have work to do."
Asked who would win between Wang now and Ashley at his peak the Kiwi replied with a smile, "him for sure but people are just better now. The level of the fleet is so much higher than it used to be.
"Before I imagined I would teach him techniques from the other sailors and from what I used to know. Recently, I've started to think he has a lot better potential than what I had.
"This week he has shown what he can do and I would have never been able to sail like that on my best days. It's exciting to see that potential come out."
And Wang's potential has shone brightly indeed with only the second placed Pierre Le Coq (FRA) able to overthrow him if eight boats separate the duo. In all likelihood Le Coq will be aiming to protect his silver medal with Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) six points behind and Ivan Pastor (ESP) ten points behind heading into the Medal Race.
France's Charline Picon had the "power to do good" in the Women's RS:X as she took the bullet in the single race of the day.
After a bad day on 18 August that saw her finish 13th Picon's day was made worse after her coach was unable to take to the water on 19 August after violating the support boat regulations.
Picon came out to show the fleet she meant business as she explained, "I had a good race today," smiled Picon. "It was important for me because yesterday I had a bad race. I had a bad start and after that it was easy for everybody to stay up front. The water is very flat and in light wind, if you are at the back, it is very hard because everybody is very fast. I did my best but I was frustrated.
"Today I had to prove to myself I could have a good race in light wind and I did it. I'm happy with that.
"I didn't have my coach today because yesterday he went out of the coach boat zone for 20 metres for 10 seconds so he was in the jury room last night and he couldn't enter the marina today so I was without my coach and I had the power to do good."
And Picon was powerful, working her way through the pack to take a 36 second victory over Tuuli Petaja-Siren (FIN).
As a result, the French racer tops the billing heading into the Medal, albeit via countback as she sits tied on 29 points with Malgorzata Bialecka (POL). Spain's Blanca Manchon is third on 31 points and it could be a three way shoot out in the Women's RS:X Medal Race.
Australia's Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin were dominant in the Nacra 17 taking both race wins to advance to the top of the leader board, "It was an interesting day today, we got to sail into a different direction," commented Darmanin.
"We've been here for a month and it was the first time we raced in a northerly, which was very interesting to see how it played out. But it was good and we had a good first race and got a bullet, so I don't mind this direction," Darmanin said laughing.
"The wind wasn't happy after that and we had to wait a long time while it decided what it wanted to do. Finally it settled from the south and we got another race in. Two races for us today and two bullets so we are pretty happy."
Waterhouse and Darmanin have played the long game in Rio, sailing effectively to put together eight top seven results. They lead early pace setters Paul Kohlhoff and Carolina Werner (GER) who dropped down to third after a 13-10 with Mandy Mulder and Coen de Koning (NED) moving up to second after a 3-4.
The Australians took the first race win of the day by 41 seconds but were pushed a little harder in the second, crossing the line 11 seconds clear.
One day of fleet racing remains ahead of Friday's Medal Race and Waterhouse is happy with their positioning, "Lisa did a great job keeping the boat going forward and we were making good decisions and that's all you can ask for in a venue like this. This puts us into first place overall and that's where we want to be in the end. We hope to consolidate tomorrow and to improve on our result going into the Medal Race because anything can happen at the Sugar Loaf (Medal Race Course)."
Men's and Women's 470
Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) advanced up to first overall in the Men's 470 following victory in the single race on the Pai course, the furthest away from Marina da Gloria. The Croatians were comfortable on the race track and finished 26 seconds clear of Onan Barreiros and Juan Curbelo Cabrera (ESP).
They lead overnight leaders Stu McNay and Dave Hughes (USA) by just two points after the Americans came through in fifth.
In the Women's 470 Anne Haeger and Briana Provancha (USA) held onto top spot with a smart performance. In the single race that saw ups and downs amongst the top five teams the Americans held firm to sail their way to a second. Afrodite Zegers and Anneloes van Veen (NED) took the race win and moves up to sixth overall.
Laser and Laser Radial
It was one race apiece for the Laser and Laser Radial fleets outside of Guanabara Bay on the Copacabana race course.
Francesco Marrai (ITA) extended his lead in the Laser by taking a second, behind race winner Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA). The Italian has subsequently moved 13 points clear of Lee Parkhill (CAN) and Robert Scheidt (BRA) who are tied on 43 points apiece.
In the Laser Radial, Paige Railey (USA) reduced the gap on Gintare Scheidt (LTU) to four points. Railey's sixth compared to Scheidt's ninth was enough to put her within touching distance.
Sweden's Josefin Olsson took the race victory and occupies ninth.
Jonathan Lobert (FRA) and Giles Scott (GBR) shone in the Finn and reeled in the early pace setter Pieter Jan Postma (NED).
Scott put in the outstanding performance of the day with a 1-3 to move up to fourth overall whilst a third and a second for Lobert sees him tied on points with Postma who sailed his way to a 16th, which he discards, and a sixth.
The 49erFX got one race in before the sunset, starting at 17:05 on the Escola Naval course. Ida Marie Nielsen and Marie Olsen (DEN) picked up the victory and move up to fifth overall.
Overnight leaders Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) slipped down to third after a 16th. Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich (ITA) move back up to first overall following an eighth. Argentina's Victoria Travascio and Maria Sol Branz remain in a podium position after discarding their 19th.
Racing is scheduled to commence at 12:00 local time on Thursday 20 August. The Men's and Women's RS:X will roll out first to complete their week with the Medal Races.