USA skiff teams lead from the front on day one in Auckland
Photo courtesy of Matias Capizzano.
The USA 49er and 49erFX skiff teams blitzed day one of the Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 Oceania Championship, the women’s pairing of Stephanie Robel and Maggie Shea posting an ominous low score, thanks to two wins and a third, to lead the fleet and Rio 2016 gold medallists Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze of Brazil by 7 points.
Reigning European and world champions Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz (NED) are two points off second after three races on Waitemata Harbour in Auckland, New Zealand.
On their opening performance Roble said, “It was 10-15 knots and as the day went on the current started building from the north, and that made it choppy and tricky all-round. We really focused on good start execution, keeping eyes forward looking at what pressure was coming down the course and trying to sail big lanes upwind, to let it rip and get to the pressure. We are excited about how we sailed.”
The talented FX duo spent a couple of weeks learning the course areas at the beginning of the month and the first day of the Oceanias, Monday November 26, was also their first day back on the water after that intensive training block.
“When we were last here we learned a good bit about the current and just tried to spend time getting familiar with the race courses. I think it’s a pretty unique venue with all the land, so it’s hard to make ‘rules’ for different courses,” Roble admitted.
Many of the teams competing at the warmup Oceania Championship and then the World Championship, December 3 – 8 hosted by Royal Akarana Yacht Club, not only have to concentrate on reining in the best sailors in the world, some have to beat up on their mates to be selected for Tokyo 2020.
Athletes need world-class training partners to become Olympic medal contenders, but cruelly there is only one country spot available for each class of boat.
The US switched from having a single Olympic trial regatta to using a range of world championships and pre-Olympic events for selection, and Auckland is the first of a critical two-event series.
“This is the start of our trials, a two-event series made up of these worlds and the next at Geelong in February. The team with the lowest points will go to the Games,” Roble added. When asked about the pressure of internal qualification she commented: “We’ve just been focusing on our own processes and getting better each day, and each event. It’s a world championship and we are here to win.”
Also wrestling for selection to the U.S Olympic Sailing Team is Paris Henken and Anna Tobias who had a day one outing they will put down to experience, posting an 18th, UFD (black flag disqualification) and rounding out with a very promising second in race 3.
For the USA’s men’s 49er teams, the world championship is particularly important as the Olympic country qualifier, as well as being part of the U.S Olympic trials.
Leading the 49er fleet three races into the three-day Oceania Championship is Andrew Mollerus and Ian MacDiarmid (USA) and second on the Nacra 17 scoresheet is another USA team, Riley Gibbs and Anna Weis.
SidelineApp is offering free live and on demand streaming for the Oceanias and a special subscription price on its World Championship coverage up until November 30. For information on how to get up and running, click here.