Olympic Silver Medallists in the Nacra 17, Lisa Darmanin and Jason Waterhouse, plan to give the inaugural foiling Nacra 17 World Championship a big shake this week, despite an impeded preparation in which a key concern was to avoid injury while getting used to the new class of boat.
Last week a US Sailing Team member lost part of three fingers in a pre-regatta mishap at La Grande Motte, France. Darmanin said the injury could have happened in the previous boats, but it suggested how challenging the adjustment to foiling Nacra 17 - which ‘flies’ above the water on foils - has been.
“That accident shocked everybody a bit,” Darmanin said.
“It’s all so new at the moment, people have only had the boats for a short time, so there’s the danger of collisions and accidents because people aren’t quite in control.”
Darmanin and Waterhouse support the change, which will bring Olympic competition into line with developments in world sailing, including the America’s Cup which featured spectacular foiling action. However, delays in the delivery of the newly-fitted boats left most national teams, including Australia, with little time to prepare for World Championship competition, which is scheduled to start on Tuesday.
“It’s an exciting thing for sailing, but there’s been a lot of challenges,” Darmanin said.
“It’s a learning curve. Every day we learn a lot. But, as Olympic sailors, we’re figuring out the best way to get these boats around the racetrack.”
Darmanin and Waterhouse have reached a top speed in training of 26 knots. Upwind, where they previously reached up to 12 knots, they now foil at 18 knots.
“It’s pretty cool flying around out there. It’s pretty quiet because you’re not touching the water,” she said.
“You do feel like you’re going pretty fast. It’s more about the acceleration, I think, and just trying to stay attached to the boat.”
Australia has another crew at La Grande Motte, Australian Sailing Squad members Paul Darmanin and Lucy Copeland, who will use the regatta as something of a test run before shipping the new boats home for the Australian summer. But Darmanin and Waterhouse want to see if they can overcome the new class’s teething problems and surprise their opponents.
“We still want to win these Worlds, but we’re also realistic in that we know anything can happen,” Darmanin said.
“It’s very different to how we’ve felt at other World Championships. This lead-in has just been a case of sail as much as you can and don’t get injured. It’s a very rushed lead-in, but we’re just trying to manage the stress of being unprepared better than other people.”
Meanwhile, in Hungary, at the Finn Gold Cup - the Finn class world championship - Australian Sailing Team members Jake Lilley and Oliver Tweddell were joined Australian Sailing Squad member Jock Calvert and a contingent of other Australian Finn sailors at Lake Balaton, where conditions were expected to be cool and windy.
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HOW TO FOLLOW THE NACRA 17 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - France
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