Greece & Italy lead after Qualifiers at Haifa
160 boats, 320 sailors from 6 continents, are competing in the 420 World Championships 2010 in Haifa, Israel.
Organised by the Haifa Sailing Club and the Haifa Municipality, in conjunction with the International 420 Class Association, this coincides with celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the launching of the first 420 and the first Class Association. Launching from the Hashaket Beach, the ‘quiet beach’ (well, at least until the 420s arrived!), the event is benefiting from recent modernisation and improvements to Haifa Sailing Club.
The conditions here have been excellent from training and practice to the first two days of racing at the Championship, the Qualifying Series, in which rotating pairs of flights of all the boats in both the Open and Ladies’ fleets have each had six races. Competitors, coaches and Race committee have been delighted with the conditions, mostly with winds of 17 – 22 knots, dropping later on the second day, and long waves. For all when on shore, the sun has been hot, perhaps 30o+ and quite humid, so maintaining hydration has been a priority.
The leaders of the Open Fleet going into the Final series are Georgios Vasilas & Stamatia Fragiadaki of Greece. A veteran 420 helm, he sailed in the 2003 Worlds at Hayling Island, Georgios a 470 sailor, who has returned to the challenge of 420 sailing for this Championship has teamed up with Stamatia, a competitor in the 2008 & 2009 World Championships. In second overall, are Clément Ikhlef & Clément Pequin (FRA), who were 25th at the 2009 Worlds on Garda and 7th this year in the competitive international field at CIMA in Marseille. Justin Liu & Sherman Cheng (SIN), winners of the 2007 Junior Europeans, Champions from the Asian Games in Doha and winners of the Australian Open Champs, are still showing that they are top of their game winning Kieler Woche in June. But there is no lack of pressure on the top three. Winners at CIMA and veteran 420 competitors, Edoardo Mancinelli Scotti & Leonardo Cucchiara (ITA) are close on their tails in 4th, together with South American Champions, Pablo Volker & Agustin Cunill Martinez (ARG) in 5th.
In the Ladies Fleet, Roberta Caputo & Benedetta Barbiero (ITA) led the Qualifying Series. Members of C Savoia SS, Caputo and Barbiero, who lead the Women’s rankings in Italy (just – they have three strong women’s teams in Italy, ranked 4th, 5th and 6th overall), were 14th at the Worlds at Riva last year.
On equal points, in 2nd on countback, Daniela Adler & Kahena Kunze (BRA) are veterans of previous campaigns too. Queens of versatility! Dani, a very experienced 420 crew – 4th at last year’s Worlds– as well as in the 29er at the 2008 Aarhus ISAF Youths, both with Martine Grael. But now she is helming for the first time this year, winning the Brazilian Nationals, with Kahena, on their first outing. Having sailed the 29er at the Ontario ISAF Youths in 2007, she crewed, with Martine Grael, to Gold at last year’s ISAF Youths at Buzios in the 420. So now the girls are on their own and doing great!
In third overall are Rachel Lee & Cecilia Low of Singapore. Rachel was Optimist Champion at the 2007 Asian Games, and her new crew is not new to us. Cecilia, Bronze Medallist at the 2009 ISAF Youths and winning Women’s crew at this year’s Australian Nationals with Griselda Khng, has newly paired up with Rachel, campaigning for selection for this year’s Asian Games in China. But the British women are close behind these leaders, with Rebecca Kalderon & Katrina Brewer (Becca was at last year’s ISAF Youths and took Women’s Gold at the Junior Euros in Balaton) and Joanna Freeman & Hannah Mitchell (GBR) freshly back from their 4th in Istanbul at this year’s ISAFs.
We talked with Ron Barak, Race Officer, before the start of the event and then after racing each day, who told us of the Barabanza, the summer wind, which prevails and has given most of the strength to Qualifying Series, so much enjoyed by the leaders. The wind tends to turn between the East and the North in the evenings. The wind coming off Mount Carmel creates some interesting conditions for the sailors, especially on the Outer Loop. With the wind moving progressively to the right through the day, each race has a slightly different beat. The waters of the race area have a depth of 10 – 20 metres, sailing approximately 1.2 miles out. With the two Fleets alternating, mornings and afternoons, Ron reported at the end of racing on the first day, “a long day”, with around 17 knots for the Open in the morning and 20 kn for the Ladies in the afternoon. At the starts, the Open Fleet were “very nervous, pushing the line”, whereas the “girls were very polite, especially in the first race” – overall 30+ OCS and BFDs in the day.
Roberto Caputo & Benedetta Barbiero described sailing in Haifa as “fantastic..,. we like the wind!” Each race is “similar, pressure on the left, we like the waves, surfing downwind!”. Rachel Lee commented that “the standard of racing is very high, but the wind is good….we like the waves, we like the weather…..but it is a bit hot!”. Becca Kalderon spoke of the ”really nice wind, best we have had” and reiterated, the “downwind is fun!”. Team colleagues, but keen rivals, Jo Freeman & Hannah Mitchell said, “Pretty breezy….breeze on!. But Linda Fahrni & Maja Siegenthaler (SUI), Gold Medallists at the 2010 ISAF Youth Worlds, were more reserved at the end of the second day, in spite of a 2nd and a 5th over the two, they were finding the big waves difficult. The conditions in Istanbul had been relatively light, more like the flatter water conditions at home. Dani Adler was excited about her second only championship outing as a helm – the first with maybe 15 boats at the Brazilian Nationals, and here with 70+. “We were very good upwind, but more to learn downwind” she said. Kahena Kunze added, “very difficult, different to Brazil, the waves are huge here, but we like it!”.
After the first day’s racing, we caught up with Francesco Falcetelli & Gabriele Franciolini (ITA), who declared the “wind good, but very hot!” and were pleased with the building wind strength and “a lot of waves”. Mike Wood and Hugh Brayshaw of GBR also spoke of the wind and the waves – “good length to the courses in general, with the outer Loop trickier than the inner”, added Mike. Leading USA helm, Jordan Factor exclaimed, “I like it a lot, wind everyday! (at so many events you have to wait for the wind). The more you sail here, the better you know, with similar days….it is good that we came early to train….it could be a difficult area if you do not know where the shifts are coming from”.
After Day 2, Justin Liu (SIN) confirmed that the conditions for the Open Fleet in the afternoon had been “more tricky today, the wind dropped off – perhaps 3 – 6 knots - and we have a shorter chop”. Other veterans of 420 campaigns, Eduardo Scotti and Leonardo Cucchiara had enjoyed a good Committee Boat end start in the first race to the windward mark, enjoying the ‘good wind of 12 – 14 kn”, only to be overtaken by the SINs in this race. But the second race was not so good, with a lot of shifts, ending for them in 3rd and in the last race there were “crazy shifts!”, so they made do with a 6th, but a strong 4th overall into the Final Series. The last word goes to Georgiou Vasilis, ”sailing is about brain… and you need a lot of it!”.
Following the intense days of training, practice and Qualifying Series, the sailors were ready to party, so it was off to a special beach set aside for them. Meanwhile, the coaches, team managers and race officials, together with representatives from the Municipality of Haifa, Haifa Sailing Club and the Israeli Sailing Federation, as well as Presidents of the 420 National Classes from many countries gathered in the new “square” at the Haifa Sailing Club for a special 50th Anniversary party. Welcomed by the President of the International 420 Class, Nino Shmueli, they were briefly addressed by Israeli Olympians, Shimshon Brokman & Eitan Friedlaender, the 420 World Champions in 1980 in Quiberon. The visitors had already learnt from their days in Israel, the importance of good food here, but this was nothing to the spread laid on for them by the President of the Israeli 420 Class, Dani Dekel and his wife Nira, and their family. Excellent food and good company made for a highlight to this Championship. Followed by the lay day – when some made visits to Jerusalem and Galilee, but most others spent time in the Bhai Gardens or the quarters, museums, including the World leading National Maritime Museum, and other attractions of Haifa, not least the Haf-Carmel beach front.
On Thursday the Final Series start – three days of intense competition are to be expected.
Open Leaders after Qualifiers:
1 Georgios Vasilas & Stamatia Fragiadaki (GRE) 14 pts
2 Clément Ikhlef & Clément Pequin (FRA) 16 pts
3 Justin Liu & Sherman Cheng (SIN) 18 pts
4 Edoardo Mancinelli Scotti & Leonardo Cucchiara (ITA) 19 pts
5 Pablo Volker & Agustin Cunill Martinez (ARG) 23 pts
6 Guillaume Pirouelle & Valentin Sipan (FRA) 27 pts
7 Navee Thamsoontorn & Atiwat Chomtongdee (THA) 29 pts
8 Malte Winkel & Lucas Thielemann (GER) 36 pts
9 Hugo Feydit & Pierre Rhimbault (FRA) 36 pts
10 Francesco Falcetelli & Gabriele Franciolini (ITA) 43 pts
11Yoav Levi & Dan Frouliche (ISR) 45 pts
12 Benjamin Grez & Carlos Vergara (CHI) 50 pts
13 Mike Wood & Hugh Brayshaw (GBR) 50 pts
14 Jordan Factor & Matt Wefer (USA) 56 pts
15 Santiago & David Mas (ESP) 59 pts
Ladies’ Leaders after Qualifiers:
1 Roberta Caputo & Benedetta Barbiero (ITA) 15 pts
2 Daniela Adler & Kahena Kunze (BRA) 15 pts
3 Rachel Lee & Cecilia Low (SIN) 16 pts
4 Rebecca Kalderon & Katrina Brewer (GBR) 17 pts
5 Joanna Freeman & Hannah Mitchell (GBR) 21 pts
6 Maelenn Lemaitre & Aloise Retornaz (FRA) 29 pts
7 Anna Burnet & Flora Stewart (GBR) 31 pts
8 Carlota Massana & Ana Lobo (ESP) 31 pts
9 Cecile Gutierrez & Zoe Poncelet )FRA) 35 pts
10 Barbara Cornudella & Sara Lopez (ESP) 35 pts
11 Nikole Bames & Agustina Barbuto (ISV) 39 pts
12 Pauline Mazzochi & Gwenaelle Berhault (FRA) 42 pts
13 Sara Amendola & Giulia Paolillo (ITA) 42 pts
14 Svenja & Weger & Wiebke Lechler (GER) 44 pts
15 Morgan & Kiss Katia Da Silva (USA) 45 pts