WORLD CHAMPIONS BRING FORM TO OPENING DAY IN ENOSHIMA11 Sep 2018
As the dust just about settles on the Hempel Sailing World Championships Aarhus 2018, many of the newly-crowned World Champions continue their form at the World Cup Series event in Enoshima, Japan.
The 2018 World Cup Series Enoshima is the first to be held on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Competition field of play, and competitors who have succeeded on Olympic waters ahead of the Games often achieve glory come showtime.
Out of the 466 sailors from 44 nations, the World Champions crowned in Aarhus have come to the forefront once again, suggesting that their talents and racing know-how can be seemingly transferred from one venue to the next.
Kevin Peponnet and Jeremie Mion (FRA) clinched a dramatic gold in Aarhus, moving up from third to first during the medal race with a third-place finish, amidst some slip-ups from their rivals.
It was the first World Championship title for the pair and their confidence was sky-high in Enoshima as they snapped up the first race win.
"We got a bit lucky with the wind shifts but we sailed it really well," explained Peponnet. "We didn't do well in the second race though, so we will have to improve tomorrow."
The pair finished tenth in the second race and are third overall at the early stages of the competition. Although they admit another medal would be nice, they have a wider goal after an exhausting World Championship campaign.
"We put a lot of energy into winning the World Championships," said Mion. "Unlike Aarhus, the goal here is not directly to win it. We want to gain a lot of experience from the Olympic venue, but if we have a lot of good races at the front of the fleet, then we'll have good confidence for the next couple of years as we build for the Olympics."
Winning a medal on Olympic waters in advance of an Olympic Games is a strong indicator of what's to come, and the Men's 470 fleet is full of world-class competitors aiming for the podium.
Rio 2016 silver medallists Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) are down in eighth, with Greek bronze medallists Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis in fifth.
Japan's expertise in the 470 and knowledge of their home waters shone, with four teams in the top six after day one. Keiju Okada and Jumpei Hokazono (JPN) lead the way on seven points and are followed by Naoki Ichino and Takashi Hasegawa (JPN) and the French.
Japan's Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka won gold in Aarhus but had a mixed day in the Women's 470 fleet today, yet were still able to find some form.
They opened with a 11th in race one before expertly overhauling Benedetta di Salle and Alessandra Dubbini (ITA) in the second race of the day to take the win.
The Italians, along with Afrodite Zegers and Anneloes van Veen (NED), are locked on seven points after they both recorded a fifth and a second.
Summarising the opening day, Dubbini commented, "After a bad start, we did well in the first race as we had a good downwind. In the second race we fought with the World Champions and we were first the whole time, but they managed to take the win. We're looking ahead to the next one."
Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre (GBR), third at the 2018 World Championships, won the opening race of the week and are fourth overall.
Racing continues at 11:40 on Wednesday 12 September.
By Daniel Smith - World Sailing