Podium begins to take shape as the top sailors battle in windy conditions
Adelaide, Australia – Big breeze and steep swells were on the menu for the first day of Finals racing at the 2024 Wireless Communications ILCA 7 Men’s World Championship in Adelaide.
The gold fleet was eager to get started as sailors forced four general recalls in the opening race, three of them under the black flag, and a total of seven sailors ended up disqualified under black flag rules.
Reigning champion Matt Wearn may have held back on the black flag starts, potentially weary of being spotted over the line in his bright yellow leaders’ jersey and buried in the mid-fleet at the first windward mark. He backed it up with a dominant race win in the second race to end the day with a one-point lead over British rival Micky Beckett.
Beckett continued his consistent run of form, remaining within striking distance heading into the last day of Finals racing and, ultimately, Wednesday’s 10-boat medal race. He mentioned that while the windy and wavy Adelaide conditions were incredibly challenging, it was something all ILCA 7 sailors trained and prepared for.
“You practice in this, you go to the gym a lot and eat a lot, and then go to the gym and then complain about it, and then eat some more,” Beckett joked.
“We’re lucky enough to be full time professionals so we kind of dedicate our lives to trying to be able to deal with (windy conditions), it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt but it gives us a chance really. We’ve only got four gold fleet races in total so tomorrow is half of that and then the medal race the following day so there’s not much bandwidth. It’s looking like quite a low-scoring regatta, so we’ll just have to see how it plays out tomorrow and take it one race at a time.”
While the tantalizing Wearn-Beckett rivalry continues to heat up, Norwegian Hermann Tomasgaard continues knocking on the door in third place, clinching a powerful win in today’s opening race and ending the day just four points off the lead.
“It’s been a very good regatta for me so far, I’ve been struggling a little bit since the (Tokyo) Games, it’s been okay results but a lot of results that are just top 10,” he recalled.
“I feel like I’ve been struggling a little bit with the speed but it’s started to come together better here now. Today we had a really strong sea breeze, we came out and it looked like it was not going to be so strong but then it picked up before the first race and for the second race it was proper windy.”
While the remainder of the top 10 drifts out of reach for podium positions, it remains all to play for heading into the final two days with only eight points separating fourth through to ninth.
The battle for Olympic qualification is also highly competitive, with seven remaining ILCA 7 Olympic berths up for grabs among 15 countries in the gold fleet, which shows just how important the next two days of racing will be.
Those who prefer stronger winds will be looking forward to the current forecast, with Adelaide expected to hold nothing back for the world’s best sailors on the final two days.
Full results: CLICK HERE
Text by: Harry Fisher, Down Under Sail / Edited by ILCA
Photos by: Jack Fletcher, Down Under Sail
Videos by: Jordan Roberts, Down Under Sail