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49er World Championship: fresh faces and medalists mix atop standings

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49er World Championship: fresh faces and medalists mix atop standings
49er World Championship: fresh faces and medalists mix atop standings

Mussanah, OMAN – A mere three months since the closing ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympics and less than three years from the Paris 2024 opening ceremonies, new teams are grasping their opportunity to make a name for themselves at the 2021 Nacra 17, 49erFX and 49er world championships at Mussanah, Oman.

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The puffy easterly seabreezes and cloudless Massanah sky made for a gentle first day of the championship hosted by the resort and waterfront home of Oman Sail. The turnout to these post-Olympics championships were equally as mild, but this isn’t quite the usual worlds after an Olympics.

The difference this time is there’s one year lost in the Paris 2024 quadrennium due to a late Tokyo Games and each fleet has a leader who has emerged from their deep squads to take pole position at a major event for the first time, leaving some Tokyo Olympians down in the rankings.

The young Finnish FX team of Ronja Gronblom and Veera Hokka eclipsed their fleet with an 8, 2, 1 to end day one five points clear of Norwegian Tokyo 2020 Olympians Helene Naess and Marie Ronningen. The Norwegian pair were one of three 2020 Olympians who wasted no time re-starting their campaigns after competing in Tokyo, all were in the top six of the 22-boat fleet.

“Our biggest takeaway from Tokyo was focusing on the process and specific goals we set,” said American FX crew Maggie Shea. “The goal is an outcome we’re happy with regardless of the results.”

With only 15 boats, the Nacra 17 fleet are just as deep, but a new French team, Tim Mourniac and Lou Berthomieu top Tokyo silver medalists from Great Britain John Gimson and Anna Burnett. Of the top 10 today, two are medalists from Tokyo, and there are two world champions.

“It was a steady first day, as far as results are concerned,” said Burnett, who stands one point behind the French. “There are a lot of new faces, especially the French are going really well. It’s nice to have these teams around us.”

Burnett and Gimson jumped right into the European Championships after the Games but then took a break, putting their hours into learning wing foiling. “We’re just getting back into our routines,” said Burnett.

The 49ers were the largest fleet, sailing in the lighter morning winds, split into two fleets. The British team of Jack Hawkins and Chris Tomas are tied with the French pair of Kevin Fischer Guillou and Noe’ Delpech. Both are experiencing their first tastes of sitting atop a big championship.

With only the two 49er fleets needing to sail qualifiers through Thursday, the fleets are aiming for three races each day. Though the shifty warm breezes kept the scores of even the leaders mixed, the sunshine will be the only consistent factor this week.

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