Asian Open Championship Decided in Lead Up to Oman Worlds
Wednesday, November 10, 2021 10:03 AM
The Asian Open Championship for 49er and 49erFX wrapped up with two newer teams leading the fleets. Henan Umpiere with Fernando Diz (URU) won the 49er fleet with a commanding final day of 2, 1, 1. They are the first Uruguayan team to win a continental championship in the skiff and turned plenty of heads in the boat park as teams get ready for Worlds.
Taking a back to back victory in the 49erFX was Odile van Aanholt with Elise de Ruyter (NED). The dutch pair are only temporarily sailing together as each has a partner rehabbing from injury at the moment. After winning the European Championship last month handily, and again winning by a large margin at the Asian’s, they seem to be fitting in well together.
Asian Games Watch
The top Asian teams at the Asian Championship were KC Ganapathy with Varun Thakkar (IND) in the 49er and Molly Highfield with Sandi Choi (HKG) in the 49erFX. For Asian countries, the hunt is already on for the Asian Games in 10 months time. The Indian team is actually the largest of any nation here in Oman, with a total of six teams. The Hong Kong team might be the most committed, with the teams landing first of any squad to warm up for the Championship.
New and Old
In general, there are many new faces and teams in the skiff. The Path to Paris seems like it will mark a changing of the guard in both classes after two quads with mostly familiar names topping the leaderboard. New teams from America, Poland, Denmark, and Britain in the 49er and France from the FX are in contention for the World titles.
Gold medalists Martine Grael with Kahena Kunze (BRA) have yet to land here in Oman so the 49erFX teams are curious to see the form of the world's top female pair after they won their second straight gold medals in the skiff. Martine and Ka have been taking a break from the sailing since their win, so it is not known how quickly they will knock off any rust that may have built up over a few short months.
World number number one ranked team from 2019, James Peters and Fynn Sterrit (GBR), return to the 49er circuit. The pair were riding high after winning the 2019 Sailing World Cup in Tokyo, and a bronze at the 2018 European Championship but didn’t earn selection for Team GB to the games. After some time away from sailing, they are back to try and write a new story for Paris.
The Cat Comp
The Nacra 17 teams opted against having a warm up regatta, in part because much of the fleet is already at the top of their Game. The Silver and Bronze medal teams from Tokyo, John Gimson with Anna Burnett (GBR) and Paul Kohloff with Alica Stuhlemmer (GER), are back and ready to race again. They’ll have to beat out Vittorio Bizzaro with Maelle Frascari (ITA) who won the 2019 World Championship but didn’t get to go to the games. The start studded line up will be joined by a handful of other Olympians on new team formations, and some young talent looking to establish themselves.
Oman Sail is hosting both the Asian Championship and the World Championship from November 16-21, 2021 from Mussanah. For many teams this is their first trip to the region, and Oman is setting a high standard for making everyone feel welcome and taken care of.
Oman Sail is the center of Olympic sailing this season, hosting the 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17, along with the ILCA in a few weeks time and then the World Sailing Youth Worlds after that. Three pinnacle regattas for their categories back to back is almost unheard of.
Oman Sail is graduating from a start up sailing venture to an established sailing stop. There is a full staff skilled in all departments, Race Officials, catering, import/export, boat repair, rib rental, media, and virtually any other aspect of a modern sailing regatta are covered. The sailors have had a level of service and support they are not accustomed to, with any number of details to support their efforts attended to.
Snakes on a Foil
The fleet has been in sailor luxury while staying at the Barcelo resort in Mussanah. A 100m commute to the boat park, pools, gyms, and great food are everyday staples of life on site. Of course, daily temps of 25-30 with consistent breezes also help with azure blue waters too boot!
All the more shocking when Sinem Kurbay (FIN) dragged a sea snake back to port! Snakes on the foil, oh my! What to do? Poisonous too from the boat park rumor!