Zsombor Berecz, from Hungary, is back in front in the Finn fleet at the Ready Steady Tokyo Olympic Test Event in Enoshoma, Japan. He now has a nine point advantage over Giles Scott, from Britain, with Nicholas Heiner another five points behind Scott. With three races sailed to catch back up to schedule, Andy Maloney, from New Zealand, took the first two, with Berecz winning the third.
The biggest surprise of the day though was the wind with a solid offshore breeze for most of the day, despite the forecast showing a dying light breeze during the afternoon. It was certainly challenging though with big shifts and pressure differences throughout the day, which shuffled the fleet on more than one occasion.
Facundo Olezza, from Argentina was the early leader in Race 4, before Maloney came past on the second upwind to take the win from Berecz and Olezza.
After a brief wait while the wind first died and then strengthened to 15-16 knots, Tapio Nirkko, from Finland, led round the top in race 5, but again Maloney took the lead on the second upwind to win from Alican Kaynar, from Turkey and Josip Olujic, from Croatia.
Jorge Zarif, from Brazil, led to the top in race 6, but Berecz took the lead on the second upwind to extend away for a huge win from Zarif and Jake Lilley, from Australia.
Pretty much everyone has at least one good race today, a side effect of the shifty conditions that tested the whole fleet.
After a difficult start to the regatta, Maloney came out and posted two bullets, quite a feat in a fleet of this standard. Having placed highly at all regattas, so far this year it was an untypical start from the winner in Palma and runner up at the Europeans.
“The first couple of days it was one decision on the first beat that was letting me down. So today I knew what I had to do differently and it wasn’t a big change. I definitely sailed the first couple of races pretty well and it’s good confidence boost going forward for the rest of the regatta. Pretty happy with how I was sailing today.”
He explained, “Today we had the offshore breeze, an oscillating, pretty puffy, streaky breeze. I managed to win the first couple of races, which was really good, in some pretty physical conditions as it was really hot out there. In the last race I had a bit of an incident on the start line and from there I was a bit too far behind to do much."
“The shifts today were a good 15 degrees and they come with a lot of pressure and if you get it wrong you are stuck in a 10 knot lull and if you get it right you are in a 15 knot gust. So there are some big gains and losses to be made pretty quickly. And if you get a bit out of sync it’s pretty hard to get back.”
Together with training partner Josh Junior, the pair have performed well all year, sharing information to make sure one of them is ready for Tokyo 2020. It is quite a unique partnership.
He continued, “It’s a pretty cool opportunity to race in an Olympic seized fleet which is quite small and at the Olympic venue. Josh and I are learning a lot every day from the racing and we are trying to document what is working and what isn’t and chatting night and morning about the racing. We’re both trying to learn as much as we can from this week for one of us try and put that forward next year at the Olympics.”
Maloney is now up to fourth overall and just two points out of the medals.
Anders Pedersen, from Norway, is now up to sixth overall. “We had a tricky day with a northerly wind offshore. Quite big shifts and wind was up and down. We had everything from 17 to 6 knots so it was quite a challenging day to stay in top of the fleet all day. Ne mistake and you pay.”
“I had a good first race, but then a really bad second race as I couldn’t get off the start line and then a good last race, so a medium day.”
Pedersen has spent a lot of time here over the past two years and knows the conditions will be challenging.
“I think when we get the sea breeze and the waves it is great. The big challenge for me from a different side of the globe is the heat. I wish for a bit colder climate but we try to service the heat and do whatever we do to stay cool, using cooling vests, towels, ice, shade as well as drinking a lot.” He explained that he would drink between 5 and 7 litres of fluid during the racing.
“We were extremely lucky the first day with great conditions, a super day. We had a bit so-so conditions yesterday, and today again was challenging but good conditions.”
Racing continues Tuesday, with two races scheduled.
Results after Day 3
1 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 10
2 GBR 41 Giles Scott 19
3 NED 89 Nicholas Heiner 24
4 NZL 61 Andy Maloney 26
5 BRA 109 Jorge Zarif 31
6 NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 34
7 AUS 1 Jake Lilley 38
8 TUR 21 Alican Kaynar 45
9 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 47
10 FIN 218 Tapio Nirkko 49
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