Photos: Thom Touw

Another breezy start

Croatian teams dominate on the opening day of the Delta Lloyd Regatta

Tuesday May 24th 2011, Author: Corinne Rolland-McKenzie, Location: Netherlands

The Delta Lloyd regatta, the fifth event in the ISAF Sailing World Cup is following the trend of the previous European Olympic class events this year, in having had a windy opening day. The strong northeasterly made for excellent racing and thrills in all the classes.

The Croatian teams have made the best of the tough conditions taking the top spots in the 470 Men, Laser and Finn classes.

Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic opened the scoring in the 470 Men's race with a victory and a third to take the lead. “We are happy. We had a great day of sailing," said Fantela. "With such a strong wind it was important to sail conservatively and not capsize. We made two tactical mistakes in the second race and placed third. A great way to start the regatta!”

Local heroes Sven and Calle Coster are on equal points to the Croats but hold second place with the Greek teams of Mantis Panagiotis/Pavlos Kagialis and Kampouridis/Papadopoulos who have collected the same results in their respective group with a fifth and a bullet in the second race to share the third position. World #1 Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS) won the first race in their group and posted a seventh in the second.

The breeze lovers claimed the day in the Laser with Milan Vujasinovic took bullets in both races in his group to lead the 120+ strong Laser fleet. “I know I have good speed in the breeze, but I also started well both times. It was also a matter to be patient and wait for the right shift. The rest was not an issue.”

2010 ISAF Sailor of the Year and reigning World Champion, Tom Slingsby holds in second place, two points ahead of the Netherlands' Roelof Bouwmeester and Slingsby's team mate Tom Burton. “There were tough conditions” admitted Bouwmeester. “I had good results, but didn't sail as well as I hoped. Tomorrow I need to focus more and I know I can improve.”

In the Finn, World no1, Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) and British World Champion Ed Wright are sharing the top places. They are on equal points at the head of the standings with third place going to 20 year old Canadian, Greg Douglas.

The competition is fierce in the Laser Radial, with most of the ISAF ranked top ten racing at the Delta Lloyd Regatta. Defending champion Marit Bouwmeester (NED) has taken the lead after posting first and a second places, in front of Ireland's Annalise Murphy and Belgian Evi van Acker. In fourth and fifth places are Beijing Silver and Bronze medallists Gintare Scheidt (LTU) and Xu Lijia (CHN). “With started both under a black flag, and it was tricky, but I am fast in the breeze and have chosen to take it easy on the start and sail safe,” explained Marit Bouwmeester.

In the absence of most class favourites, 36 women are participating in the RS:X. From the nine Chinese windsurfers on the starting line, five entered the top ten after the first two races, with Li Ling coming out on top. Japan's Yuki Sunaga holds second overall with Israel's Mayaan Davidovich third.

The RS:X Men is also missing most of its leading lights who are training in Weymouth prior to Sail For Gold. However, there are 14 different countries in the top 15. JP Tobin (NZL) and local hero Dorian van Rijsselberge share the victories in first and second position overall.

In the 470 Women, the Beijing Bronze medallists from Brazil are battling it out at the top of the results. Isabel Swan now crewing with Martine Grael and the new pair of Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Luiza Barbachan, are first and second in the 27 boat fleet. Class favourites, Jaoan's Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata, or Spanish duo of Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos, winner in Hyères, were penalised for being OCS in the second race and are currently in 13th and 19th positions respectively.

Australia's double world champion Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are making a great comeback to Olympic competition after winning two out of the three races sailing in the 49er. The defending champions are starting the event with a 13 points lead over compatriots Will and Sam Phillips. 2007 World champions from the UK, Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes are third overall.

The Women's Match Racing has completed half of its qualification stage. In Group A, team Echegoyen (ESP) is undefeated with four wins. In the group B, Ekaterina Skudina's Russian team also won all four of their matches.

Thierry Schmitter (NED) has enjoyed the challenging conditions in the breeze posting two bullets with Britain's Megan Pascoe holding second with top two placings, while Australian Matt Bugg is third overall.

With over 30 knots clocked on their racing area, the Stars were postponed until 1700 to allow for the wind to settle. It was still around 20 knots when the Star fleet started their first race after 1800. Two races were held with Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson claiming the first and Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada the second. At the close of play the Brazilians lead.

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