Day 2: press release
Return to Qingdao - Jo Aleh : 'it was China all over again"
After a first day lost initially to too little wind and then too much, it was with considerable relief that three races for the Men and two for the Women could be held off the Hague today at the Delta Lloyd 470 World Championship. But with breeze that ranged from 4-8 knots and shut down altogether at the start of the third race for the men, and the north-flowing tide building to 2-3 knots over the course of the afternoon, conditions were highly challenging.
Class act of the day was certainly Beijing Gold medallist Malcolm Page (AUS) and his new (since 2009) helm Matt Belcher, who scored a perfect 1-1-1 to take the lead in the Men's class. 'It was tricky conditions," commented Belcher. 'We were lucky at certain times, but we are starting quite well, with good judgement, sailing smart and putting the boat in the right position." Belcher acknowledged that good fortune particularly smiled on them in the final race when there was a pile up as two fleets converged at the final mark. Keeping clear enabled them to leap from third place into first for the final run into the finish.
Page and Belcher reckon they have trained less off the Hague than other top teams, but, while they deny it, they are riding the crest of a wave coming straight from victory at Kieler Wocher, following on from second places at the Delta Lloyd Regatta and Rolex Miami OCR - a set of results enabling them to walk away with this year's Sailing World Cup win in the 470 Men, with a regatta to spare.
Double World Champions, Skandia Team GBR's Nic Asher and Elliot Willis won the first two races in their group, but posted an 11th in the third, leaving them third overall, six points adrift of France's highly consistent Nicolas Charbonnier and Baptiste Meyer Dieu.
According to Asher the key to success in today's races with the powerful tide intent on taking the boats across the line, was starting well as this would launch you up the beat with the favourable tide. 'There wasn't much going on shift-wise. It was mostly downwind, because then we were into the tide so if you were quick downwind, you could get away."
In the Women's 470, American 2008 World Champions Erin Maxwell and Isabelle Kinsolving Farrar matched the Australian men with a perfect scoreline. 'The current definitely helped us," said Maxwell. 'Where we grew up, there's a lot of current between Long Island and the mainland coast." Her crew reckoned that they had done well upwind, tacking into good lanes with clean air enabling them to make fewer tacks.
At the end of play today the Americans are followed closely by New Zealanders Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie who posted two seconds and the Netherland's Margriet Fokkema and Marieke Jongens on five points, the highly rated Dutch defending World Champions Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout having finished a disappointing 19th in the first race, after they were forced to recover from an OCS.
Jo Aleh, who finished seventh in the Laser Radial at the 2008 Olympic Games, compared today's conditions off the Hague to racing in Qingdao. 'The current was the funny bit. It was crazy, some of the starts - it was China all over again! Light wind, everyone sailing downwind with a minute to go." In such strong tide Aleh advises it is essential to play safe and make as few mistakes as possible, for the penalty for errors is much more costly. 'You can't get away from it - you just have to not make mistakes. I don't think we did that much right, I just think we didn't do too much wrong. It was just simple stuff - we didn't freak out too much!"
In such conditions the general consensus is that the 2010 Delta Lloyd 470 World Championships will be a high scoring regatta. Fortunately the forecast shows the wind building over the course of the week, peaking at 18 knots on Thursday afternoon.
Event web site: http://www.470worlds2010.com/
International 470 Class Association: http://www.470.org
Text: James Boyd