After the heavy conditions earlier in the week, the light on Friday meant only four of the ten classes got out into Aarhus Bay and racing continued until the sun went down. The sailors have been through the spectrum of conditions so far.
But class shone through and to a woman and a man all those pushing hard for the podium in the medal races on Saturday and Sunday believe they are laying down markers for next year’s World Championships.
“Next year the Worlds are really important, so being here and the preparation is really valuable,” said Nicholas Heiner, the Dutch former laser world champion, who retained his lead of the Finn after a solid second and fifth place. On a day when others saw their chances slip, Zsombor Berecz (Hungary) won the first race and finished fourth in the second, to close the gap, and those two are clear at the top.
“You want to understand the racing, but you also want to know what the culture is, what the food is like and where to stay, and now I have the majority of that in place,” said Heiner, who is part of one of sailing’s many dynasties – his father Roy won bronze in the Finn in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and then won the Volvo Ocean Race in 2005-06.
“Overall it’s been good day. I was a bit disappointed with the last race, I was second round the top mark and finished fourth or fifth (fifth). I was sailing really nice strategically in the upwinds, playing the shifts really well, always about third around the top.”
As Heiner added, it was definitely a day for being at the right place at the right time: “Yes, it was about getting the pressure, getting the right shift, it’s not rocket science but it’s hard to get to the right place on time.”
Underlining the strength of the field, Heiner is outcompeting Olympic champions and heavyweights from the Rio Olympics, like the Swede, Max Salminen, gold medalist in the Star at the London Olympics in 2012 and close to bronze in the Rio Olympics last year before finishing sixth. Salminen was upbeat even as he dropped away from the podium – he is now lying eighth.
“It’s been great sailing conditions,” Salminen said. “We’ve had a mix. It hasn’t been my best event yet. This is this first time I’ve raced here. It’s a nice venue and the Danish are doing a great job to make it a good event, it’s very welcoming.
That’s what we’re hoping for (to have an advantage for next year), that’s why we’re here, to know what to expect, to understand the waves in this bay, they’re often quite skewed to the wind.”
Experience counts for a lot and Denmark’s 49erFX Olympic bronze medalists in Rio, Jena Mai Hansen and Katja Salskov-Iversen, have utterly dominated the fleet. Although local knowledge is not quite what it seems…yet. Both are more used to sailing around Copenhagen, but Hansen moved to Aarhus with her boyfriend, Ireland’s 49er sailor, Ryan Seaton in February. “I live just in the harbour, so, it’s very convenient,” Hansen said after they finished first, second and second to tighten their vice-like grip on the fleet.
“It was nice to get some light wind racing in because these other days it’s been more windy,” Salskov-Iversen said. “We’re from Copenhagen, but in Denmark generally you learn to expect everything because you never know what’s going to come. That’s why we’re here, to learn. Even for us, we haven’t been in Aarhus that much, and I don’t think you can be here too much either.”
Experience of another kind is helping the Australian 49er pair, the brothers Phillips, William and Sam, who held on to the lead by a point on a day of shifting fortunes and big numbers at the top.
“We’re really happy with the racing, we finished with two fifth places (out of the three races yesterday), which considering how unstable and shifty it was is really pleasing,” Phillips, W said. “We had five knots max and there were lots of big holes and short courses. We’ve really got to know Aarhus and the conditions. In a year’s time that will be a big boost to the planning.”
The Danish pair leading the Nacra 17, Lin Ea Cenholt and Christian Peter Lubeck, have a similarly slender advantage over their fleet heading into Saturday’s medal race, after finishing third in their single race yesterday. But it looks like now they will be the Test Event champions after the medal race was cancelled on Friday night. A statement posted by World Sailing said:
“The Nacra 17 medal races scheduled for Saturday 12 August are cancelled.World Sailing received a notification from Nacra Sailing on Friday 11 August stating that are recalling all foiling configuration Nacra 17s (including retrofitted versions) in order to replace the bearings for the dagger boards. Nacra Sailing has urged all owners not to sail these boats until the replacement bearings are fitted.”
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Facts about the Hempel Sailing World Championships Aarhus Denmark 2018:
- Held every four years, the Sailing World Championships is one of the biggest global sailing events in the world and the principal qualification event for the Olympic sailing competition.
- Hempel Sailing World Championships Aarhus Denmark 2018 will include all 10 Olympic boat classes. Kiteboarding will be added to the programme for the first time.
- The ambition is to make the championships in Aarhus a unique and spectacular event, where sailing is made more popular and accessible than ever before.
- In terms of the number of participants, the Hempel Sailing World Championships Aarhus Denmark 2018 will be more than three times bigger than the event at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
- Hempel Sailing World Championships Aarhus 2018 is the first big qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and Enoshima (sailing).
- Held simultaneously with the Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, a large festival will provide opportunities visiting families to get out on the water.
- Dates: July 30 –August 12, 2018.
- The Hempel Sailing World Championships Aarhus Denmark 2018 are organised by The Danish Sailing Association, Sailing Aarhus, City of Aarhus and Sport Event Denmark.
- 1,000 sailboats
- 1,400 participants from approx. 85 nations
- 1,500 officials, managers and coaches
- The event expects to draw 400,000 visitors to Aarhus.
- 1,100 volunteers
Facts about Aarhus & Denmark:
- Aarhus - or “Aros” as the city was called in the Viking Age - means “mouth of the river”.
- Aarhus is surrounded by water, with a 20km coastline and one of the world’s
- cleanest bays to the east.
- Denmark has 7,314km of coastline
- Denmark has a population of 5,602,628.
- Aarhus is Denmark’s second largest city with a population of 324,000. There are approximately 1.5 million people within one hour`s drive.
- Denmark has 270 sailing clubs.
- Sailing Aarhus is made up of five sailing clubs, who have hosted over 300 international regattas in the last 25 years.
- Denmark has won 30 Olympic sailing medals; 12 gold, 9 silver and 9 bronze, more than any other Olympic sport.
- The Bay of Aarhus has an area of approximately 150km², water depth varies between 10 and 25m.