Qingdao, China (September 21, 2016) – The Sailing World Cup Qingdao offered light winds on day one, consistent with the reputation the venue gained during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. With most of the Rio Olympians taking a break, an open entry to the event is offering many new campaigners in the region critical experience on international World Cup circuit.
With a Rio 2016 silver medal under his belt, Croatia’s Tonci Stipanovic must have fancied his chances coming in to the Sailing World Cup Qingdao, and after day one he certainly will a bit more.
Taking a bullet in the first race, and following that up with a third place, Stipanovic leads with four points from Great Britain’s Lorenzo Brando Chiavarini in second. Right from the outset a confident Stipanovic used his vast sailing knowledge to trust he could be in the right place at the right time, “The first race was quite good from the start for me. I wasn’t sure what way the pressure was coming so I started in the middle and played it left or right depending on what I felt. I was second at the upward mark then got in front of Finn [Lynch] and from there it was easy for me.”
Stipanovic has been in this position before, and sailed Qingdao before, so he is using that knowledge and putting it to great effect, “It was typical Chinese conditions today I think. Light wind. Strong current. The second race the current dropped though so it didn’t play to much of a part in the race.”
Although confident post racing, it didn’t come all that easy for the Olympic silver medallist, “The second race I started on the left and winds started to go right. I was round the first mark in about 12th. I managed to get myself up the fleet though and finish in third.”
Winning an Olympic medal can be the highlight of your career, add in to be the first person from your country to win a sailing medal, you could be forgiven for thinking Stipanovic would take it easy, but you’d be wrong, “Qingdao was in my schedule and we have Melbourne [Sailing World Cup Final] at the end of the year and I think it’s good to stay in racing mode. I won’t have any regattas after this one before Melbourne so it is an important regatta for me.”
It would seem that all regattas are important to the Croatian as it’s more than just a competition, it’s a way of life, “Even when the Olympics finished I sailed in a Star regatta. I live and love sailing and its normal for me to be in a boat. I may take a break after this and recharge though before the final.”
From one end of the scale to the other, Sweden’s young sailor Erik Lindsten didn’t have the best of days on the waters of Qingdao, but for him it’s about more learning rather than results so early in his career, “It’s an opportunity to come and do a World Cup. I spoke to three sailors from home who came last year and they said it was amazing. It’s great to see China and to race here.”
So how was the racing for the young Swede? “Maybe we can talk about before the two races,” he said laughing. “It’s a cool place you know and it’s a great opportunity for me.”
Linsten laughs because racing didn’t quite go as planned for him. He continues with a light-hearted laugh and a smile on his face and says, “If we have to talk about the races, I just had two really bad starts that I just screwed up. The racing was good though and it’s great to say I sailed in the same fleet as people like Tonci. I tried to stay with him at the start but god he is fast.”
Linsten scored a 30th and 31st place on day one, but with the Swedes outlook the experience will be more than what the scoreboard says.
Sitting in second overall is Chiavarini on eight points from a seventh place in race one and a bullet in race two. Chiavarini is just ahead of Ireland’s young gun, Finn Lynch. Lynch is in third on ten points from a 2, 8 day and brings confidence from being his country’s youngest Olympic helmsman to the World Cup regatta.
Laser Radial Women
China’s Dongshuang Zhang made the perfect start to the Laser Radial by taking two bullets from two races. It leaves Zhang sitting top of the leaderboard at the end of day one on two points and with a three-point lead over compatriot Rubei Yuan.
Yuan scored a second and third from the first day and is just ahead of Finland’s Monika Mikkola who gasps, “The Chinese sailors are just so fast.”
Mikkola sits on six points with a second and fourth place finish, but although the speed of the Chinese sailors impresses her, it is something else Qingdao offers that takes her attention even more, “It’s my first time here and I quite like it, but it is really tricky with the current. We don’t really have current in Finland so water moving under me was something very new, but I’m trying to learn.”
With two top four finishes it would seem from the outside that Mikkola is dealing with the current pretty well for her first time, but the Finnish sailor doesn’t think so, “Sometimes the results don’t give you the big picture. You can sail badly sometimes really badly and make an ok result, and I think that’s what happened to me today. I thought I sailed badly. I forgot the current like 100% of the time. I was over the lay line, hitting the mark, then over the lay line. I really have to remember the current.”
You have to wonder, if forgetting the current you sit third overall after the first day of racing, what can a sailor do when they remember the current. It could be an interesting few days to see how Mikkola handles the new element.
Behind Mikkola, China’s Weiyi Lu sits in fourth on the leaderboard with 11 points from a 3,8 day and Hungary’s Maria Erdi is in fifth with 12 points.
Manjia Zheng (CHN) had a day of opposing emotions in the Women’s RS:X. Beginning the first race with a disqualification wouldn’t be the ideal start for any sailor in a regatta with only one discard. From there though Zheng took two straight bullets which gives her the top spot overall with two points.
Just behind on the leaderboard is Hongmei Shi (CHN) who couldn’t get any more seconds if she tried. Second on the leaderboard. Second in race one. Second in race two. And you guessed it, second in race three. Shi has four points overall but does have the advantage of consistent high finishes over compatriot Zheng who sits in first.
With seven points and third on the leaderboard is Jiao Ma (CHN). Taking the first bullet of the regatta, a sixth and discarded ninth were to follow. Ma is equal on points with Xiaoqing Yu (CHN)
Two bullets and a third place gives China’s Chunzhuang Liu the overnight lead from Bing Ye (CHN) in second. Liu discards the third place finish which leaves him with two points while Ye has four points with a 2,2,3 day.
Zhichao Zhang (CHN) lies in third with five points from a second, third and discarded fourth. Mengfan Gao (CHN) is three points back on eight points taking the first bullet of the day but then slipping back to card a seventh and discarded eighth.
With a perfect start to the Sailing World Cup Qingdao, China’s Mengxi Wei and Yani Xu sit on top of the Women’s 470 fleet with two points. Obviously enjoying the home waters, the pair already have a five-point advantage over nearest rivals Shengnan Ni and Lizhu Huang (CHN) at the end of the first day.
Ni and Huang scored a 3,4 to end on seven points but will hope that the coming days are not dominated like day one by their compatriots.
Just behind in third overall is Nan Zhang and Xiao Lu (CHN) who scored a second place and sixth place finish. Again Zhang and Lu will have to come out fighting to ensure that Ni and Huang don’t run away with from the fleet.
China’s Hao Lan and Chao Wang lead the way in the Men’s 470 fleet with a solid first and second place finish in the two races of the day. Giving them three points, their nearest rivals are Liangdao Weng and Youjian Wen who sit in second and two points back from Lan and Wang. Their five-point total is made up of a bullet and a fourth place.
A small gap has opened already at the top with third placed Mingliang Ding and Hongri Liu five points adrift of second. A second placed finish in the first race of the day was followed up by a ninth place to give them 11 points in total.
Japan’s Sho Kaminoki and Taisei Hikadi and Italy’s Simon Sivitz Kosuta and Jas Farneti make up the top five. Both teams have 13 points.
Leading the Finn class is Lei Gong (CHN) on three points from a bullet and second placed finish on day one. He Chen (CHN) took the other bullet on offer from the day, but with a sixth place to accompany that win he sits in third seven points. Sandwiched between the two in second overall is Xin Li (CHN) who has six points from a fourth and second place finish.
Event details – Scoreboard – Facebook
With racing on September 21 to 25, Sailing World Cup Qingdao is the fifth regatta of the 2016 World Cup series with 142 sailors from 21 nations competing across seven Olympic classes – 470 Men and Women, Laser Men and Radial Women, RS:X Men and Women, and Finn – at the home of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition. After Sailing World Cup Qingdao, the season concludes at Sailing World Cup Final on December 4-11 in Melbourne, Australia.
Source: Richard Aspland – World Sailing