Olympic sailing: Confused seas and sailors on day 2

Large confused swells combined with gusty, shifty conditions to make the second day of Olympic sailing at Tokyo 2020 a real head scratcher. Andy Rice reports

There was more wind than expected for the second day of racing at the Olympic Sailing Competition which was just as well as the lumpy, confused wave pattern made it hard to get into the groove.

When the Pacific swell hits the shoreline of Enoshima and the concrete harbour walls, it reverberates back out to sea, turning the racing area into something akin to a washing machine.

Finding a rhythm through the water is difficult, made all the harder by the breeze shifting first one way, then the other, without much discernible pattern. Many of the Olympic sailing competitors suffered, but a few managed to make sense of nature’s chaos.

The Laser, Laser Radial and the Men’s and Women’s RS:X all took to the water in a 10-15 knot easterly breeze and successfully completed their scheduled races.

Laser racing for the Olympic sailing competition

There have been a lot of big scores on the Laser fleet so far. Photo: Sailing energy / World Sailing

Olympic Sailing: Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser

Finland’s Kaarle Tapper was not on many people’s radar as a likely candidate to be topping the leaderboard in the mightily tough Olympic sailing Laser fleet. But after three races that’s where the flying Finn finds himself.

Following on from a second place on the opening day, Tapper took third in the first race of today, followed by a 14th which in this fleet is not all that bad either.

Four points behind the Finn are two great friends and training partners, as well being Olympic sailing silver medallists from the past two Games, Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) and Pavlos Kontides (CYP).

While the Croatian is nominally in second overall on tiebreak with worst race discarded, he’d rather have the more consistent set of numbers held by the Cypriot. Counting all scores, Kontides has the lowest points in the fleet and is the only sailor to have kept all of his results inside the top ten.

His results of 4,7,5 don’t tell the real story of why the Cypriot is doing so well this week. In yesterday’s race Kontides hauled himself back from 27th to fourth, and today was a similar story of coming back from the dead.

“Very changeable conditions – big windshifts and changes in current as well – which gave a lot of opportunities for gains, but also losses. I was finding myself deep after the first lap in both races today, but fortunately I was able to finish well,” Kontides explained after racing.

In full hiking conditions and big waves to navigate, it was a full-body workout for the Laser sailors on the Enoshima course. Sweden’s Jesper Stalheim was leading the race for a while before yielding to 2020 World Champion Philipp Buhl from Germany. Stalheim dropped to third and found himself pinned by another boat as he was approaching the windward mark.

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