Olympic champion, Giles Scott, from Britain has taken the lead at the Olympic Test Event – Ready Steady Tokyo – after only one race was possible on the second day of competition due to light winds. Zsombor Berecz, from Hungary, drops to second while Nicholas Heiner, from The Netherlands, drops to third. The race was finally won by Jorge Zarif, from Brazil.
After several days of strong winds, the day began calmer with long delays on shore. When the fleet was finally sent out, the delay continued on the water until a light sea breeze filled in and Race 3 could begin.
It was a race of many changes. Ioannis Mitakis, from Greece led at the top, from Heiner and Berecz. The downwind decisions were crucial with Zarif making the best choices and rounding the gate in the lead, just ahead of a massive group of boats. Zarif escaped up the second beat and led down the final leg to the finish for a comfortable win. Scott, who had rounded the top mark in 12th, moved up to second just before the final mark to take second from Berecz.
Soon after that it was clear the wind was dying, as per forecast, so the fleet was sent back to Enoshima.
Zarif, now up to fourth overall, explained his race, “We had 6 to 8 knots race with a lot different pressures and with some puffs. It was a hard race and I think the downwinds were the key for everybody. You could gain or lose a lot i if you had good pressure and were playing the waves well.”
“I think I was eighth at the top mark and I had a very good first downwind and there was a huge group just after me at the gate and when you are able to be in front of this group you gain a lot in the beginning of the second upwind and I think I managed the fleet well and was able to keep the lead.”
He is spending a lot of time here “In Japan I was here a month last year for the World Cup, also 20 days in July and one month now, and I will stay for the World Cup as well. It’s lot of time.”
“This is not a place like Rio when you can come any time of the year. It has to be at the right time because the conditions change fast. So I will try to spend as much time here as I can this summer.”
He says sailing well in Japan is very challenging. “It’s super hard here. Yesterday we had a hard day physically. It’s brutally warm as well. My heart rate goes up very quick here, which is a little bit different from other places. So I think the Olympics will be hard to predict what we will have. Last year in the World Cup we had offshore really shifty wind. When raining we had a lot of wind with the sea breeze so I think the guys must be prepared for everything, as always.”
Nils Theuninck, from Switzerland is having a great start to the regatta, placing fourth today. He said, “It was quite shifty and quite tricky, but I had two good downwinds, which allowed me to catch up for fourth overall.”
“It’s my second time in Japan. I was here last year. Normally the conditions are really good, only this week is a bit lighter I guess. Most of the time it is windy so really, really good.”
For Theuninck, the regatta is also part of his internal trials He is currently fifth overall. “It’s important to come here and learn the conditions for ‘when’ I get the Olympic ticket and also for us it’s an Olympic qualifier in the country.”
Like many he is finding he heat hard to deal with. “The sailing is super good, only it’s really warm, so it’s hard to keep the focus on the water, but otherwise it’s really nice. When we get free pumping on the downwinds, it gets really hot and you forget what cold it like, and it’s really hard”
Racing continues Monday, with three races scheduled to try and catch up.
Results after Day 2
1 GBR Giles Scott 3
2 HUN Zsombor Berecz 4
3 NED Nicholas Heiner 4
4 BRA Jorge Zarif 9
5 SUI Nils Theuninck 9
6 FRA Jonathan Lobert 10
7 NOR Anders Pedersen 12
8 GRE Ioannis Mitakis 13
9 NZL Andy Maloney 15
10 SWE Max Salminen 16
Ready Steady Tokyo, the Olympic test event is a series of 10 opening series races from Saturday 17, August to Wednesday 21, August. The top 10 will then sail the medal race on Thursday 22 August.
Full results can now be found here: https://sailing.org/readysteadytokyo.php?view=schedule&rgtaid=21745®attaid=21745#results__21745