470 Worlds: U Flag Upsets

At the 470 Worlds, penalties are shaking up the usual leaders. The American women lead their pack.

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Black flags flew on day 1 of 470 worlds and the leaderboard reflected the shakeup.Matias Capizzano/470 Worlds

“You can always lose a regatta on the first day, but you can never win it,” said US Sailing Team Sperry’s Briana Provancha in a 470 class statement yesterday. She and skipper Annie Haeger finished the first day of racing in first place in the women’s fleet, while many of their competitors were flagged at the start under Rule 30.3 [U Flag Rule], giving the American’s a comfortable lead over some of their biggest competition.

France’s Camille Lecointre and Helene Defrance, who bested Hager and Provancha at last weeks’ South American Championship, dropped to 20th due to a UFD during their second start of the day, after the first race was abandoned. They did redeem themselves before the end of the day, however, and finished first in the second completed race. “Actually we would have won three races today,” said Lecointre in a class statement. “The race that was abandoned we were first, the UFD we were first, but only in last race of the day we actually got to finish first. It is not a good start, but we feel quite confident in these conditions so we are OK.”

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Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, 2012 Silver Medalists were flagged along with 4 other pairs in one race alone.Matias Capizzano/470 Worlds

Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark are in a similar position as the 2012 Silver Medalists were flagged in the same race, along with four others. Perhaps it was the swinging breeze or the hard-to-read racecourse that caused six teams to cross the line early, but no matter the circumstance, it has left an opportunity open for Haeger and Provancha to maintain their lead. However, not far behind are teammates Sydney Bolger and Carly Shevitz. Because this event is one of two national selection events for the American 470 sailors, the pressure is on.

“If we see [Haegar/Provancha] near us around the course, we are going to try to keep that in mind,” says Shevitz. “But ultimately, we want to get our best finish at this first event and maybe focus more during the second event. We are pretty happy to have survived the day, with not too many points and no big diggers.”

Mat Belcher and Will Ryan, the reigning world champions, are going into day two in 33rd, due to a combination of their UFD in their first race and a 21st place finish in their second on day one.

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The New Zealand duo of Wilcox and Snow-Hansen has two bullets in the bank and leads the men's fleet.Matias Capizzano/470 Worlds

“We were racing well but got caught up in a few back markers at the start of race one,” said Belcher in a team statement. “With one knot of current, we literally got dragged over on the U flag start – a little bit silly in the first race of the Worlds but a good lesson.”

Belcher is hoping for his seventh consecutive world title, but with the way things are going it’ll be an uphill battle. “This was not the start we were looking for but we have the experience to get ourselves back on track,” says Belcher. “We have quite the hole to get out of now but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Belcher and Ryan will have a hard time catching up to New Zealand’s Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Wilcox, who have two bullets in the bank already. “I think things can sometimes snowball in those conditions,” says Snow-Hansen. “You get a bit of a lead and you can start to sail your own race and forget about what is happening behind you. We had enough of a lead at the bottom mark to do that in the second beat. We just sailed our own race and managed to link up a few phases and found ourselves quite far ahead.”

Two races are planned for Tuesday, and racing will continue until Saturday.

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For full results, live updates, and photos, visit http://2016worlds.470.org/Matias Capizzano/470 Worlds