With just one day left of the opening series at the Ready Steady Tokyo Olympic Test Event in Enoshoma, Japan, Zsombor Berecz, from Hungary has extended his lead to 16 points over Giles Scott, from Britain, with Nicholas Heiner, from The Netherlands a further five points back. Race wins on Tuesday went to Scott and Joan Cardona from Spain.
The forecast was for a building seabreeze in the afternoon, with early rain and late thunderstorms. There was no precipitation but again very hot temperatures. The heat this week has been the main talking point with many sailors monitoring core temperatures to understand where the limits are for racing. Keeping cool is essential, or at least as cool as possible, with ice issued to all sailors every day to reduce body temperature after each race.
Some are more prepared than others, but it is also vital to keep a cool head on the race course as the sailors are continually challenged by the wind and wave conditions. Berecz is putting together an amazing series in these conditions, only once outside the top three, and clearly taking it much cooler than anyone else so far.
After a frustrating time on Monday when he lost the series lead, Scott took control of Race 7 out of the start and led at every mark for a confident win. Berecz rounded third and moved up to second, while Ioannis Mitakis, from Greece, rounded fifth and moved up to third on the final downwind. As usual there was big movement within the fleet.
Jonathan Lobert, from France, the 2012 bronze medallist is one of many struggling here, but he finally found the front in Race 8 to lead round from Berecz and Tapio Nirkko, from Finland. Cardona was right behind him and took the lead on the downwind, chased hard by Berecz. However it was to be Cardona’s day taking a well deserved win from Berecz and Lobert.
Olympic champion, Scott explained his day, “Again super hot. The first race was in 6-7 knots which went well and I managed to win that, which was nice, but then the second one I felt like I dug it out and got swamped by the fleet on the last downwind and lost a load, so I got a 14th, so an up and down day for me today.”
“I was probably in 7th or 8th, so a bit of a shame to lose that way. It’s such hard work out there. It’s hard when you are going well, but if you are working hard and not going so well it’s all that much harder.”
Tom Ramshaw, from Canada, has had a poor start to the week but made up for that slightly with a fourth and a sixth today.
“I had a really rough start to the week. I’ve been working on my starts, and had good starts, but wasn’t able to put together the first beat. But today I felt a little bit faster and a little bit better about everything and was able to put it together and compete in the top group, so that was really satisfying to finally be able to do that after six really bad races.”
Ramshaw qualified in Aarhus last year with a fifth place finish, but has occasionally struggled to find form since. “This is my first time in this venue, so definitely this regatta is being looked at for me at what I need to work on for the next year, so with my coach we have identified some things that are definitely important here, so we are going to continue moving forward and working on those things.”
The second best performance of the day was from Cardona.
“It was a super good day for me with a fifth and a first. So I am really happy. Conditions were great I think. The first race was a bit more tricky but the second race was in 12-14 knots and quite stable, and it was just about speed. I think I have got some good speed both upwind and downwind, so I could manage to win the race.”
“The starts were a bit better from the committee boat today, and I did both starts from there. In the first race it was about finishing the first beat from the left and I managed that and in the second it was about taking the first right shift and then covering the fleet, and then I had good speed downwind.”
“I think the wind was quite stable. There was also some gradient breeze, so it was not so easy to predict what was going to happen but in the end I managed well.”
He is one of six European sailors here who will go head to head at the European continental qualifier in Genoa next year to fight for a place in Tokyo 2020 final. “It’s my first time here in Japan and I came here in case I can qualify in Genoa, to know the venue better for the Olympics, but it will be a very tough competition to qualify in Genoa. I will do my best but the others are a super high level.”
Cardona’s results today move him up to tenth overall, and the first sailor of the six European nations here yet to qualify.
With two second places, Berecz again won the day. There are just two opening series races left on Wednesday for anyone to challenge him before Thusday's medal race. However, so far, everyone else is putting in too many high scores. The 2018 World Champion is setting the pace.
Results after Day 4
1 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 14
2 GBR 41 Giles Scott 30
3 NED 89 Nicholas Heiner 35
4 NZL 61 Andy Maloney 42
5 NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 54
6 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 58
7 BRA 109 Jorge Zarif 60
8 AUS 1 Jake Lilley 62
9 TUR 21 Alican Kaynar 64
10 ESP 26 Joan Cardona Mendez 66
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.
May more photos can be found here: www.flickr.com/photos/finnclassphotos
Full results can now be found here: https://sailing.org/readysteadytokyo.php?view=schedule&rgtaid=21745®attaid=21745#results__21745