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49er - Swiss Whizz Spanish Fly

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49er - Swiss Whizz Spanish Fly_2

While racing earlier in the day may have seemed relatively straightforward for the 49erFX, the same race course proved a very different diamond for the men to crack. Combining the three qualifying fleets into one gold fleet, meant a very close point battle going into the day, and very tight racing on the course itself, which would prove quite tricky with big shifts and huge variations in wind strength.

In Race 1, the Germans Heil/Ploessel appeared to lead from the right early, but a late left shift let the Swedes Sylvan/Anjemark sneak into first at the top mark, the Germans in second and 2008's Olympic Gold Medallist Jonas Warrer with crew Jakob Jensen from the left as well to round third. A mishap at the bottom marks saw the Germans capsize on a rushed gybe, dropping to 16th by race end. 2017 World Champs, Fletcher/Bithell, in 6th coming into the day, played a conservative strategy up the middle right on the first upwind to round 4th, split sides with the Danes to go left at the bottom marks, and used that to pip them for second by the finish line, with the Swedes running away with the lead. The young kiwis Dunning Beck/Gunn took 4th and regatta leaders Burling/Tuke recovered from a bad start to a 5th to maintain their lead after race 1 of gold.

That leaderboard was about to change though. The left side favor of the first race had most of the fleet battling for the pin in the second, and after a general recall, the start of race two had Burling/Tuke lose the battle at the pin, tacking out onto port and then fouling their fellow Kiwis trying to cross on a port/starboard, thus spinning and sitting momentarily last overall. The Belgian team of Lefebvre/Pelsmaekers executed best, a couple of boats up from the pin, they then nailed the port tack layline with a big left shift to lead by a margin at the top. Second furthest left was the young Brits Hawkins/Thomas, thus rounding second followed by the overall second place team, defending European champs Botin/Marra from left as well into third. After racing, crew Yago Marra commented: "We're very happy with our starts, in the second and third races we started middle of the line and felt that was a good strategy for being able to get out the left-hand side." That race itself they climbed up to second, and into the overall lead (with Burling/Tuke finishing 13th), while SUI steadily moved through the ranks to finish third.

That performance was to continue for the SUI team Sebastian Schneiter and Lucien Cujean, who in the 3rd race started a conservative 6 boats up from the pin, but were able to execute with speed and good timing out to the left-hand corner, just chasing the Argentine Lange brothers into mark one. Lucien explained: "We've never felt so fast in those conditions before, we had really good speed which made life much easier. We overtook the Argentineans by going further into the left-hand side corner downwind, leaving the gybe as late as possible, and moved into first by the bottom." In front they stayed, moving them from 20th to 10th on the day, with the best score line of the fleet for the day with an 8,3,1. A solid 3rd position kept the Spaniards at the top of the leaderboard, while a decent 5th rounded out a good day for the 2017 World Champions Fletcher/Bithell.

Bithell summed up their day and the conditions, with a look to the rest of the racing : "We had a lovely breeze out there in the bay although it felt like someone had a switch on the windspeed, it was so up and down. We had a solid day with three counters so we're happy. There are plenty of teams in this regatta who could win and there's a long way to go yet so we're just focused on our own racing at the minute. For now it's head down and just go for it. The weather is going to get worse over the next few days and we said before the event that the rainier and colder it is the better for us! We hope the Spanish and Kiwi lads struggle with the proper British summer."

Wrap up boys and girls, there's plenty more racing to come!

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viking
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