US Sailing Team – Unity and Focus Deliver Results at 2019 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 Worlds
On Sunday, December 8, 2019, the Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships in Auckland New Zealand wrapped, marking the end of the 2019 year for the U.S. in these classes. The event seemed to be a turning point for the US Sailing Team after each of the American representatives demonstrated significant improvement throughout the event.
Today’s racing format included an early morning round of fleet racing, followed by a medal race in the afternoon. Excitement was high, as Auckland conditions delivered yet again 12-20 knots, in a building seaway. Two races were sailed in each fleet.
Stakes have been high, as every competitor has targeted this World Championships as the next milestone on the road to Tokyo. All countries including the U.S., have established temporary residence in Auckland for at least one and a half months, honing skills, setting goals, and fine-tuning their game. Country qualification and early Olympic trials rounds were raced for, as well as the lofty goal of competing in a World Championships!
The overall U.S. team performance has been notable – U.S. boats won breezy races in these tricky high-speed classes, seven U.S. boats qualified for Gold Fleet, and the U.S. posted its best results in four years in all three fleets at the Worlds.
The 49er class sailors Nevin Snow (San Diego, Calif.) and Dane Wilson (Ojai, Calif.), and Ian Barrows (Miami, Fla.) and Mitchell Kiss (Holland, Mich.) fought brilliantly all week to try and capture a highly sought-after country Olympic spot and finished 5th in the race for the available four spots. The qualifying scheme is complicated and finishing one place out of a guaranteed spot doesn’t mean hopes are over. A few scenarios could still deliver the U.S. a slot at the Games.
“While we would have liked to seal up a confirmed seat at the table, I am so encouraged and pleased with our progress in the last two months,” said Olympic Head Coach, Luther Carpenter (Cypress, Texas). “The leadership from coach Mark Asquith has been top-notch, and the bond and effort between team members has been one-hundred percent united.”
Moving forward, Carpenter asserts that the 49er coaches and teams remain focused and committed to developing the talent of these U.S. Men’s 49er athletes, ”We know we have more work to be done, as we are already evaluating and planning to continue the tour Down Under at the 2020 Worlds in February.
Focusing on the positive takeaways from the week is easy for Carpenter after our team demonstrated such significant improvement. “Our squad should feel good about checking off more boxes at this World Championships,” he continued. “Here, this group demonstrated the talent, conviction, and depth that we have strived for in the last four years. Together, I have no doubts that this team will rise to podium levels in the future.”
Beyond the 49er sailors, U.S. competitors proved themselves as formidable opponents in the 49erFX and Nacra fleets, as well. 49erFX teams of Paris Henken (Coronado, Calif.) and Anna Tobias (Pittsburgh, Penn.), and Stephanie Roble (East Troy, Wisc.) and Maggie Shea (Wilmette, Ill.) both wrapped the event with their best result at a 49erFX World Championship, to date. Henken and Tobias finished in ninth overall. Roble and Shea followed closely behind in 13th.
Throughout the week, both teams exhibited resiliency in the face of adversity and setbacks on the water. While Roble and Shea posted several double digits scores during the opening series, they finished in the top ten in the majority of the final series races. Just today, Henken and Tobias demonstrated their ability to persevere after capsizing a mid-race while in third. The duo rallied back well enough to still make the medal race and take a confident fifth place in that race.
In the Nacra fleet, the US Sailing Team likewise made visible improvements. Athletes demonstrated their ability to win races in windy conditions. US Sailing’s Olympic Coach and Performance Manager, Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wisc.) said that since the U.S. Nacra sailors arrived in New Zealand, “They have excelled in boat handling around the course, speed in strong breeze and highlighted some great downwind foiling stability and speed.”
The U.S. Nacra boats also demonstrated their ability to fight at the top of the fleet. Riley Gibbs (Long Beach, Calif.) and Anna Weis (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) started off the regatta with several top three finishes and continued to exhibit strength throughout the week.
On a whole, these U.S. athletes are stronger than they were even just a few months ago. Their hard work will continue in just a matter of weeks when they will begin preparations for the 2020 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships to be held in Geelong, Australia on February 10-15.
This event was also one of two that will determine athlete trials for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team. The finishing positions of each boat at this event and the 2020 World Championships will be combined. The team with the lowest score in each qualified class will earn the spot to represent Team USA at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Carpenter says, “All of us here in New Zealand are excited by the progress we’ve seen here in New Zealand. The Olympics are seven months away, and we know that we have the time for at least three more cycles of similar improvement. From staff, to coaches, to athletes, we all believe in each other and have now witnessed and experienced the winning side of our program. I like to reflect on this recent growth and say, winning is now contagious within our team, and be more than just you, be part of something great! But it’s not just about inspirational quotes – it’s about rolling up the sleeves and doing the work, and right now, we love to work.”
Follow the US Sailing Team on the road to Tokyo.
Learn more about the Olympic trials and country qualification.
U.S. Results at the 2019 Hyundai 49er, 49erFx and Nacra 17 World Championships
- 9th – Paris Henken & Anna Tobias, 49erFX
- 13th – Steph Roble & Maggie Shea, 49erFX
- 13th – Nevin Snow & Dane Wilson, 49er
- 15th – Ian Barrows & Mitchell Kiss, 49er
- 14th – Riley Gibbs & Anna Weis, Nacra 17
- 23rd – Sarah Newberry & David Liebenberg, Nacra 17
- 24th – Ravi Parent & Caroline Atwood, Nacra 17
- 32nd – Andrew Mollerus & Ian MacDiarmid, 49er
- 41st – Judge Ryan & Hans Henken, 49er
- 43rd – Harry Melges IV & Finn Rowe, 49er
- 52nd – Kate Shaner & Kathleen Love, 49erFX
Event Coverage Information
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Endurance Contest at Worlds – Long Days and Challenging Conditions
Sailors were met with more challenging conditions in Auckland on the last full day of fleet racing at the 2019 Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships. With heavy chop and a softer, shifty breeze at about 7-10 knots, athletes were forced to stay mentally sharp and trust their instincts to find the pressure.
Day two of Gold Feet racing in the Nacra 17 class provided low clouds early on, preventing stable sea-breeze conditions from developing. US Sailing Team Olympic Coach and Performance Manager, Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wisc.) said that the U.S. Nacra 17 athletes were focused on making the most of some limiting trends on the racecourse, “Each of our U.S. Nacra teams entered the Gold Fleet again with tangible goals to hold onto the top 10 finishes. Getting off the start line and reading the persistent, left shifting pressure were limiting factors in first top mark positions.” Barkow continued, “From there, our group held their own or managed to make gains with good downwind speed and decision making.”
Tomorrow, racing will conclude with two Gold Fleet races, followed by one Medal Race. U.S. Nacra athletes are looking forward to taking advantage of their last opportunities to move up the ranks. “Tomorrow we will be pushing hard for the final two Gold Fleet races, always taking advantage of the opportunity to make improvements amongst some very strong competition,” Barkow added.
On the 49erFX course, US Sailing Team athletes, Stephanie Roble (East Tory, Wisc.) and Maggie Shea (Wilmette, Ill.), were less limited by the persisting shifts and were instead forced to stay sharp and trust their instincts to get to the next pressure. “Today, we focused on start execution so we could have options to go to either side to get pressure,” said Roble. “The wind was pretty crazy with big clouds moving over the course and storms passing to the north. So, we focused on trusting the pressure we could see and racing to it.” Their strategy paid off. Roble and Shea had a consistent day in the front of the fleet, finishing all three races in the top ten.
According to Charlie McKee (Bend, Ore.), who is providing coaching support to the U.S. Men’s 49er athletes, maintaining sharp focus and enduring through long days on the water has been a theme throughout the event. “The days here are very long, and it has become both a physical and mental endurance contest,” said McKee. “The athletes from all countries have trained in order to physically peak at this event, and it is a showcase of the physical aspect of our sport.”
U.S. Men’s 49er athletes Andrew Mollerus (Larchmont, N.Y.) and Ian MacDiarmid (Delray Beach, Fla.) proved their mental resilience and ability to push through long days on the water. In the first race of the day, Mollerus and MacDiarmid were unfortunately U-flagged. Though, the penalty didn’t de-rail the pair, as they went on to win the following two silver fleet races.
In Gold Fleet, U.S. Men’s 49er teams Nevin Snow (San Diego, Calif.) and Dane Wilson (Ojai, Calif.), and Ian Barrows (Miami, Fla.) and Mitchell Kiss (Holland, Mich.), are currently in the sixth spot among the countries who have not yet qualified for representation at the Tokyo 2020 teams. The top four countries who have not already qualified prior to this event will earn representation in the Men’s 49er fleet at the 2020 Games. Both boats will be doing everything possible to move back into qualifying position in the last two fleet races tomorrow.
The competitors at the 2019 Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships will resume racing tomorrow at 10:30 a.m., with the first of the medal races scheduled for 1:30 p.m., local time. Sky Sport will be broadcasting the entirety of the 2019 Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships to their New Zealand Audience. SidelineApp’s coverage of the Worlds will be available to international viewers with a one-time subscription fee of just 14.95 euros. Click here to stream the event live.
With Worlds Finale Around the Corner, U.S. Reflects on 49er Depth
With only two days left at the 2019 Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships in Auckland, athletes are looking forward to clinching their spot in the overall standings. Tomorrow will be the last full day of the final series. On Sunday, Gold Fleet boats in each class will have an additional two fleet races, followed by a medal race featuring the top ten.
Today was the first Gold Fleet appearance for U.S. Men’s 49er team, Nevin Snow (San Diego, Calif.) and Dane Wilson (Ojai, Calif.), since teaming up in spring of 2019. While they had their first double-digit scores of the event, today, the pair is solidly in sixth place and is still just a few points from a podium position.
Snow and Wilson have demonstrated impressive consistency over the course of the week. Thanks to their steady performance, the U.S. is currently a solid position to qualify the country for representation in the Men’s 49er event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Though, they aren’t the only 49er team with a U.S. flag atop their sail that has demonstrated skill in Auckland. The U.S. has five boats represented in the class this week, all of which are are in their twenties or younger. While Snow and Wilson were the most consistent among U.S. boats this week, all five boats have taken turns finishing in the top ten. The country’s depth of young talent bodes well looking beyond just the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Today, Snow and Wilson’s fellow Americans, Andrew Mollerus (Larchmont, N.Y.) and Ian MacDiarmid (Delray Beach, Fla.), jumped up ten places after finishing all three of today’s races in the top ten. Mollerus and MacDiarmid were able to find their rhythm despite large chop on the racecourse today. “We had three great starts, and from there just focused on keeping the boat moving through the chop,” said Mollerus. “The waves today were much bigger than what we’ve been racing in, this week.”
Among the sailors hoping to solidify a spot in the top ten are women’s 49erFX athletes, Paris Henken (Coronado, Calif.) and Anna Tobias (Pittsburgh, Penn.). Henken and Tobias are currently placed 10th overall. Their coach, Willie McBride (Santa Barbara, Calif.), notes that speed has been on their side since arriving in New Zealand, “They’ve found some really awesome new settings while they’ve been here in New Zealand. As a result, their speed has really shone. They’re also in a new Ovington boat and feel that it’s been really fast.”
Qualifying Series Wraps – Adaptability on the Race Course Translates to Success
Thanks to another packed day of racing in Auckland, all three fleets at the 2019 Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships battled tricky conditions to complete the qualifying series. In the 49er fleet, Nevin Snow (San Diego, Calif.) and Dane Wilson (Ojai, Calif.) clinched their first appearance together in Gold Fleet and are currently standing just a few points outside the podium.
After a nearly one-hour tow to the outer racecourses on the Hauraki Gulf, the three 49er fleets sailed the final day of the qualification series in a 7-12 knot northerly. It was difficult to pick which side of the course to favor, as clouds from the west gradually intruded onto the courses, complicating and eventually weakening the late-morning Seabreeze that developed.
Olympic Sailing veteran, Charlie McKee (Bend, Ore.) who is providing coaching support for the U.S. 49er athletes, elaborated on the day’s challenging conditions, “Those that did best were solid on the start line, decisive in their upwind calls, and patient downwind.” He also noted the difficulty to sail consistently in the conditions, “Many of the top teams found themselves struggling to retain any consistency in the conditions, and the performance and depth of the young U.S. 49er team has actually been one of the talking points throughout the boat park.”
The U.S. 49er team’s popularity in the boat park is likely in part due to the consistency that Nevin Snow and Dane Wilson have exhibited so far. Snow and Wilson have yet to finish a race in the double-digits and are currently standing just four points outside a podium position.
US Sailing Team 49er coach, Mark Asquith (GBR) attributes their consistency to their focus on the water, “They kept their routine strong and executed well on the parts of the race they knew they could control. They avoid traffic as much as possible, stay sharp on the numbers, and only take the opportunities to create leverage when they felt it was a sure thing.”
On today’s conditions, Asquith also noted, “It was a very passive day about taking what was dealt.” In the boat, Wilson agreed that adaptability was essential to performing well in the variable conditions. “We focused on getting off the line well and keeping an open mind to the conditions since they’ve been changing a lot,” he said. “We were able to get to open space and sail our boat fast in the direction we wanted to go. The concept is nothing too complicated, but we executed it well.”
While Snow and Wilson continue to put together an impressive series, several of the U.S. 49er athletes saw some positive results today. McKee said, “Ian [Barrows] and Mitchell [Kiss] got themselves out of some tough spots to put up pretty good scores, and both Harry [Melges IV] and Finn [Rowe], and Judge [Ryan] and Hans [Henken] upped their game from the previous day.”
Being adaptable to the changing breeze directions became even more important for the fleets that raced in the afternoon. Nacra 17 and 49erFX sailors were kept on their toes by the dying afternoon sea breeze which faded into a long transition zone and finally built again from the southwest.
According to U.S. Olympic Coach and Performance Manager, Sally Barkow, the U.S. Nacra athletes were focused on “clean starts and first beat decisions which needed to be adjusted when the legs got shorter and shorter through the afternoon.” In addition to making constant adjustments on the upwinds. Ravi Parent (Sarasota, Fa.) and Caroline Atwood (Clinton, Conn.) saw some advances on the downwind legs. Barkow continued, “Ravi and Caroline also made some improvements downwind in speed and technique, making some solid gains into the final run of the last race of qualifying series.”
Like the Nacra fleet, the FX sailors raced in the afternoon conditions. Though Paris Henken (Coronado, Calif.) and Anna Tobias (Pittsburgh, Penn.) slid back a bit after starting the day leading the FX fleet, the pair finished in the top ten twice and are ranked ninth overall.
Day Two: Let Them Eat Cake – Great Opening Day for USA 49erFX and Nacra Teams
Without a long wind delay this morning, all three classes were able to get some racing in 9 knots that built to about 15-16 knots by mid-afternoon. After four races in the 49erFX and Nacra classes, Paris Henken (Coronado, Calif.) and Anna Tobias are leading the 49erFX fleet, and Riley Gibbs (Long Beach, Calif.) and Anna Weis (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) are in third in the Nacra 17 fleet.
In the 49erFX class, Olympic sailing veterans, Henken and Tobias, had an incredibly consistent day at the top. While they were campaigning part-time early in the quad, they have a lot of experience under their belt. Henken represented Team USA at the Rio 2016 Games in the 49erFX and Tobias (formerly Tunnicliffe) is the Beijing 2008 Gold Medalist in the Laser Radial. Now that they have been full-time campaigning for over a year, it’s clear the hard work is paying off.
The pair finished two races in first and the final race of the day in fifth. Henken attributes their successful day one on the water to keeping it simple, “We executed the starts really well and had some incredible boat speed which we have been working on all month, here in New Zealand.” She continued, “Our priorities were to minimize maneuvers and just keep the boat going fast.”
Their coach, Willie McBride (Santa Barbara, Calif.) agreed and mentioned that Henken and Tobias had some fun incentives to win. “We have a deal with our Danish Training partners,” McBride said, referring to Ida Marie Baad-Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard-Olsen (DEN), “when either team wins a race, everyone eats a piece of cake.”
McBride also noted that some of their successes of the day were also due to the team behind the team, “Their kite ripped in race two, while they were in the lead. Because of the supporters who helped Paris and Anna get to New Zealand, they had a spare kite and were able to right it up in time to win the next race.”
It seems keeping it simple is the name of the game in New Zealand. Though Nacra sailors, Gibbs and Weis didn’t have any cake incentives on the water, the pair also had a consistent day at the top with three finishes in the top three and all scores within the top five.
“We kept it pretty simple today,” said Gibbs. “We tried to keep our bows clear of any traffic. Making high-percentage moves around the racecourse gave us the ability to sail in more clear air than our competitors. We seem to have decent speed and when we’re sailing in a good lane, going the right direction, we’re definitely not slow.”
While Gibbs and Weis felt some of their decisions were little conservative, they are pleased with their first day on the water. “As they say, you can’t win the regatta on the first day, but you can definitely lose it,” said Gibbs.
After having a two-race head start on the 49erFX and Nacra 17 fleets, Men’s 49er athletes sailed one race at the end of the day. U.S. teams of Nevin Snow (San Diego, Calif.) and Dane Wilson (Ojai, Calif.), and Ian Barrows (Miami, Fla.) and Mitchell Kiss (Holland, Mich.) both finished another race in the top ten. Snow and Wilson currently stand in tied for tenth place and Barrows and Kiss are in 16th.
With the exception of yesterday’s delay, Auckland has been serving up some pretty ideal conditions. US Sailing’s Olympic Coach and Performance Manager, Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wisc.), noted, “Today, beautiful clear skies allowed for a perfect building sea breeze and sea state today on the outer courses.” Auckland’s tides also seem to be allowing more racing in heavier breeze that would usually create a sea state too high for these boats, “Managing to sail all four races today in the incoming tide kept the waves from getting too massive as the wind picked up this afternoon.”
The competitors at the 2019 Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships will resume racing tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. local time. Sky Sport will be broadcasting the entirety of the 2019 Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships to their New Zealand Audience. SidelineApp’s coverage of the Worlds will be available to international viewers with a one-time subscription fee of just 14.95 euros. Click here to stream the event live.
Day One: 49ers Kickoff 2019 Hyundai World Championships
After a lengthy day of postponement onshore, the 49er class was the only fleet that was given a chance to race on the opening day of the 2019 Hyundai World Championships. Blustery conditions kept the fleets on their dollies, as the race committee patiently waited for a frontal passage due at 2:00 p.m. Meteorologist, Ken Campbell (Nashua, N.H.) of Commanders’ Weather, kept the US Sailing Team updated on the progress of the system, reporting as much as 55 knots mid-afternoon.
While athletes and fans will have to wait another day to cheer on 49erFX and Nacra 17 teams, the final front cleared the racing area at 3:30 local time, allowing three fleets of 49ers to complete the first two races of the qualifying series.
Racing alongside the beautiful volcanic island, Rangitoto, delivered puffy and shifty breeze at about 11-15 knots. The 49er Red Fleet featured three USA boats: Nevin Snow (San Diego, Calif.) and Dane Wilson (Ojai, Calif.), Ian Barrows (Miami, Fla.) and Mitchell Kiss (Holland, Mich.), and Judge Ryan (San Diego, Calif.) and Hans Henken (Coronado, Calif.). All competed and sailed well in the shifty conditions. They demonstrated a strong opening day with solid starts, top boat speeds, and strong lane management.
In race two, the breeze shifted slightly to the right and gusting into the low 20s. The U.S. athletes managed the shifts, higher velocities, and elusive laylines well to cap their first day on the water. As with any opening day, playing consistently near the front of the pack was the goal. Athletes Snow and Wilson did a particularly good job performing consistently at the top. The pair posted two top-ten finishes and are standing in eighth overall.
Snow attributed their success in the shifty conditions to their optimal boat set up, “We were just trying to stay on top of the changing conditions after the front. We tried to set up the boat to make it easy to sail in the shifty stuff. If you couldn’t act on the shifts you easily got left behind.” Once the breeze picked up, Wilson prioritized sailing fast, but stable in the bigger puffs, “In race 2, the last downwind got quite fruity, so I focused on keeping the boat fast but safe.”
Barrows and Kiss also finished both races of the day in the top ten. Following an unfortunate ankle injury earlier this month, Barrows especially showed good form in the fast-paced conditions, demonstrating a strong will and benefitting from careful physical therapy. Early in November, the pair capsized while training in New Zealand. After Barrows’ foot was stuck in the foot strap, the injury kept the team on shore for a number of days.
The injury isn’t keeping barrows down though, “It still feels a little weird in the foot strap,” said Barrows, “but I’m glad it’s my right foot so the pressure on my aft foot on the bear aways is fine. If we had to bear away on port that might be a different story!”
In the boat, Barrows and Kiss prioritized keeping clear of other boats, especially in heavy traffic areas. “We focused on keeping our heads out of the boat and tried not to be too risky. We were just focused on getting top tens. We also did our best to stay clear of traffic and other boats,” Barrows continued.
US Sailing team Olympic Head Coach, Luther Carpenter (Cypress, Texas) thinks that keeping clear of heavy traffic could be a theme of the week, “There could be a massive amount of mark roundings and high-speed action. Teams that keep things simple, execute specific tasks cleanly, and maintain stamina through the long series will prevail in New Zealand.”
While tomorrow’s conditions are still slightly uncertain, it’s certain that the schedule will be packed. Nacras 17 and FXs will race first, followed by the 49ers. Racing is scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m., local time.
Sky Sport will be broadcasting the entirety of the 2019 Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships to their New Zealand Audience. SidelineApp’s coverage of the Worlds will be available to international viewers with a one-time subscription fee of just 14.95 euros.
Preview: US Sailing Team Takes on 2019 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 Worlds
AUCKLAND, NZL (December 1, 2019) – The US Sailing Team athletes are ready to take on the 2019 Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships. The event will be hosted from December 3-8 at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club, in Auckland, New Zealand.
Last week, at the 2019 Oceania Championships, U.S. athletes measured up against many of the competitors that will be seen on the starting line of the World Championship event. The U.S. athletes delivered a strong performance and left the event with a bronze medal.
The stakes will be high for U.S. competitors at this event. It will be the first of two regattas that will determine the U.S. Olympic Trials. In each fleet, the U.S. boat with the lowest combined finishing position from this event and the 2020 World Championships will be named to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team.
The 2019 World Championships will be especially important for the U.S. Men’s 49er athletes. In addition to fighting for athlete selection, they will be making their final attempt to qualify the U.S. as a country for the Tokyo 2020 Games. Because there are more countries competing than there are spots available at the Games, each country must qualify before athletes can earn selection to their country’s Olympic team.
The U.S. has already qualified in the 49erFX and Nacra 17 classes. In order to qualify the U.S. for representation in the Men’s 49er class, one of the five registered U.S. teams will have to be among the top four countries that have not already qualified.
The U.S. will be able to come into this event with some confidence after a strong showing at the Oceania Championships. US Sailing Team Men’s 49er athletes, Andrew Mollerus (Larchmont, N.Y.) and Ian MacDiarmid (Delray Beach, Fla.) led the competition in their fleet after day one and posted several top-ten finished throughout the event.
Sky Sport will be broadcasting the entirety of the 2019 Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships to their New Zealand Audience. SidelineApp’s coverage of the Worlds will be available to international viewers with a one-time subscription fee of just 14.95 euros.
Learn more about U.S. selection to the Tokyo 2020 Games.