August 2019 (part 1) - 470 World Championships


Written by Eilidh McIntyre.

Heading to Japan in late July we knew we were in for a marathon. With two of our most important events back to back it was going to be a physical and mental challenge.

The worlds were up first  in the lead up we got a real insight into the conditions Neither Hannah or I had been to japan over the Olympic period, despite many chats and preparation about the heat, it hit us hard. 30 degrees and humidity upwards of 80% was taking its toll and we didn’t give the weather the respect it deserved. Testament to our teamwork we recognised this early and managed to get on top of our downwards spiral before the worlds kicked off.

Then we had to contend with the actual sailing. The 2020 Olympic Venue, Enoshima is brutal but amazing. We trained for 5 days in awesome conditions – Upwards of 13knots and EPIC waves!

Day 1 of the words came and just our luck no wind. After a long postponement we eventually got a race off in 5 knots against 0.7 knots of tide going directly downwind. There were 4 of us battling it out to get around the windward mark before the time limit but alas the race was abandoned. We sweated it out on the water for a little longer before being sent ashore.

Fortunately, the  the rest of the regatta saw good breeze starting at 6 knots on day 2 building to 20 knots on day 5. We had a solid start to the regatta and continued to put in some great results throughout the week. Day 4 was  our best day with a 1,2,1. It was a building thermally enhanced breeze. We started the day in pumping conditions and finished it off spilling mainsheet. We had one of the best runs of our lives catching wave after wave to take the lead, we will never forget that feeling.

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Going into the last day of fleet racing we were 5 points ahead of the Japanese and hoping to extend our lead. But sailing in Enoshima bay is never that simple. The conditions were testing and we were struggling with some severe holes in our fingers and hands; due to the warm water and humidity our skin was just falling off. The day brought mixed results 16, 4, 4 keeping us in the yellow vests but the Japanese had closed the gap to just one point – it was going to be a medal race showdown, who beats who takes the gold with double points awarded for the medal race.

Medal race day - We were ready for the fight, disappointed by the day before and fuelled by our past 2 world championships we were going to give it everything we had!

We had a fantastic start and were in control of the race all we had to do was finish in front of the Japanese and the gold was ours. Unfortunately for us, Enoshima doesn’t make control easy to keep the wind and waves are epic and tricky, the Japanese overtook us up the first beat. We went around the first mark in 10th and 3rd in the overall standings. Downwind was an incredible leg and we pulled quite an amazing maneuver at the leeward mark sneaking round the back of the Japanese and putting us firmly back in the race. We sailed fast up the second beat confident that we were going the right way and rounded the windward mark 10 boat lengths ahead of the Japanese.

All we had to do was stay ahead, which is easier said than done. We matched them gybe for gybe all the way to the finish. We had done it and crossed the line the become the 470 World Champions of 2019!! .

This was an event we had been dreaming of winning together, the gravitas the title holds but also in the Olympic Venue with 1 year to go!! This was Hannah’s second 470 world championship win. Getting her first in 2012 with Saskia Clarke. But for me it was a first, it was had been the only title that has eluded me so far in my 470 career, previously picking up a Silver and Bronze. Finally, I deserve the Gold 470 on the top of our mainsail - A class rule that recognises Gold medalists at the Olympics or World champions.

 2019 470 World Championships and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualification Event. Two World titles are being contested from 2-9 August in Enoshima, Japan, and four Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualification places in the men and six in the women
Howard Davies