49erFX - Fresh faces at the front
The usual suspects were hard to find in the first race of the 49erFX gold fleet. With the wind lighter than expected and the teams struggling to power their skiffs through the choppy swell of Weymouth Bay, some different names came to the fore.
Anne-Julie Schütt and Iben Nielsby seized the initiative and read the tricky variations in the course better than anyone as the Danes won the first race in a Force 3. Odile van Aanholt and Marieke Jongens led the race for a while and still managed to hold on for a useful second while their rivals for Dutch Olympic selection were sixth, the reigning World Champions Annemieke Bekkering and Annette Duetz. After a lacklustre qualifying series, was this the start of a fight-back by van Aanholt and Jongens? They're known to enjoy the lighter breezes, but a follow-up 15th and 26th in the following two races keeps them rooted in the mid-teens on the scoreboard.
One of the high-profile casualties from the first race was the British team of Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey who fell foul of the U flag at the start and were disqualified from the race. They responded in the best way possible, winning the second race comfortably and then scoring a respectable 4th place in the next.
Meanwhile it had been a shaky start for one of the discoveries of this regatta, the world-class performance by the 2018 Junior World Champions from Sweden who had performed so well in the strong breeze at the start of the week. Vilma Bobeck and Malin Tengstrom started the day with a 19th, but were looking good as the breeze built during race two. Half way through a gybe, just missing a weather buoy in the middle of the course, they failed to notice that the larger buoy was also attached to a smaller secondary buoy by a connecting rope. Their skiff lurched to a halt as it run over the tripwire, forcing the Swedes out of that race with a DNF on their score. Just as the Brits had responded to adversity with a race win, the young Swedes had their bit between their teeth for the final race. "Our coach told us we had the speed, we had the handling to be able to go and win, we just had to do it," said Bobeck. "So we started well, we had good speed, we could stretch our legs and we sailed fast to win the last race. That felt good." This puts them in 8th overall, and now the challenge is to see if they can maintain or improve on that place as their favourite breeze gives way to the lighter airs forecast for the weekend.
Dobson and Tidey will be looking forward to dropping that U flag score from their results once the second discard comes in, but for the time being they are third on 52 points. Bekkering/Duetz are second on 32 points and some way ahead, after a solid, relentlessly focused day of 4,2,2 scores are the reigning Olympic Champions from Brazil. Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze sit on 21 points and as yet have shown few signs of weakness.