Photos: Laurens Morel

Besson and Riou into the lead

Just one race held for the gold fleet at the Nacra 17 Worlds in Den Haag

Thursday July 25th 2013, Author: Marjolein Brandt, Location: Netherlands

On the first day of the final series, the French Billy Besson and Marie Riou have extended their lead at the Nacra 17 Worlds in The Hague, Netherlands.

As forecast, it was again a sunny and quiet day. The sailors got more time to recover from a full day on the water yesterday, with the AP up until 16:12 after which the race committee managed to get in just one race for the Gold Fleet.

After the breeze shifted to the west and picked up to 8-10 knots, the boats were sent out for the second time today. The British crew of Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond took an early lead, followed by the French Moana Vaireaux/Manon Audinet and Billy Besson/Marie Riou.

As Riou recounts: "We were third at the first upwind mark and stayed behind the British until the gate. On that run we already gained some distance. We had a good speed and we had a little fight with the other French boat and the British. In the second beat we were able to take over the lead, where after we kept that position."

Saxton and Diamond finished second, followed by Vaireaux and Audinet. This is also the overall ranking to date, with a seven points gap between the top two.

Besson and Riou had a difficult start of the Nacra 17 World Championship with a 21st position in the light conditions. According to Besson however they don't have favourite conditions. "We like to play the game. There is a strong current, so it is difficult for everybody. You have to think about your tactics all the time, which is really nice." Asked whether his victory in the F18 Worlds prior to this Nacra 17 Worlds had boosted his motivation, Besson laughed and Riou answers: "Yes, he is definitely in the winning mood."

Second placed Saxton/Diamond commented: "It looked like it was going to be a five knot race, but then pre-start it filled in to 10 knots. We were having quite a lot fun but then it dropped off to probably seven or eight knots for the race. We still had one person trapezing upwind and the other one occasionally, and we were flying a hull downwind. It was good fun. We sailed well today - we got on the start line early and held our space. We had an okay start, managed to hold our lane for 30 seconds to a minute, tacked out went right and got some good pressure. We were really quick after that, both upwind and downwind so that was good news."

Dutch duo Mandy Mulder and Thijs Visser won the qualification series, tied on points with Besson and Riou, but they lost points today with a 18th position. Mulder explained: "We chose the wrong side of the course. We had a good start and planned to go to the left, which we did. It was hazy, so we saw the boats on the right a bit later. The current seemed to give the wrong picture as well. First it looked like we were doing good business, until we tacked. They were far ahead and gone. This strong current makes it impossible to make up for any losses. This result is a real pity, especially because our discard in the qualification series was a fourth. Now, we can only hope for four more races. We have two days left."

Mulder and Visser are currently in sixth position, one point behind number five.

There are three final races needed to start the Medal Race and five to discard the worst result. That makes two discards: one in the qualification and one in the final series. For tomorrow there are three races planned for the Silver fleet and two for the Gold, but the weather forecast remains the biggest challenge.

Gold fleet results here

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