BLUE (DA BA DEE) INSPIRES GERMANS TO THREE BULLET17 May 2023
- Qualifying is complete, gold fleet starts on Thursday
- Three wins from three races for Diesch and Markfort (GER)
- French looking strong in the strong, shifty breeze
- Defending European Champions from Sweden rocket from 17th up to 2nd
Where one German team slipped, another bulleted up the rankings to take the overall lead at the end of day 3 of the 470 European Championship in San Remo, Italy. Winning all three of their blue group qualifying races, Simon Diesch and Anna Markfort (GER) proved unstoppable in the strong but wildly shifting northerly breeze gusting off the Italian shore.
The crew of GER-11, sailing their 470 called Valerie, were in sync and on song even through unpredictable wind holes and sharp gusts, all mixed in with shifts that were ranging through 40 degrees or more. The boat is named after the Amy Winehouse song, but there was another track, one of the ultimate earworms, that provided the soundtrack for their metronomic success on a random, blustery Mediterranean Sea. “We were singing Blue (Da Ba Dee),” grinned Markfort, referring to the 1998 Europop single by Italian dance group Eiffel 65. “Simon and I always have a song going, and that was today’s song.”
The new leaders Diesch and Markfort are well known for their strong wind boatspeed. However today was not just about speed, it was about managing the shifts, the gusts and the lulls. “We’re quite proud how we won the first two races, we sailed the shifts and gusts really well,” said Markfort. “I must admit we got a bit lucky in the last race because the leading group was heading to the right and we went the opposite way and picked up maybe 15 boats. That was a really fun day, and nice to be leading a European Championship. I’m looking forward to gold fleet, I just hope we get good wind again tomorrow.”
After winning both their opening races on day 1, scores of 18, 15, 6 saw Theresa Löffler & Christopher Hoerr (GER) drop to ninth overall. “The last one was better because it was more of a speed race and we had good speed,” said Löffler. “The other two were difficult for us, we struggled to get in phase with the wind and the pressure, but overall still happy, good to be in gold fleet.”
Aside from the runaway dominance of the new championship leaders, the next most consistent were the defending European champions from Sweden and two high-flying French teams. Together, Camille Lecointre and Aloïse Retornaz won Olympic bronze two years ago at Tokyo 2020. But having been forced to split up after the switch to the 470 Mixed format, the French women are vying for the same spot for their home Games in 2024. Lecointre, now sailing with Jeremie Mion, scored 2,3,4 today to maintain third overall. Retornaz, sailing with Hippolyte Machetti, scored 1,7,2 to rise to fourth overall, just two points behind their teammates.
“It was strong winds but really shifty, very tactical,” said Retornaz, tired by elated by a hard day on the sea. “Usually in strong winds you just go fast, sail out to one side, but not today. I don’t think I have ever tacked so much in strong winds. It was exciting because the race was really close all the way to the finish, fighting with the Portuguese on the last reach. An amazing day, good fun.”
Both the top French teams have kept all five of their scores inside the top 10, a feat only matched by the Japanese team, Keiju Okada and Miho Yoshioka, whose consistency lifts them to sixth overall. However, it’s the Swedes - Anton Dahlberg and Lovisa Karlsson - who rise from 17th to second overall, thanks to being able to discard a 21st place from their scores. The 2022 European Champions made amends for that first day aberration with a very clean set of scores in the stronger breeze, an ever-improving 5,4,1.
“In the last race we actually didn’t get the start we wanted,” admitted Karlsson. “But we sailed a good first half of the upwind and found our way through the fleet on the shifts. We were second at the top mark, managed to stay upright on the downwind, and caught the leading boat on the second upwind. So we’re happy with how we sailed. The topography of the shore made it very shifty, maybe 40 to 45 degrees maximum, and wind from 12 or 13 knots at one point up to maybe 22 later on. You really had to keep your eyes out of the boat and looking around all the time.”
Thursday sees the start of gold fleet competition when the top half of the fleet line up against each other for the first time. Three races are scheduled to start at 1100 hours local time.
To get all the news, photos and updates from the racing, go to 470.org
written by Andy Rice
LEADERBOARD (Top 3 overall after five races)
1. Simon Diesch and Anna Markfort (GER), 6 points
2. Anton Dahlberg and Lovisa Karlsson (SWE), 11 points
3. Camille Lecointre & Jeremie Mion (FRA), 11 points
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