Nacra Re-Sets as Teams Explore Full Flight
A 12th at the Tokyo Olympics was not a dream result for Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson (NZL). Yes, Dawson was nursing a massive injury. But the shift to a fully foiling Nacra 17 in 2022 interestingly fit beautifully into their skills sets from other full flight campaigns (SailGP, Moth, Flying Phantom). And today, at the European Championships they sit alone in second, comfortable, smiling and wearing their new adjustable rudders like a light, quick, pair of running shoes.
As the fleet explores different modes and how to use upwind foiling for different strategies and tactics at this week’s European Championships, it’s obvious the top 10 are learning and progressing together as the double digits slowly begin to fade from the scorelines. Tita/Banti (ITA) are the only exceptions, clear of the Kiwis by an astounding 28 points, sailing in rarified air.
“I think we both really enjoy the foiling,” said Wilkinson who won Red Bull’s Foiling Generation six years ago in Flying Phantoms. Dawson dug deeper and said, “With the new rudder [differential] system, it feels like a new boat. And it’s all about who can learn the quickest.”
Though the Kiwis are strong this week, there is an ultra-tight pack behind them that ranges from previous world championship and Olympic medal winners, to some who struggled in the previous quad and who are now maturing and maybe relating better to fully foiling.
Jarudd/Jonsson (SWE), in their second Olympic campaign, are happily moving along their progression and are in 4th today with a 3, 5, 4 and have shown a podium-worthy consistency. Though Jarudd is a “frother” and cross trains with every foiling craft he can find, it is communication that has allowed he and Jonsson to open new performance doors on the course this week.
“Hannah and I have a real good back and forth on the moding,” said Jarudd. “We had a long discussion after Kiel in how to structure who does what in the talking in the tactics and strategy and we’re trying to keep to the process.”
That “process” is one all the teams this week are trying to master to exploit the new Nacra configuration. “The race course opens up a little more,” said Jarudd after sailing today. “You have to do the same amount of tacks as before but now you can position yourself better with foiling and non-foiling.”
The team attributes their ability this week to execute their strategies to coach Jez Fanstone’s influence. “He brings a wealth of experience and calm,” said Jarudd.
This European championship is identifying one clear data point on the road to Paris 2024: Tita/Banti (ITA) have another gear.
Here are the facts. Tita was 14th at his first games, Rio in the 49er. He grew as a sailor heading into the Nacra and with a partially foiling class, crushed it in Tokyo with the highly adaptable and focused Caterina Banti. That cycle, however, was nip and tuck with teammates Bissaro/Frascari for Olympic team selection as the two pairs exchanged world championship titles. Now that the boats are fully flying, it just makes sense to Ruggi and Caterina, and with a 2, 1, 2 in even in a whacky breeze that fluctuated all day.
Now at the half way point in the championship, the scores are showing a deeper competition than the Nacra fleet might have been used to in the previous quad, with more teams taking low scores, but few keeping consistent.
The 2022 European Championship from Aarhus run from July 5-10, 2022. Daily live broadcasts will begin on July 8th and run through to the medal race finish on July 10th. For full results, photos, articles and more head to the regatta website.