49er Worlds – Willcox & Tarboton Kick Off their Qualification Campaign

mallorca 49erGraeme Willcox reports as follows:
Yesterday was a big day for us. This was what we have been training for during te last three years. We have done all the training we can and tried to learn all we can over this time, and it is now time to put it to good use.

We launched into a light easterly which was forecast to build and swing to the SE later in the day. The RC got the first race under way on time and it was a great start for us near the committee boat. We tacked off towards the favoured right hand side and once the header arrived we tacked back onto starboard into a nice lane and made our way to the top mark. The fleet arrived pretty much at the same time and we managed to get around cleanly and gybe set to get back to the pressure on the right of the course. At the leeward gate we were forced into the left hand mark and got pinned heading out to the left. It seemed OK as we were on a slight lift so we stuck it out waiting for the header to emerge. But it got worse as the lift increased. Now we were 30 degrees up and looking over our shoulders we could see the majority of the fleet lifting inside of us. We had to stick it out and hope for it to flick back. It didn’t we rounded second last, and made one spot back on the run to finish the first race a disappointing 27th.

The second race was in similar conditions. With the course shifted 30 degree to the right. After a set of waves we found ourselves battling to hold our lane so we tacked off towards the right into a good lane. We rounded the weather mark in a mid-fleet position and made our way down the run. Holding our position we had some rounding disputes and an Italian team barging in with no rights. We got out cleanly and we’re heading off to the right of the course again. The wind was more steady for this beat. Working hard to keep the boat moving we rounded in a similar position at the second weather mark and headed down the run to the finish. The pack arrive at the finish line together and we had no idea who got who, and it turned out we picked up a 23rd.

The last race of the day was in a little bit more wind from the same heading as the second race. We were a bit slow off the line and had to find a lane out, we tacked to port only to have the Brazilians tack on top of us. So we went back on starboard up the middle. Again we rounded in the mid-fleet and held this position until the last top mark. Here we did a straight hoist just behind two of the top teams, the Germans and British, and rode over the German team on the way down to the favoured side of the run and then proceeded to pass the British team by the time we got to the finish. We picked up a 21st and this left us in 57th overall.

It isn’t the start we were hoping for, results wise, but a lot of things came together today and we still have two more days of qualifying to do.

With the Olympic slots going to the teams positioned in 1,3 & 5 it is not likely we will get to qualify.

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