It’s hard to stand out on the Italian Nacra 17 Olympic team with Gold medalists and world champions as teammates but for the moment, Gianluigi Ugolini and Maria Giubilei are linking fickle shifts and putting the pedal down to lead the fleet.
The Italian pair have won the Junior World Championships twice and have been runners-up at the senior Worlds and now they represent a generation of sailors who have come of age in the foiling Nacra.
Leads in the Nacra fleet were fluctuating all afternoon and it is John Gimson and Anna Burnet from Great Britain who were sharing those first place finishes and are now in second place.
The Dutch pair of Laila van der Meer and Bjarne Bouwer have also been making their mark winning a race today and ending up in fifth overall. Like Ugolini and Giubilei, they have won a Junior Worlds, in 2022 on Lake Garda, and by a healthy margin. They have been climbing through the fleet each regatta since. But success doesn’t always breed confidence in a fleet that’s defined by rapid progression in a complex flying machine.
“It’s weird, every regatta we’re doing better than we might expect,” said Bouwer. “So in some way it’s nice to see the progress but it doesn’t take long to be disappointed with a second place where we gave it away. We’re still so young and inexperienced. We have butterflies yes, but there’s a lot to work on.”
The current Olympic champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti have slowly moved to within a few points of the top three after a slow start this week. A condensed leaderboard shows how the fleet has caught up to the Italians who have dominated the Nacra 17 since the Tokyo Games. With 12 more races left before Monday’s medal race, there will certainly be more changes to come.
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