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Despite the ten-deep fleet of contenders for the Nacra 17 title, two teams are rising to the occasion so far in Enoshima. Gimson and Burnet (GBR) scored a 1, 1, 2 on day two, answering back to Tita and Banti (ITA) 1, 3, 1 on day one. Together, these two teams have won five of the six races, and if the sixth race is any indication of what is to come, this could become the best rivalry in sailing since Ainslie and Scheidt.

Gimson and Burnet (GBR) holding off (Kohlhoff and Stuhlemmer (GER) © Sailing Energy / World Sailing

The British and Italian teams stayed within 100 meters of each other almost the entire race six, only separating at the start or while taking separate gates. Over that time there were four lead changes between the two.

Up the first beat, they both played the middle of the course, with the British staying slightly ahead. All of the Nacra 17 contenders were in the front row upwind, with teams both right and left. At the first mark layline the Italians tacked slightly underneath the British, and held that lane to round forth.

They found some magic on the reach and hoist, surging into the lead only to find the British had done similarly and were hot on their tail. Around the leeward marks, the teams split directions, with the British tacking soon after their rounding to cover the Italians going left. When they came back together, it was the British with a slight advantage and they lee bowed the Italians for the long port tack back to the windward mark.

While the two held relatively high lanes, the chasing group of Denmark, Argentina, and Spain pulled closer to the top pair, so that they were all within 15 seconds of each other by the top of the beat. At the lay line, the British tacked and this time the Italians ducked slightly to tack outside them and follow them into the windward mark.

Tita and Banti (ITA) hoisting on the reach leg.

Again on the reach and set, the Italians surged lower while the British stumbled on their hoist. The Italians went clear ahead for a few moments, but then the British got their downwind mojo established and rolled the Italians to retake the lead. The Italians were forced to gybe away and got a puff with a header soon after and were sailing a very low angle, at some points up to 3 knots faster than the British, who had subsequently gybed back to head toward the finish line. Again the Italians pulled into the lead, but the British slowly clawed back as the two boats surged through similar sets of puff.

The Italians gybed to get to the finish, and were slightly ahead, the Brits gybed on top of them, looking to steal their win once more. For a few moments they did retake the virtual lead, but the Brits were above the pin finish layline, and had to bear away for the last 50 meters to a slower point of sail, unable to stop the Italians surging through the finish for a victory by two seconds.

Of course, you’ll have to take my word that the above ever happened… it appears there wasn’t a single lens to capture the moment… just the GPS tracker… gotta love multiclass regattas.

Behind the leading pair boats sit Germany, Argentina, Australia, Spain, France, Denmark Austria. All of these teams have shown regatta winning form in recent years, and any slip up from the leading duo will be swallowed up. So far the conditions have been punchy, with fully powered winds and plenty of waves. If the conditions change, we may see a change in form at the top.

There is a scheduled layday for the fleet before the second half of the regatta continues. Stay up to date with photos, results, social, schedule and more via the Nacra 17 Olympic Page.

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